Guide to Building a Successful Referral Network for Doctors

patient referral networking guideMost Doctors Network Wrong

I do not fault people; no one teaches you how to network with others.  School does not teach us how to build strategic partnerships or develop interpersonal skills that are helpful with creating a profitable referral network.

So most people learn through trial and error, while some are successful, very few get it right and end up wasting many years attending mixers and other functions hoping for the elusive referral that never comes.


Guide to Efficient Networking

Step 1 – Identify the 5 types of referral colleagues that you work well with.

Start slow, learn to crawl before you walk – write down a list of types (specialties) that could generate the amount of referrals/income you desire.  Once you have built a list of specialties, fill in the blanks with at least 3 to 5 names  that fits that description. You can create this list by asking other colleagues, or use referralMD to find active referring doctors in your area.


Step 2 – Conduct a proper 1 on 1 meeting

Plan a one on one meeting outside the group and ask the 8 questions every business should ask their referral partner.

1. What makes your company better or different than your competitor?
2. a) Who would you say are your 2 direct competitors?
b) What attributes of their business make them your competitor?
c) What gives you the competitive edge over them?
3. What referral or lead would you not want? (What is not your niche?)
4. What association or group are you looking to be connected with?
5. What personality traits do you specifically have that make your business exceptional?
6. What is a key to your success?
7. What do you feel is keeping you from your next level of success?
8. a) Thinking without boundaries where would you like to see your business in one year?
b) What support do you think I can give you as your business partner to help you achieve that goal?

This will open the discussion to more details that you should know about your partner other than questions about the weather today.   You should meet with your referral colleagues a minimum of 1 to 2 times a month, not only does this give you more time to strategize, but helps keep you on top of mind.


Step 3 – Do a test!

This is where most healthcare professionals get lost – Most take a wait and see approach.

Have you heard this before?  “If I hear about someone needing your services, I will let you know”

This approach does not work, because it is reactive not proactive.  If you truly wish to increase the referrals received every month, you have to ask for the referral, not wait and hope.

So you ask, how do I get started with a test?

1. Create two lists (a Have list and a want list) – A have list is colleagues that you currently have, and a want list is colleagues that you want to have.  It is good to start with 3 to 5 of each (haves and wants) for your first trial run with a new partner.

2. Both parties have created a list and now it’s time to take action. (be proactive) You call your have list and ask your colleagues if they be interested in meeting your partner.  They will do the same for you as well. You can conduct this exercise when the both of you are together so you can see instant results.  You can also send an email to your colleagues every week or month, but always be sure to follow up with a phone call verifying that they received the email.

3. Similar to your have list is your want list.  Let your partner review your want list to see if they know the contact at those businesses.  If they do know the contacts, have them call right then and introduce you.

Now think of it like this, if you do this on a small scale, 3 haves 3 wants, and you generate 1 referral colleague why not increase your activity up to 10 or more have/wants with the same referral partner and generate even   better results.  Multiple that with your top 5 or 10 colleagues that are currently in your referral team and (do the math! – That’s a lot of referrals)


Step 4 – Learn to say no

Keep this guide handy and ask your potential colleagues if they can dedicate the time to properly send you referrals.  If you hear the complaint “I just do not have time to meet with you every week/month” Then walk away, they do not want a true referral relationship where both parties benefit.

I am going to reiterate this point, if I spend 1 hour with one partner per month and receive 10 potential referrals, it would make sense that if I spent 2 hours, I could receive 20.  (Again do more math).  If your potential referral partner does not see how dedicating a scheduled time to meet with you can directly affect their bottom line then they are not the best partner to work with.  Referrals are easy to get if you spend the time to make it happen.  Make sure your vision matches your referral colleagues.


Step 5 – Visit their office

Really want to learn your colleagues business? Visit their office and watch how their staff interacts with patients.  Get to know the referral coordinators and spend time with them to really get to know them.  Believe it or not, most doctors neglect this step and forget that the staff are the one’s initiating the referral.  Build a strong relationship with them, and you will be rewarded.



Every time you meet with a potential colleague ask them to review this document and agree to a proactive relationship where both parties will benefit.  Without this type of agreement, your referrals will never come.


Feel free to share your tips on referral networking.

Request a Demo

See how ReferralMD delivers a better experience for providers, staff, and patients.

Learn More