How To Use Referral Partners To Grow Your Business

A “referral partner” is someone who is a good fit to refer clients to you.

They are someone (or a company) that ideally has a sizable number or clients, patients or customers who would make ideal clients for you.

I LOVE this strategy because I’ve seen clients of mine end up filling their practice – or getting a steady stream of clients – from 1 or 2 strong referral partners.

Pretty cool, right?

Who would be a good referral partner for YOU?

Your first step is to think of people who offer something complimentary to you, but don’t compete with you.

Potential referral partners might be…

  • personal trainers
  • pilates or yoga studio owners
  • chiropractors
  • acupuncturists
  • therapists
  • medical doctors

This is not an exhaustive list, but will get your juices flowing!

Referral partners are a great strategy for growing your business and getting more clients. Here's how to find and approach potential partners for your coaching business | Marketing For Health Coaches

 

How to find potential referral partners

First, I suggest you think about the kinds of people you want to connect with. Now that you have this in your mind, I’m going to ask you to do something a little woo-woo. Stick with me here…

Close your eyes and think about who you want to connect with. Then say to yourself “I don’t know HOW, I just know that it WILL happen.”

Consider that your prayer for what you want – to give more power behind your desires ;).

Don’t worry, we’re not going to leave it at that. Of course, I’m going to give you some practical steps to take!

Who do you know?

It’s always easiest to start by connecting with people you already know. Think about practitioners, doctors, and business owners you know. These may be friends, relatives, acquaintances, or places/people you go to as a client/customer or patient.

Who can the people you know connect you with?

Next, ask around. For example, if you want to connect with personal trainers, ask friends, acquaintances, and co-workers (if you have a “day job”) if they know of anyone. Then ask for an email introduction. You can also post on any Facebook groups or online groups you’re a part of. If I’m looking to connect with someone locally, one of the first places I go is the Facebook group for my local mother’s club.

Put networking to work…

A third way to connect with potential referral partners is to network. If you attend networking groups, do so with the goal of meeting the types of people who you identified as potential referral partners.

I also recommend keeping your eyes and ears open when you’re engaging in your daily activities. You might meet (or hear of) a personal trainer, integrative medical doctor, or pilates studio when you’re at the playground or getting your nails done…

How to approach potential referral partners

When looking to connect with potential referral partners, what you DON’T want to do is just drop your business cards off, or dump all your marketing materials off.

I completely understand the desire to quietly drop off materials – with the hopes that the potential referral source will see them, and be excited to connect with you. But this approach almost NEVER works and it’s often NOT well-received.

Let’s try a more effective approach!

If you’re an introvert, like me, you probably feel intimidated by the idea of approaching potential referral partners. If you’re picturing yourself cold calling people and this idea has you running for the hills, I feel the same way! I want to put your mind at ease.

Instead of cold calling, there are much easier and more effective ways to connect with potential referral partners.

Whether you’re reaching out to someone you already know or someone you’ve heard about, start by sending a simple email. In the email, share something specific you like/admire about them. Explain that you serve a similar audience and you’d love to discuss how you can support each other.

Don’t be afraid to follow up!

If you don’t hear back within a week, follow-up with another email. If you still don’t hear back after another week, connect a third time with a phone call and/or an email. This follow-up is KEY. Remember, people are busy and they’re likely not getting back to you because they simply have too many emails in their inbox! It is NOT personal and probably has nothing to do with you!

Remember, to make this strategy of connecting with referral partners FUN and work for you, take the focus off the “networking” part and instead approach it with with idea that “I really want to connect with like-minded people whom *I* can refer to and hopefully it will be reciprocal.”

Now I’d love to hear from you!
Who would you *love* to connect with as a referral partner? And if you’ve tried connecting with referral partners, how did that go? As always, post your questions so I can support you!

6 Responses to How To Use Referral Partners To Grow Your Business

  1. Carole says:

    I love your networking advice. It makes it much less scary.

    You have to be prepared to offer support as well. Partnerships are not one sided.

  2. Donnie says:

    Do you usually offer a referral fee to reciprocate? If so, is there a number or % that works well? Thank you for your simple and effective tactics!
    They help!

    • Amy Lippmann says:

      Great question Donnie! It really depends. If someone is going to be referring a lot of people to you, they may want a commission. Others will just be happy to have a great resource for their clients. I would feel out the situation and see if it comes up, or if you feel the commission would be a big motivator. The commission amount would depend on what type of service you’re providing and the cost of that service. For example, for an online cleanse you might give a 30-50% commission. For a 1:1 coaching program that you charge $1,200 for, you might give a 15% commission. Hope this helps!

  3. Bonnie Roill says:

    Love your post Amy. Question on this one, how do you establish a referral relationship with another business owner that offers a service similar to yours. For example, most Naturapath doctors offer nutrition counseling as I do as a Registered Dietitian. We both provide programs for weight loss yet they differ in philosophy. Even with Personal Trainers I find they don’t see a need to send a person to a dietitian since they have their own nutrition advice/program for their clients. Thoughts appreciated!

    • Amy Lippmann says:

      Great question Bonnie! In some cases the types of people you mention won’t be good referral partners, and that OK! I think that a Naturopath that has a full practice would be excited to have someone to refer to who can lighten their load. In this case, the message is more about “how can I help YOU?” I would find out what they enjoy (and don’t enjoy) and also what areas they specialize it. It may be that you can fill a gap there.

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