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[00:00:00] Dr. Sharp: Hello, everyone. Welcome to The Testing Psychologist podcast, the podcast where we talk all about the business and practice of psychological and neuropsychological assessment. I’m your host, Dr. Jeremy Sharp, licensed psychologist group practice owner, and private practice coach.

Introducing ChecKIT, a one-stop-shop for testing psychologists that puts common mental health checklists in one place, saving you time and simplifying your assessment process. You can learn more at parinc.com\checkit

All right, everyone. Hey, welcome back. Glad to have you here as always.

Today’s episode is like mini-episodes, mini business episodes anyway. It is born from conversations with my consulting clients. Most of you know, I think that I do coaching [00:01:00] one-on-one and group coaching with testing psychologists who are trying to build their practices. And this is one of those questions that comes up a lot in my consulting sessions. And the question is, how do you make connections with potential referral sources?

I think we all have this idea that “networking” is really important but really what does that actually look like in real life? And how do you do it without feeling slimy or awkward? Now, I don’t know that I can take away all of the awkwardness in the process especially if you are more of an introvert like myself, but the hope is that we’ll talk about a few things that might make it easier.

So I’m going to talk about who you want to target to find referrals, I’m going to talk about what to say when you reach out to them, how to approach in-person meetings, and a little bit on getting in with physician’s offices.

Before I jump to that conversation, I [00:02:00] want to invite any aspiring advanced practice owners to consider the Advanced Practice Mastermind from The Testing Psychologist. This is a group coaching experience that will provide support and accountability to help you get to that next level in your practice. So if you are trying to set some goals and want some help in reaching those goals in 2021, I’d love to talk with you. You can get more information at thetestingpsychologist.com/advanced and schedule a pre-group call there.

All right. let’s jump to this discussion on reaching out to referral sources.

[00:03:00] Okay, everybody, I’m back. I want to jump right into it. This is going to be a pretty quick and to-the-point episode. So if you don’t have a pen handy, I would grab one. And if you can’t do that, just listen this first time and it’ll be pretty short and you can go back and listen again when you can write some notes down.

So I’m going to start just talking about who to reach out to. So we’re talking about again, in-person meetings reaching out to referral sources. I’m not talking at all about digital marketing here. That’s a whole separate deal. This is just about who do you reach out to and what do you do when you make contact with these individuals?

So I developed this… I said developed, that’s sort of a glorification. I came up with this four-quadrant approach to who you want to reach out to. And I found that it covers a lot of bases in [00:04:00] terms of which individuals you want to connect with when you’re trying to establish referral sources.

So the four quadrants are: 1) You want to reach out to other people who also see your clients. So this group would include, practitioners like physicians, occupational therapists, speech therapists, school psychologists, tutors, dyslexia specialists, people like that. So, other practitioners who also see your clients and provide ancillary or adjacent services to what you do.

The second quadrant is reaching out to practitioners who do exactly what you do. So other testing the psychologist. Now, this is the one that I get the most pushback on. It seems counterintuitive, but the rationale here, and this comes from my “abundance mindset”  if you know what that means, but just the idea that [00:05:00] it’s not helpful to be in competition with one another and that building relationships with people who offer similar services is ultimately going to be more helpful for us.

Now you’re going to run into practitioners who don’t want to connect and do have that competitive mindset. That’s fine. You can ignore them.  But hopefully, you’ll run into some folks who are willing to meet and build some relationships.

So again, the second quadrant reaching out to practitioners who do exactly what you do because they are likely to be full and they will need referrals when they are full and they will need trusted individuals to send these testing cases to. And they might form the basis for a consultation group which I talked about I think it was last week. So that’s the second quadrant.

The third quadrant is practitioners that you would like to refer your clients to after the evaluation. [00:06:00] Now, there is often a good bit of overlap between quadrant three in quadrant one, which you remember are practitioners who also see your clients. But if there’s anyone on here that you would refer out to after the evaluation, that’s where you want to think about that. So that would be therapists, psychiatrists, might even be people like attorneys if you do a lot of forensic work, it might be, let’s see, depending on what you do, it could be any number of other allied health professionals, dentists, even chiropractors if that’s a service you refer to. So any practitioner that you would refer your clients to after the evaluation.

And then the fourth quadrant is just a catch-all category that allows you to just connect with people you want to connect with. So, these are [00:07:00] individuals that you either admire or you’ve heard good things about in town. They maybe are sort of big players in your community or just individuals that you think you would like to connect with.

And I often recommend that people just do a Psychology Today search, scroll through profiles, if you see anybody that looks cool, reach out to them. You never know who is going to be a referral source for you and who you might form a relationship with just from reading through profiles. So it can be a nice surprise sometimes to find people that look interesting and just connect with them.

So once you establish that list, and I always encourage people to try to make a list of at least 50 folks to start out with, to reach out to. So once you make that list, then there’s the question of what to say. Now, I’m a big fan of [00:08:00] email.  I do not love the idea of sending letters. I just personally throw away every letter I get or flyer or rack card or whatever from a new practitioner, but an email goes a long way while at the same time not being as intrusive as a phone call. I feel like that’s so bizarre to think about it that way, but a phone call feels a little bit intrusive these days that you’re just like putting yourself in somebody’s ear.

So with an email, I think sending a cold email is totally fine. And it should say something along these lines. It should say something like, “Hey, I’m a new practitioner in town. And I know that been here for quite a while. I would love to buy you some coffee and hear about your experience being in private practice here in the area.” That’s simple, it’s to the point, it, [00:09:00] leaves room for the individual to say no if they want to, which is fine. But it also makes it clear that you’re willing to kind of pay for their time in a sense that you’re taking them to lunch or coffee. And it doesn’t say anything about you wanting to get referrals from them. That’s all it is. It’s pretty straightforward.

Now, if you’re trying to reach out to a school or you actually do want to build your own referral list, then there are two variations. You can always say, “I’m a new practitioner in town. I work with kids and I’m trying to learn more about the schools in the area so I can best support my clients. Are you open to meeting with me and sharing some information about your school and the other schools around here?”

Then there’s another variation where you might just say, “Hey, I’m a new practitioner in town or, “Hey, I just launched a practice here in town and I’m working really hard [00:10:00] to build my referral list so I can support my clients as best I can. Can I buy you lunch and just hear about your practice and what you do?”

People sometimes get discouraged when they hear nothing or hear NO. And I just want to normalize that and say, that’s totally okay. You will get a lot of NOs. I always say like a ballpark, if you get a 5% positive response rate, that’s pretty good. Okay? So out of those 50 individuals, if you end up with 2 or 3 folks, I know this sounds totally crazy, but I like to low ball it just to set expectations low. If you end up with 2 or 3 folks that say, “Yeah, I’d love to go out” then that’s great. Take those meetings and then once you’re in those meetings, this is transitioning to our next section, you can always ask or say, “Hey, this is great to connect with you. Do you know who else should I connect with? I [00:11:00] really want to make positive relationships here in town. Who else should I contact?” And then the ball gets rolling.

Let’s take a quick break to hear from our featured partner.

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[00:12:00] All right, let’s get back to the podcast.

So as far as in-person meetings, people get super anxious about this, right? They say like, “Oh, I’m an introvert. It feels slimy. I don’t want to market myself. I don’t want to…, networking sounds gross.” So here’s the thing. If you really don’t want to do this, if you think that going and meeting with people in person will actually do more harm to your practice than good, then don’t do it. Just make peace with paying for Google ads or some other digital advertising and go about your business. That’s totally fine. Plenty of people do that. That is totally fine.

One thing that I found though that can help reframe these interactions is again, just approaching these meetings like you are [00:13:00] building relationships. That that is it. Because that is what we are good at, right? We’re all psychologists. We all know how to ask questions. We know how to connect with people. We know how to learn about people and that’s what these meetings are. I don’t even really go into these meetings with an agenda of talking about my own practice or what I do, or getting referrals, that sort of thing.

I just approach it like, hey, this is a new person. I get to connect with them. I get to learn about them. And hopefully, there’s some overlap in what we do and we can help one another.

So all you have to do is ask questions. We’re good at asking questions. If you struggle with what to say to people, what to say to strangers in the beginning, there are all sorts of resources out there about how to make conversation. And I am not the expert on that at all. But you can always ask [00:14:00] if they’ve been to that spot before or some version of that, like, is this one of your favorite spots or how’d you pick this place? Something like that. You can always ask what’s good there. Like, do you like the coffee here? Do you like the food here? What should I get? you can always thank them obviously, asking how long they’ve been in practice, how long they’ve lived there, any number of things.

There are tons of opening lines so to speak that you can use. And you don’t have to feel weird about it. Hopefully, the conversation will flow from there. And like I always say if the person you’re meeting with has any motor of social skills, they’re going to be asking you questions as well. And hopefully, the conversation will just flow. And if [00:15:00] it doesn’t, that’s a good indication that you may not want to connect with that individual and put much energy into them.

All right. So I just want to wrap up by talking a little bit about getting into physician’s offices because physician’s offices, especially for those of us who do testing, can kind of be the Holy grail of referrals. I always say, if you get in with 1 or 2 physician practices, that can generate a lot of referrals. But it’s hard to reach physicians. They’re busy. They have very little time.

So here’s what we want to do. One trick that has worked for our practice is, we make sure that it’s standard procedure to get a release of information from our clients for their primary care physician and then we send a thank-you fax. So this is one-page fax. It just says, “Thanks for the referral.” Or it may not even be, “Thanks for the referral.” It might just be, “Hey, [00:16:00] I just started working with one of your patients. I’ll be in touch with any relevant updates as we work together or as I complete the evaluation. Very simple. It’s really just the face sheet, but you want to make sure that it has your logo on it and it says, thank you and it has your name on it. Then you just fax it over. That’s it. And put it to the attention of the PCP.

So we’re just building some brand recognition here and making sure that we keep our logo and name in front of these physicians. But if you want to take it a step beyond that, the gatekeeper for a lot of physician practices is someone like a referral coordinator. So this is an individual usually a social worker or master’s level clinician who coordinates the referrals for the practice and maintains the referral list and stays in touch with the providers about [00:17:00] who’s out there and what services are out there as well. Now, what you can do, you can look that referral coordinator up on the practice website. Hopefully, there’s a name and phone number. Give them a call. It might go to the front desk, it might go directly to the referral coordinator. And you can just say something like, “Hey, I’m a neuropsychologist here in town. I have worked with several of your patients already. And I’m just wondering if you have any referral needs for neuropsych testing. I’d love to talk with you about that.”

Now, if you have not worked with several of the patients already, that’s totally okay. You can just admit that part and say, “Hey, I’m a neuropsychologist here in town. I specialize in testing kids for ADHD and Autism. And I just wanted to check in to see if you need any referrals for that kind of service. I’d love to come to talk with you.” And again, you may get no response. That’s fine. But if you [00:18:00] call around to a number of offices, somebody who’s going to bite.

Another option for getting in with physician’s offices is talking with the office manager or the lead admin- the individual who might schedule a lunch and learns for the physicians. And you can always give that person a call. And it’s a similar line like, “Hey, I just moved to town. I’m trying to connect with physicians and establish some referrals for my clients but I’m also happy to come to a talk on any kind of mental health issue that might be relevant for your practice.” And that can sometimes get you in for lunches with physicians.

All right. So that was a whirlwind tour of reaching out to referral sources and what to say and how to handle those meetings. The hope is that you take a few things away from this and maybe feel a little more confident in building some of those referral networks.

And like I said at the [00:19:00] beginning, if you are an advanced practice owner and you would like to take your practice to the next level, you could check out The Testing Psychologist Advanced Practice Mastermind. The next cohort is starting June 10th, and I would love to have you in the group if it feels like a good fit. So you can go to thetesting psychologist.com/advanced and schedule a pre-group call.

Okay, everyone. Thank you as always for listening. Spread the word if you haven’t. If you have any friends who don’t know about the podcast and do testing, I will be so grateful if you share the podcast with them and just keep bringing testing information to all those who might want it.

Alright, stay safe. Take care. I will talk to you next time.

[00:20:00] The information contained in this podcast and on The Testing Psychologists website are intended for informational and educational purposes only. Nothing in this podcast or on the website is intended to be a substitute for professional, psychological, psychiatric, or medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please note that no doctor-patient relationship is formed here. And similarly, no supervisory or consultative relationship is formed between the host or guests of this podcast and listeners of this podcast. If you need the qualified advice of any mental health practitioner or medical provider, please seek one in your area. Similarly, if you need supervision on clinical matters, please find a supervisor with expertise that fits your needs.

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