Referral Marketing for Dietitians: How to Use LinkedIn to Increase Client Base

Dietitians in private practice know the importance of referral marketing, or the process of creating and maintaining relationships with allied providers for referrals. 

However, many dietitians feel stuck when it comes to referral marketing, not knowing all the options available to them. 

In this article, I share ideas for how dietitians can leverage LinkedIn to enhance their referral marketing efforts. 

Step 1: Be clear about what makes your practice unique

It’s helpful to have a competitive advantage in your market. Take some time to consider what makes your practice unique among others in your community or niche. 

Obviously these questions are useful for all your referral marketing efforts as a dietitian in private practice, but it is also important to include them in your LinkedIn profile.

Here are some examples:

  • Conditions treated/clinical niche: do you treat the same conditions as the physician you are seeking referrals from? Do you work with the same or complementary patient populations?
  • Appointments: do you offer virtual or in-person appointments? Either one could be a selling point depending on your area.
  • Social factors: do you speak the language of the population that might be underserved in your community? Do you serve an underserved or challenging population in your community?
  • Insurance accepted: physicians love when dietitians accept insurance. 
  • Your approach to nutrition: do you have an approach to nutrition that might jive well with allied providers? Perhaps you specialize in eating disorders so are seeking referrals from therapists.
  • Additional services: Do you offer complementary services like cooking classes, products, corporate wellness or nutrition lab testing that allied providers might want to offer but don’t have the capacity for?

Step 2: Optimize your LinkedIn profile for referral marketing

The goal of profile optimization is 1) to ensure that your profile shows up in the top of search results for keywords you want to be found for, and 2) that your profile is visually appealing and arranged in a way that it is immediately clear what you have to offer. 

You need to take a couple of steps to increase your likelihood of developing a referral pipeline for your nutrition business through LinkedIn. 

First, highlight your clinical specialty.

You want it to be immediately clear what conditions you treat and what populations you serve. You will be reaching out to people who do not know you yet (more on that later) so the sooner they can see that you have clinical overlap, the better. 

Here are some places in your profile that you can include your clinical specialty:

  • Headline
  • Banner image
  • About 
  • Experience
  • Skills

Second, follow industry leaders.

You want to show referring providers that you share the same interests as they do. 

Follow the pages of relevant players in your niche and follow thought leaders in your niche. Even better if you engage with these industry leaders by commenting on and resharing their content. 

Third, talk about your work and share social proof. 

I know sometimes it can feel weird to talk about ourselves. But, if you do not feel like you are always talking about your business and who you serve, then you are probably not talking about yourself enough. 

Talking about your work on LinkedIn means sharing content that highlights your expertise and offers value to your audience. 

If you want to learn the exact method for creating content on LinkedIn, then check out my free guide Content Creation for Career Growth

This is critical: you must share social proof on LinkedIn. This means gathering and sharing client testimonials and sharing quantitative and qualitative data on the impact of your work. Referral marketing relies on good social proof.

Step 3: Ask for referrals from your existing network

You know how people on LinkedIn share that they are open to work? Seeking referrals is no different. Share that you are open to referrals. In my opinion this an underused element of referral marketing for dietitians in private practice.

So how does this work? Create a couple of simple images in Canva with your image and a title that says you are accepting referrals. Simply rotate them throughout your content queue. 

I recommend sharing this a couple times per month reminding your audience that you are open to referrals for patients within your specialty area in your practice. 

And before you start adding new people to your network, remember to connect with your network and let them know through direct messages that you are accepting referrals. 

I think it’s important to mention that referral patterns are two way streets. So when you do reach out to ask for referrals, let the person know that you will also refer to them as is appropriate for the relationship.

Step 4: Research and connect with allied providers

Once you have thought about your competitive advantage, optimized your profile and asked for referrals from your current network, it’s time to branch out and meet new people who can support your referral marketing efforts. 

First, research allied providers in your niche

The LinkedIn search function is robust and I show you exactly how to use it in my course, Networking for Nutrition Professionals

Here are some ideas for who and what to look for. 

  • Search regionally. Look for “physician in XYZ town” and see who comes up. 
  • Search based on niche/specialty. If regionality is not important or relevant, then search for providers in your niche. For example, I am a renal dietitian, so I search for nephrologists and urologists. 
  • Follow business pages of allied providers in your area. When you follow their business page, you can also see who works there. 
  • Remember PAs and nurses. PAs and nurses can be great allies for dietitians when it comes to referring.
  • Seek out administrative staff. Look for referral coordinators, scheduling coordinators, patient onboarding specialists etc. 
  • Don’t forget about dietitians. Dietitians can easily refer to each other and it elevates all of us when we send business to each other AND help patients find the right dietitian for them. 

Second, introduce yourself through a connection request.

Wait, you mean send a connection request to someone you’ve never met before? I certainly do! That is what LinkedIn is designed for. 

Here are some tips in case this feels weird to you as you start out.

First, remember that the work you did to optimize your profile should give the recipient of your connection request a pretty good idea why you are connecting. 

Second, send a personalized note with each request. LinkedIn allows up to a certain amount of personalized invites per month before you have to upgrade to premium and I’ve never felt the need to go past that amount.

Third, if you have a mutual connection, consider asking them to introduce you to that person on LinkedIn. 

Final thoughts on referral marketing for dietitians

Being active on LinkedIn is a great way for private practice dietitians to enhance their referral patterns. Following the process below you will start to see an amplify your overall referral marketing strategy.

  • Be clear about what makes your practice unique.
  • Optimize your LinkedIn profile.
  • Ask for referrals from your existing network.
  • Research and connect with allied providers.

Want more support? Then check out my course Networking for Nutrition Professionals

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