Wellness Coaching Australia's Blog

How to Build a Referral Network with Allied Health Practitioners




Working in an industry where quality and credibility are essential, Health and Wellness Coaches can gain a huge advantage when starting their businesses by networking with allied health practitioners. 

It takes time to build rapport and relationship in allied health, but these specific relationships will help you to build the most meaningful connections.
And if you start building your networks when you start your business, you will more easily build qualified referrals and fill your sales pipeline.

In my local coaching business, I networked extensively with GP’s and involved them in the development of my program approach, and within 2 years was being listed on GP care plans and referred clients on a regular basis.

Let’s take a step back and explore what all this means and involves, so you can start building your own relationships with allied health practitioners.

It Starts with Trust

Even when someone is ready, willing and able to get help with their health and wellbeing, they will generally only buy from someone they know, like and trust.
As a new business owner, you may not yet have that trust and connection, and that’s why a referral network is so important.

Further, consider how much more weight an Allied Health Practitioner’s referral has, compared with a referral from a friend or family member. 
People see medical and health professionals as trustworthy and reliable, and that sentiment transfers to you as a referral partner.

It therefore makes sense to start building Allied Health relationships early on in your business, so you can position your business as credible, professional and reputable.

Referrals Build Referrals

An easy way to get referrals from Allied Health practitioners is to meet and network with them and refer people you know to them. Even if you don’t have any clients, you can become their client, or refer people you know to certain practitioners.

Do this and they will get to know you and will more likely want to reciprocate.

Which local practitioners could you use the service of and refer people to?

Networks Build Collective Knowledge

When you maintain your professional networks and relationships, you enjoy an added benefit of keeping your finger on the pulse with developments in your area, and in the health industry more generally.

For example, I recall a Medicare Local meeting that I attended in my Shire. 

I had the chance to network with Allied Health professionals I knew, meet new practitioners in the area, learn about some of the common problems our sector was facing generally in terms of funding, information sharing gaps and key client issues (some of which I could help with) and, I was able to make a couple of useful contributions to this meeting.

I learned very quickly that these sorts of events were worth attending and helped me to support other practitioners while also building trust in my network and identifying new business opportunities.

In addition, as Allied Health practitioners came to know me better, they understood how I helped people, and could send clients to me that were the right kind of client for my niche with the exact problem I helped to solve.

As they say in marketing, I was getting pre-qualified client referrals who were suited to my program and to my way of working. 

The impact of this was to increase my sales conversion rate such that around 90 - 95% of all enquiries would buy from me.

How to Start Building Your Allied Health Network

Here are five steps to getting started with your Allied Health Network.
1. Get professional business cards printed with contact details and website/social media links (ideally LinkedIn)
2. Develop your professional identity along with a clear, simple elevator pitch-style overview of who you help, what you do, and how you deliver that (see the Coaching Success Accelerator, Unit 1, for a step-by-step process)
3. Visit www.healthdirect.gov.au/Australian-health-services to identify health services in your local area and make a list of those relevant to your services and niche.
4. Decide on how you will approach Allied Health professionals to make contact – for example, would you 
a. send a letter, 
b. phone to request an in person meeting, 
c. book an appointment as a client
d. attend an Allied Health event, or
e. Approach a chronic disease organisation?
5. Start scheduling appointments and reaching out to those professionals to introduce yourself and discuss a referral process that suits you both.  They may have something in place that they use, or you could develop something together.

Summary

Referrals are a great way to start and build your business. 

The credibility and respect attached to Allied Health referrals may be as good or greater than referrals from the general public and, they are likely to be qualified leads.

That means you can convert a higher percentage of enquiries to sales.

Further, you get to keep your finger on the local and industry pulse and help other practitioners, plus identify business opportunities.
What are you waiting for?

It’s time to follow a simple, five-step process to building your referral network so you can general a steady stream of enquiries to fill your programs and sales pipeline.

Is Calm a State, or a Skill?


I had planned to write a blog on the topic of “calm” today but this idea was hijacked by an email that appeared from the Global Wellness Institute confirming that coaching is an emerging “trend” for 2020.  They state that:
“Coaching—which finds its origin in positive psychology, therapy and sport—is not strictly categorized as a “wellness” activity, and yet it contributes to the wellbeing of those who benefit from it. According to Carsten Schermuly, a professor of business psychology, coaching “improves the health of people, wellbeing and work satisfaction, performance and self-regulation.” Randomized control tests suggest that coaching also has a “small but significant calming, balancing and responsibility-enhancing effect on personality.
And, of course, while it’s a concept most applied to career and professional development, all kinds of health and wellness coaches are on the rise, from sleep to nutritional coaches.”

Yes, health and wellness coaching is starting to receive attention around its role yet it is still not fully understood. Sleep and nutrition are only two elements of wellness that we as coaches, support people to improve.  I was delighted to read on to an article in the New York Times that was linked, and in particular, a quote from a Doctor working in paediatrics who wrote:
“Though my clinical training is in paediatric medicine, inspired by what I had read, I recently completed a certificate in health coaching myself. The experience was eye-opening and humbling. I learned new ways of communicating with my patients, specifically ways to encourage them to see their own ability to make lifestyle changes while setting manageable goals. I also learned ways to cheer them on when they reach their goals, without shaming them if they relapse: Both pieces are critical to the process of making sustainable change."

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/07/well/live/new-years-resolutions-health-fitness-coaching.html

I think we should celebrate this acknowledgment of our profession and applaud the GWI and NYT for recognising the importance of our growth!

Check out the GWI’s newly launched Wellness Coaching Initiative here.

NOW AFTER THE EXCITEMENT, BACK TO CALM!

It’s one of those words that can sometimes make us feel chastised. We might associate it with the command to “Calm down”! or even connect it with a non-expression of emotion. Yet somehow we all recognise that without calm, we may be in a place of stress or overwhelm! One of the most common goals of our clients is to deal with life’s pressures so the concept of “calm” becomes very relevant in our conversations with them.  Let’s look at a few key points on the topic.

Question 1:  What does CALM mean to you?

The reality is it means different things to different people in different situations.
Is calm a state or a skill?  It can be both.  As a state, we think of feeling a sense of peace and tranquility. We also know that this is not a permanent state (unless we are hiding under a stone or cocooned in a bubble). Calm can be a skill to cultivate - how we relate to life’s difficulties.  Now this is one that has relevance to our coaching!

Calm is about finding a place to restore ourselves so we can feel good about life.  It does not involve a personality transplant.

First identify what calm means to you:

Is it about being less busy?
Is it about getting rid of anxiety and worry?
Is it simply about stopping your brain from whirring?

Calmness allows a clear head and the ability to cope.  
It’s becoming apparent that the opposite of calm can be chronic stress.  Which we know is a killer – of life goals, life quality and good health.  

Question 2:  What is causing your stress?  Really

Here are four possibilities. 
  • Self doubt
  • Self criticism
  • Over thinking 
  • Perfectionism
Try and separate the source from the effects of stress.  Get to the root of the problem. 
Also be aware that we have come to think of busyness and stress as things to be proud of.  They are part of our ego and identity.  What would we do if we weren’t so busy?  This is a hard one to overcome but with time we can come to understand that being seen a certain way is not as important as enjoying our life on our own terms, not other people’s.

It takes time to change ingrained beliefs. Try and get to the heart of the matter and understand what lies beneath the feeling of overwhelm and anxiety?  What is your fear really about?

Question 3:  What can you do to create more CALM in your life?

Slow down – you can’t hurry calm!

If we word our goal as to “feel more calm” we will struggle to achieve it.   That phrase represents more of a value and perhaps would be included in the “why” part of a vision statement.  The question is “how” are we going to achieve.  What changes and strategies can we create?  Like most things worth working for,  it will not be a quick fix.

A few steps might include:

  1. Identify your stressed habits – become are of how you behave when you are not calm – do you snap at people? Does your voice rise? Become aware.
  2. Train your mind to become calm – practice mindfulness and the first step is to have a mindful understanding of yourself.
  3. Is there something you need to heal that is causing you stress?  Deep-seated buried emotions such as grief can filter into our every day lives and destroy our sense of calm.  
  4. Is your life balanced?  - what gives you joy?  
  5. Reframe – at times, learn to describe your anxiety as excitement.  Same symptoms occur!
  6. Calm your communication – speaking rapidly and flitting from one topic to another increases our sense of stress.  Stop and listen to others.
  7. Learn breathing techniques! This is huge.  We tend to breath incorrectly when we are stressed.  Get your body working right and your mind will probably follow.

Being calm is not about being permanently laid back.  It is about living life to the full, having a sense of meaning and engaging in good health habits!  Sound familiar?


References:  Global Wellness Institute
Greaves, S. (2017) (Editor) Real Calm, Psychologies Magazine



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