Grow an Online Network of Support and Referrals with the Practice Better Community

March 21, 2024

As a health and wellness pro, you’re undoubtedly familiar with Blue Zones – those areas around the globe where people tend to live longer and have lower rates of chronic disease. It turns out a strong community is one of the nine contributing factors driving the health and longevity of Blue Zone residents. 

In short: having the right tribe helps humans thrive. (This is true in life and business.) 

Building a health and wellness practice from the ground up is hard work. It can also feel quite isolating if you’re a solo practitioner. Connecting with like-minded professionals who understand your struggles and openly share their own stories and solutions keeps you energized and motivated to succeed. And professional referrals help, too.

The trick lies in knowing how to find YOUR people. Online spaces – like the Practice Better Community – are a fantastic place to start. We’ll be sharing more about what’s inside the Practice Better Community in this article. But first, let’s talk about the power of networking and referrals for growing your business.

The power of networking in scaling your business

Networking is all about investing in relationships that can bring new ideas and opportunities for growth. Here are a few key benefits: 

  1. Fast-track learning by exchanging knowledge and expertise. 

Networking gives you access to a group of professionals who have experienced, or are going through, the same things as you. 

Every individual has a different perspective on how to approach problems and opportunities, which can help you with creative problem solving. Plus, advice from seasoned pros can flatten your learning curve and save time. 

For example, take a certified health coach who teaches techniques for sustainable physical activity, stress management, and mindfulness. This health coach could benefit from the been-there-done-that advice from a practitioner who built their first online course six months ago. 

  1. Expand your impact through collaboration.

You’re bound to meet practitioners with complementary skill sets when you network with purpose.  

If our certified health coach from above is introduced to a registered dietitian (RD) through networking, the two might collaborate on an offering that combines in-depth nutritional assessments and personalized meal plans with lifestyle changes. 

Networking can also uncover opportunities to expand your thought leadership and promote your personal brand. For example, if a practitioner in your network produces a podcast with a growing audience, you could pitch yourself to be an expert guest to gain exposure to their audience.  

  1. Gain access to new clients.

Practitioners whose areas of focus are complementary to yours can be an excellent source of new customer referrals (and vice versa). Referral partners remove so much of the friction and cost associated with being discovered organically. They also provide a boost of confidence for the client because somebody they already trust is recommending your services. 

It also looks great on you if you make a good referral. As a professional, your clients trust your judgment, so having a pre-vetted roster of other professionals to refer to only increases the value you bring to your clients.

  1. Don’t forget the power of emotional support.

Burnout, imposter syndrome, and more can creep in when you’re building a business. Connecting with people who are going through similar challenges can buoy you through the lowest moments. 

As supportive as your friends and family are, they can only offer sympathy. A practitioner who has walked in your shoes can empathize, reframe, and offer success-shifting advice. 

Tips for effective networking

Follow these tips to get the most value out of your networking time investment. 

  • Attend industry events and conferences. Industry-sponsored events are wonderful for expanding your knowledge and making fresh connections. 
  • If you’re attending in person, put on your extrovert hat and get comfortable with initiating conversations with strangers. Don’t forget to bring business cards to help people remember you after the fact!
  • Connecting through online events is more challenging but still possible. Stay present during sessions, be active in the chat, and take note of who else is chiming in. You can @ mention other participants when they say something that resonates with you. Depending on the format of the online event, you may also be able to take advantage of DM functionality and break-out groups to connect more deeply with participants. 
  • Connect with folks of interest after the fact on LinkedIn or Instagram. Try to avoid DMing a connection request with no context. Instead, add a personalized note dropping in a key detail from your conversation or mention something they said or did that caught your attention and why.
  • Join online communities and forums. Online communities give you access to a wide demographic of professionals outside of your city or town, without the travel expense.
    • Professional associations typically offer online communities specific to the industry they represent. There are many built-in opportunities for networking. 
    • For example, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has a members-only eatrightPRO community members can join. They also offer scholarships, educational opportunities, events, training, and more. 
    • There are plenty of other online forum options out there  – from the network of interest-related communities on Reddit, to private Slack groups, to inclusive wellness practitioner forums like the Practice Better Community. Targeted searches can help you find options that match your interests and experience.
  • Host your own workshop or webinar. If you don’t want to go to the people, why not bring them to you?
    • Host a workshop on a hot topic to boost your credibility and personal brand. This gives you a perfect reason to invite others to join in. Take the opportunity to reach out to thought leaders or influencers you’d love to have in your network.  
    • Curate educational resources for folks to access for growth and learning. 
    • Running an effective workshop or webinar takes time and money. If you don’t have the bandwidth, you could look for opportunities to pitch yourself as a speaker for an existing event that aligns with your goals and expertise. 
    • Attendees can also become part of your network. Invite them to connect with you on your most active social network or join your private Slack channel or Facebook Group, if you have one.

How the Practice Better Community makes networking a breeze for practitioners and customers

The Practice Better Community connects members with a global network of peers who have different specialties, training, educational backgrounds and more. (PS: This is an awesome resource to build your referral network.) 

Since it’s not just for Practice Better and That Clean Life users, the community helps you learn and find inspiration from a diverse pool of practitioners. 

Screenshot of the Say Hello area of the Practice Better Community showing introductory messages from two practitioners in the community.
  • There are dedicated spaces within the Practice Better Community to help members connect with those whose focus, training, educational background, or location align with their own. 

For example, there are separate networking chats available for professional designations such as Nutritionist, Mental Health Practitioner, Functional Medicine Practitioner, and much more. 

A screenshot of the Practice Better Community dedicated showing the networking area. 
  • The Practice Better Community also features chats organized by geographical location. This offers practitioners to learn from one another, collaborate, and build robust referral networks
A screenshot of the Practice Better Community showing a dropdown where you can filter by practitioner city location.
  • You can browse detailed member profiles and a full directory to easily connect with and find your people. Use direct messaging functionality to engage in 1:1 conversations away from the feed. 
  • A handy Q&A section empowers members to tap into the wealth of community knowledge to help solve problems, spark new ideas, and scale smarter. 
A screenshot of the Practice Better Community showing the Q&A section. 

The benefits of establishing referral partnerships 

The wellness industry is booming. It’s also becoming more crowded, with channels like TikTok democratizing access to “expert advice.” This makes it challenging for potential clients to determine who can actually help to solve their health and wellness issues in a meaningful way. 

Referrals are an amazing tool for cutting through the noise. Referral partnerships offer many benefits to you, your partners, and your clients:

  • Referrals save you the work and expense of marketing from scratch.  
  • A strong referral partner provides qualified leads that are pre-vetted by a professional. Bonus: referred clients are more likely to feel confident about working with you, since you come recommended by someone they already trust.
  • A referral partner can also become a valued treatment partner that helps to expand your offerings. 

For example, a naturopathic doctor (ND) working with a nutritionist referral partner may discover that together they can offer more advanced testing. Those test could include comprehensive blood panels, food sensitivity testing, and gut microbiome analysis. 

  • There are benefits to your referral partners too, including the opportunity to earn referral fees (always check with your regulator whether this is allowed), get reciprocal referrals back from you, and deliver better outcomes to clients.

Strategies for fostering referral partnerships

A strong referral network isn’t about having a particular number of partners, it’s about having the right partners. Here’s how to make it happen: 

  1.  Understand your goals. 

Take the time to consider what you’re trying to achieve through collaboration. Do you want to expand your customer base? Provide new services? Explore new formats? It could even be all of the above. Think through your ideal outcomes and match your partnerships to those goals. 

  1. Identify complementary professionals.

Once you’re clear on goals, it will become obvious what types of partners to seek out. For example, if an early-career RD specializing in gut health wants to triple their client list, it makes sense to seek out well-established practitioners offering complementary services. 

If this same RD is more interested in expanding their offerings to drive passive income, they might seek out NDs as partners. Together. you can build a self-directed online course that encompasses nutrition, food sensitivities, supplements, homeopathy, lifestyle counseling, and stress management.  

Don’t forget to factor in each potential partner’s values and approach to care. Alignment between your approaches makes for a smoother partnership and confident referrals. 

  1. Establish clear processes.

Defining roles and responsibilities upfront avoids conflicts down the line. 

Alignment meeting Discuss your respective areas of expertise, treatment philosophies, and goals for the collaboration. This is your opportunity to align your visions before you get too far into the partnership. 
Set up referral criteriaDevelop clear guidelines for making referrals to keep both partners accountable. Consider the following:
How will you identify the ideal clients to benefit from a referral? Consider specific health conditions, demographics, wellness goals, and more. 
What is each party responsible for in the referral process? 
Where allowed, is there a referral fee and, if so, what’s the structure (e.g., one-time flat fee vs a percentage of each appointment)?
Outline value propositionsMake sure your referral partners are clear on your competitive differentiators and the true benefits of your services and expertise. If the referrals flow two ways, then get clear on their stories, too.
Providing your partners with a .pdf handout or quick explainer video can be helpful for them when pitching your services to their clients. 
Outline communication channelsSetting up a communication process from the start prevents information from falling through the cracks. Consider the following questions: 
How will your partner flag new referrals for you? 
Will you provide a unique link for referred clients to reach out through, or a code that identifies them as a referral? 
How will you ensure that messages exchanged between the two of you are secure and don’t expose a client’s protected health information (PHI)? 
Documentation and consentHow will you get consent from clients to share any relevant information between your referral partner and you? 
Creating standardized referral forms and waivers can capture the right details consistently.
Follow ups and feedbackYou won’t know if your referral program is successful without the mechanisms in place to track outcomes. 
Schedule regular meetings or check-ins with your referral partners to discuss the effectiveness of the process and provide feedback where needed.
Don’t forget to ask your referral clients for feedback on their experiences too! As the people going through your process, they will often have insights that you can use to keep improving the process. 

How community impacts business growth and sustainability

Being an entrepreneur can be isolating and the fear of failure is real. Joining a community gives you a place to be authentic and seek connections to keep your spirits high and your business growing. 

  • Get support and encouragement during challenging times. When things get hard it’s easy to second guess yourself. A supportive professional community can offer the kinship and knowledge you need to power through. 
  • Find learning and professional development – from hearing about interesting events to learning about new courses. A bigger network means exposure to more opportunities. 
  • Access resources and mentorship. Uncover access to new funding or technology. Get market validation for your ideas. Borrow proven shortcuts from those who have been in your shoes. You can also share learnings that help others fastrack their success. 

Connect, nurture, and build in the Practice Better Community

The Practice Better Community connects you with the peers, advice, and education you need to grow the practice of your dreams. 

You can easily access the Community space from the Practice Better app, on the left-hand side of the dashboard. That way, your practice and your community are integrated, just how they should be.

Here’s something else exciting: Our Practice Better Community isn’t just for customers of Practice Better and That Clean Life. We’re inviting any and all health and wellness professionals to join. After all, more members means more diverse expert-driven content and empathic peer support. 

You’re welcome to join us too! Request access to the Practice Better Community and introduce yourself to your peers. 

Want a sneak peek? Check out this tour of the Practice Better Community, conducted by our passionate Community Manager, Jen DeJong. 

Practice Better is the complete practice management platform for health and wellness professionals. Streamline your practice and begin your 14-day free trial today.

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