I wanted to share my thoughts with you about how you can get more professional referrals.

Now let me start by clarifying…I’m not talking about referrals from clients or from friends…or even from business owners who are in unrelated fields.

This is only specific to getting referrals from professionals like physicians, physical therapists, chiropractors or someone who is an influencer in a field like baseball and you’re interested in working with athletes that are part of their organization.

So here are my thoughts in no specific order:


What type of professional relationship do their have with their patients? How long are they connected to that person? How closely are they connected? What role do they play?  

You need to understand their relationship because it’s different from the relationship we have with the people we serve.

We can have a pretty unique relationship with the people we serve because we may see them 3-4 times per week. Most people don’t.

So what’s their scope of practice? How comfortable are they making recommendations? How close do they feel to the people they serve?

The more you know, the better equipped you are to see if and how you can be an asset in their eyes.


We need to always be cognizant of ‘what’s in it’ for the people we want to develop professional relationship with.

I hear fitness professionals all the time suggest that people will refer to them because ‘their athletes will get better’ or something similar…but let me shed some light on that.

As a former college coach and as a coach who is currently part of a travel baseball program – there are more people trying to get access to your players than you can possibly imagine.

As a coach – I’m protective because I know I’ve got some influence…until I lose it by making poor recommendations.

And I’m protective because I don’t want someone tugging my players in a dozen different directions.

And what if someone gets access to my players and decides to steer them somewhere else to play?

In truth – I see all of this for what it is, but this is what goes through a coach’s head when they actually have the time to think about it.

So understand that there is some perceived risk…a fear of a loss of influence, compliance…or even a fear of a lost relationship with that athlete or patient.

So what is in it for them?

First – elimination of that perceived risk.

Letting someone know you’re on their team. You want to have a relationship because you believe in their philosophy. You want to complement what they do…not compete with it.

That not only won’t you steer their patients or athletes away – but you’ll refer to them.

And that’s just a start.

Depending on the person – what other options do you have to add value to what they do? How can you help them or make their life easier…which leads me to my next thought…


How can you solve problems that the professional you want to work with perceives themselves as having?

Well, first you need to find out what they think those problems are.

Do they feel insurance only covers a fraction of the rehab someone needs?

Does the coach feel like they don’t have enough time to address everything they want to cover?

Does the medical professional or coach feel like the would love to have another ancillary offering similar to what you do – but they don’t have the time?

Do they feel like the people they serve have common problems you can solve?

Find out what they perceive the problems they have are…and determine how you can help be a solution.

Sure – you still are doing what you do…but now they’re selling themselves on it rather than you selling them. And you’re able to better explain how you fit in to make their offering better and more complete.


This is the most obvious one…so don’t overlook it.

Give to get.

And don’t worry about keeping score regarding how soon or how often they refer back.

Not everyone thinks the way we do. Not everyone gets this collaborative approach…and even fever get it from day one.

So refer to them…it will at least open the door to a conversation.


Over a decade ago I saw a great fitness professional, Brian Calkins, use the following approach…and I have only seen it a handful of times since.

Send a ‘professional update’ to the professionals you want to connect with.

When you do an assessment or any sort of evaluation – document it and share it with the client’s doctor or coach as a professional courtesy.

Sure, it’s a little work – but now you’re showing up differently than everyone else.

It’s a showing of respect for their role. An indication that you’re on the same team.

You’ve taken a big step toward them seeing you as a peer rather than as someone in a lesser field.

And you’re staying in front of them…in a way no other trainer or coach does.

In addition to this…send them text or emails with updates.

There is so much upside to this…you can’t begin to appreciate it until you do it.


Make them really aware of what you do.

Welcome them into your business…even train them if it makes sense.

Work with them to find an easy way for them to send you business. Don’t add to their workload…find ways to decrease it.

If they know what you do and can speak to it from experience…and it’s easy for them to send people to you, you’ve set the stage for a high probability of success.

So that’s a start.

Obviously it’s not everything…but professionals who can refer to you can be a valuable asset to your business in a number of ways, so hopefully this gets your wheels turning on how you can start building better professional relationships.

By Pat Rigsby

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