Things we wish our graduate degrees in counseling had covered, like building a referral base. Every clinician needs a referral base for two reasons, first, there will always be a few clients better helped by someone with different services than we provide and second, it is a form of advertising yourself and your practice. Lonnie Mullet, MA LPC shares how mental health clinicians can start building their referral base. A strong referral base is a must for anyone considering private practice. Even if you are already in a counseling private practice, many clinicians are very nervous about the ins and outs of building a referral base. Most of us fear sounding like a sleazy advertisement on daytime television. Lonnie gives some practical advice and encouragement for mental health clinicians with this oftentimes daunting task.
Transcript of video: Building a Referral Base
Hi, Lonnie Mullet here with Helpforcounselors.com where we help clients while making a living. I want to talk to you today about building a referral base. For a lot of counselors in the startup process, they want to think about “how do I build that referral base? How do I get clients?”
And I want to talk to you today about branding or niching yourself. A lot of you are hesitant to do this because you have heard the myth that if I do that, if I brand myself, if I niche myself, then I pigeonhole myself into this corner to where those are the only type of clients I am going to work with. And what I want to tell you is that over the years I have found the opposite is true.
If you market or niche yourself with a special training or special training that you offer, what it actually does is highlight you. And so what I want you to do is to think about is there a particular population that you work well with? Are you bilingual? Do you have a special skill set? A special training? Because this will actually give you something to market to differentiate or separate yourself from other counselors out there, especially in large urban areas there are maybe hundreds, maybe thousands of counselors working, so it’s really important to distinguish ourselves from other counselors out there and one way to do that is through branding. So just be thinking about that and maybe even talk to a colleague or a co-worker and ask their opinion about the type of clients that they believe you work well with or the presentation or the training that you could highlight.
Your 30-second Elevator Speech
The next thing I want to talk to you about as far as building a referral base is creating a 30-second elevator speech. In Guerilla Marketing, Mr. Levinson talks about developing a 30-second elevator speech so that when you meet someone in an elevator and they ask, “What do you do Lonnie?” you can say this is what I do, “I’m a counselor and I work mostly with adolescents, I work with couples, I do some individuals and depression, anxiety, a lot of relationships. So that you can say that quickly and authentically, it doesn’t come across as forced because that really is your niche, that’s what you do. And that person can walk away with your card knowing that’s that guy’s specialty area, that’s that lady’s strength. This happens a lot at conventions and you meet lots of people. You tend to remember in the back of your mind the 1 or 2 people who usually say one or two things that they do well versus the person who says I’m a jack-of-all-trades because then we always think “master of none.” So I want you to think about that developing your 30-second elevator speech.
How to Make Networking Work for You
And the next thing I want to talk about is networking. Now in networking, a lot of people cringe at this, a lot of counselors do, because it sounds like a business term. I want you to think of networking as really building friendships in the therapeutic community, so you’re getting out and about, you are meeting other counselors. You are not selling anything as much as you are trying to find out in a genuine way what type of work they do, what they are good at. And then, of course, they are going to reciprocate, (most of us will anyway) and ask “Well, what do you do, Lonnie?” and then you are able to tell them what you do and exchange a couple of business cards and you can pay for their coffee. But there is nobody that is going to be expecting you to ask for a client or expect a client.
But it is important for us ethically as professionals that we have clinicians that we feel comfortable about so we can refer to. So this is part of even preparing for private practice is to go out and meet other therapists, other clinicians so that you have someone to refer to. When you get that client that doesn’t quite fit you or really has a problem that lies outside of your expertise, so you aren’t left Googling for people like the client is at home. You actually have inside knowledge about who out there is doing that kind of work and you can feel good about who you are sending them to that they are meeting a quality person and they are getting good care.
Thank you for watching our video today with helpforcounselors.com. I want to talk to you in future videos more about branding, about creating your own logo, building an online presence, maybe a website, and other ways you can work, such as business operations to help and keep and maintain clients so that the clinical work you are doing continues. Thank you for listening today.