If you want to increase referrals, you need to be visible in your community. Here's a brief summary of how potential clients and referral sources learn about you and your services, along with some tips to build your reputation.


1. Advertising

Online directory listings, 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. More about this in my previous post, What's the best way to advertise?

2. Direct referrals

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. Therefore, let people know that you are accepting new clients.

3. Word of mouth

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 my previous post, Show Up For Success.

4. Direct contact

Giving brief presentations to community groups is a great way to increase your professional visibility in the community. Be sure to distribute a handout, such as a fact sheet or tips sheet with your contact information. These are less likely to be thrown away than business cards, and audience members may share them with family or friends. In addition to formal presentations, you will meet a lot of people 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 that they know, like and trust. Therefore, be friendly and show interest in others whenever you have the opportunity.

5. Web searching and surfing

In order for your name to appear on the first page of Google search results, you need a strong web presence. If you don't have a website, at least have a blog and update it regularly. Each post will build an additional line for you in Google. Also get your practice listed in Google My Business, so that you show up in the street map at the top of local search results. See my previous post, An Easy Way to Show Up on the First Page of Search Results.

6. News and social 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. Also 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.