Beyond a Cup of Coffee: Creating Referral Relationships That Work

Chiropractic marketing coffee

Networking and making new contacts are all a part of building referral relationships. In an ideal scenario, you’re meeting other professionals who get what you offer and you get them. The conversation is easy, fun, and full of excitement at the potential to refer people back and forth. So, why is it that after you meet with someone who appears to be a referral partner, nothing happens?

Let’s set the stage here. You sit down with a potential referral partner to get acquainted and talk shop. Naturally, you’re eager to talk about your practice and who you can help. You exchange some ideas and see synergy.

You walk away feeling excited that someone’s “got your back” and will funnel new patients to you, but the phone never rings. No one comes in from their office or checks out your website, yet you’re hearing that your referral partner is passing out your information and talking to people about you, so what gives?

It’s all about the approach. It’s not just thinking that referral partners naturally happen, but actually having an action plan and putting two critical steps to create referral relationships that work.

Step 1: Set an Agenda Before the Meeting.

Typically Chiropractors go into a meeting just hoping to get a referral partner without mapping about what they want to get out of it. So the first missing element is about strategy and knowing what questions to ask to best determine if this person will actually be a good referral source.

Without strategy, the end result is just having a nice chat over coffee. Perhaps you exchanged some ideas and found common ground, but what’s missing is an action plan.

[quote_box_center]You want to exchange strategies, not pleasantries.[/quote_box_center]

Now this isn’t to say that you’re going to show up as some hard-core business person. Still be yourself. Be personable and engaging, but do it all with purpose, not just for conversation.

One of the worst things that can happen is that one person dominates the conversation or getting lost in idle chit-chat. Ultimately one or both of you will leave feeling empty-handed. So think about some powerful questions you can ask that really get at the heart of what you want to know about each other.

Chiropractic coffee

A few examples:

  • What are the top 3 things I need to know about you and your business?
  • How would you describe your ideal client?
  • What is one thing I could do to help you get clients immediately?

With the right questions, the end result is knowing for sure if this could be a good mutual referral relationship. You also create the opportunity to answer the same questions yourself. And most importantly, you’re more able to identify ways you can work together.

Step 2: Have a Referral Method.

Don’t just expect that your referral partner will know what to do and hope for the best. You need to educate your partners on how to get referrals directly to you, so determine what you want that method to be before you start creating new referral relationships.

Map out how you want a referral partner to talk about you. How do they describe who you are and what you do? Don’t leave that for them to figure it out. Take the hard work away and give them a few bullet points to use that accurately describes you and how you can help.

Then identify what your referral method is. Do you want to offer a consultation? Do you want to be connected to a new referral via email or phone? Whatever method you choose, have it be a specific action step where YOU can take the initiative, rather than waiting for someone to reach out.

Following these two steps is what will create the best referral partners, have effective meetings, and make your network a marketing machine for your practice.


Jen Faber Chiropractic CoachAfter breaking away from burnout and frustration early in her career, Dr. Jen Faber, DC is now on a mission to coach freedom-seeking chiropractors on how build a practice they love through her individual coaching and online training programs. She is the creator of the House Call Practice Program and the Unleashed Coaching Program to empower chiropractors with the guidance, tools, and strategies to build a successful practice. To get free training and find your freedom in practice, visit