Image by Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 Alpha Stock Images
If you want to increase referrals, you need to be visible in your community, both online and in the physical world. Here's a brief summary of how potential clients and referral sources learn about you and your services.
1. Advertise to your target audience
Online directory listings (such as PsychologyToday or GoodTherapy), display ads in print publications, and event sponsorship all help to get your name in front of the public. The key factor is situating your ad where and when it's likely to be noticed by potential clients and referral sources.
Thus, for example, if you want to increase the number of families or children referred to you, you might advertise in publications or websites that focus on local kids' activities, such as community sports leagues. If you want to work with business executives, you could sponsor a corporate event.
2. Let people know you are accepting new clients/patients
These are from people who specifically recommend you to their friends, families, patients, and business associates, based on their own experience with you. Personal recommendations are one of the best forms of referral for mental health services, because it's hard to tell from credentials alone whether you'll be a good fit for a given person.
The folks who want to recommend you may erroneously assume that, because you are so good at what you do, you might be too busy to take on new clients. Therefore, let people know that you are accepting referrals.
3. Be active in your community
As your practice grows, you will get talked about - hopefully in a positive way! People will hear about you during the course of their conversations with others, from reading about you, or from picking up one of your handouts or business cards.
Getting out into the community, doing presentations and simply participating in community activities will increase the likelihood of getting word-of-mouth referrals. See this post, Show Up For Success.
Not all options can be exercised until the coronavirus is contained, but it's not too early to start making plans for getting involved in community activities after restrictions are lifted.
4. Be friendly and show interest in others
You can get to know a lot of people - and they can get to know you - in the course of your daily activities. Consider that everyone is a potential client or referral source, and that when people need help they prefer to choose someone whom they know, like and trust.
Therefore, be friendly and show interest in others whenever you have the opportunity.
5. Have a strong web presence
In order for your name to appear near the top of Google search results, you need a strong web presence, including a website, a blog and social media.
Fill out your social media profiles with your location and key words that your intended audience (clients and referral sources) might be entering into the Google search box.
Also, write articles and blog posts containing your keywords, and create videos and podcasts on topics related to your expertise. The more content you post, and the more frequently you update it, the more likely that your name will come up on the first or second page of Google when your intended audience searches for mental health information and/or help.
And did you know that one of the easiest ways to show up on the first page of Google search results is to get your practice listed in Google My Business? When people search for counseling or therapy in your local area, your business will be included in the street map at the top of local search results.
6. Get quoted in news media
Look for opportunities to offer commentary in local news media. Reporters welcome an insightful mental health angle, especially for events where emotional factors are involved.
Contact your local new outlets and summarize your idea and why it is important for their audience. The best time to offer your professional input is when it ties in with current events.
7. Participate in conversations on social media
Join groups at Linkedin and post your comments. Build your Twitter audience by following others (many of whom will follow you back) and tweet links to news stories and websites related to mental health, particularly those related to your area of expertise.
Set up accounts and post on other social media that are popular among your target demographics. See social media user statistics here, and at the social media sites themselves.