Lifestyle Coaching

How to Get More Referrals from Medical Professionals as a Diabetes Prevention Lifestyle COACH

Realizing DPP
August 31, 2022

If you’re just figuring out how to market yourself as a coach, getting referrals from other wellness professionals may seem like a challenging task. 

Yet doctors and medical professionals can be a potentially rich source of referrals. Plus, by tapping into a network of other practitioners, you’re offering services that fulfill an unmet need instead of trying to create a need.

The fact is, most physicians are swamped with work and have little time to spend on patient education. Even if they do, it’s not possible for them to follow up and track progress with every patient, which means that those patients can end up back in medical care again with the same problems. This is especially evident when it comes to Type 2 and prediabetes.

That’s where you’re position as a DPP lifestyle coach comes in. There is an unmet need for those people at risk for developing Type 2 diabetes to get coaching, but you’re stepping in to fill that gap with the coaching expertise you have to offer. 

More and more, lifestyle coaches are filling the unmet need for motivation, accountability, and education. You can make such a huge difference in people’s lives by taking on that coaching role — you may even be the puzzle piece that no one realized was missing in a client’s well-being.

In this article, you’ll learn how to get referrals as a lifestyle coach, including how to get a referral from a doctor or other medical professional. Ready to start ramping up your coaching referral program? Let’s get into it!

Get to Know Healthcare Providers In Your Area

Let’s start at the beginning. 

Start by doing your research about providers and then be proactive about making contacts. Begin with your current location, whether it’s your city or your neighborhood (how far to cast your net will depend on how big your area is, its density of providers, and whether you’ll be working in-person or virtually).

You might consider making a target list of practitioners who have the qualities and experience that would best match with you can offer. Save time and energy by pursuing leads with the most potential.

Reach out in-person with a friendly visit or by the phone. If you call, always let any gatekeepers (receptionists or front-desk people) know exactly what you’re calling about, and never book an appointment just so you can have time with them. You’re there to make a connection, not take up space that’s reserved for patients. Your potential contacts will thank you for your courtesy and consideration.

Pay special attention to newcomers in the area who might be building their practice. Make them feel welcome and appreciated, and set yourself up in a position of strength. If you’re new to an area yourself, you also have a great excuse to introduce yourself to providers in the area.

After you’ve made the initial contact, be sure to stay on their radar. Everyone’s busy, especially wellness professionals, so don’t be afraid to follow up.

You can also get to know providers via meetups, masterminds, or workshops in your area or online. Don’t pass on any opportunities to meet like-minded clinicians who are passionate about supporting the patient's well-being. 

And of course, you don’t need to limit yourself to location these days. If you’re interested in providing services online, don’t forget about networking on social media. You might connect to the perfect fit in another part of your city or state.

Don’t Limit Yourself to Networking With Physicians

Allopathic doctors typically have limited time with patients resulting in few opportunities to answer questions and provide personalized attention and guidance. As a diabetes prevention lifestyle coach, you’re in an excellent position to fill that gap — giving patients with prediabetes the coaching they need to turn their lives around.

But you can also be the go-to resource for other practitioners in the healing arts. Personal trainers, life coaches, mental health counselors, bodyworkers, and other holistic healers can also refer clients who need to make healthful changes to their lifestyle.

Just think about how everything in our lives is so connected — mental, emotional, and physical well-being are all a part of a person’s holistic health. 

If someone is seeing a counselor or life coach because they’re feeling depressed, stuck, or processing significant life events, there’s a good chance that their physical health is taking a hit too. It wouldn’t be too far-fetched to imagine that someone at risk for developing Type 2 diabetes might be struggling with other issues, and that their poor health is making those issues worse.

You never know what can come of new connections, so keep an open mind and introduce yourself to alternative medicine providers or even specialized doctors, such as chiropractors and physical therapists. 

A great way to meet folks like this is through holistic healing or wellness fairs, which you can either attend and network at or eventually even try setting up a booth. 

Wouldn’t it be amazing if a lifestyle coach who changes lives via diabetes prevention had a place right alongside the bodyworkers and Chinese medicine doctors? There would be that much more healing potential.

Cast a Wide Net, Then Narrow Your Focus

When you’re just starting out, you should cast your net wide, exploring and opening yourself up to opportunities as much as possible. So reach out to doctors, specialist doctors, and alternative medicine providers with an open mind.

As you progress, however, you’ll want to refine your process and narrow your focus. Look at your results. Which providers or types of providers are you having success with? Which ones are giving you quality referrals? How reliable are these practitioners? Evaluate your relationships and choose to build strong relationships with those who build you up.

Don’t forget that to get results, you need to put in the work. Relationship building is a two way street, and your networking will be more successful when you reciprocate with referrals. Seeing whether a relationship is mutually supportive and beneficial takes some time, so don’t weed people out too soon. 

Show Appreciation and Reciprocity

When it comes to the wellness field, it’s important to be professional and show that client success is your ultimate goal. Also, avoid being overeager or pushy, which can come across as salesy.

You’re here to make the doctor’s jobs easier and your clients’ lives better, so you want the way you engage in a way that reflects that integrity. Be polite when you contact them and even if you’re following up, do so in a gentle and kind way.

A lot of what goes into creating a successful referral network boils down to good manners. Just like with any other relationship, you want to establish trust early on and continue to build that over time. Plus, you want to establish a relationship of reciprocity — this starts with the moment you make that first call or visit. 

Be kind, professional, and courteous to all staff at the office, starting with the front desk person. If you need to follow up with them, you can do it in a timely manner without seeming pushy. In a small office, word of how you engage with people will travel quickly. You want to generate goodwill and positivity with everyone in their office, so you will be welcomed and appreciated.

Focus on Building Relationships in Your Network

Once you’ve started working with a practitioner, always consider the partnership as a two-way street. 

This looks different depending on who the contact is. If it's an alternative health practitioner like a personal trainer, you can refer clients to them just like they to do you. You may even want to collaborate with them and set up workshops or educational seminars to teach lifestyle management from multiple perspectives.

If you’re working with a doctor or other provider to whom you’re not able to give referrals, focus on the value you’re bringing to them by the quality of care you provide. When you do your job well, you are lightening their load and freeing up time that would normally go to patient education or seeing repeat clients who haven’t followed through on lifestyle changes. 

You can also increase the value you bring and strengthen your effectiveness by providing a summary  (with the client’s permission) of patient progress.

Finally, make the referral process easy for your contact by having a dedicated phone line for referrals, a secure, easy-to-find diabetes prevention program referral form on your website, or at the very least, a business card.

Use Testimonials from Clients as Social Proof When Reaching Out

Trust is one of the challenges you have to overcome when you meet a new contact, and that’s where social proof comes in handy. If you already have happy participants, ask them to write reviews on Google or Yelp and ask them for testimonials for your website and social media accounts.

Not only will these success stories help you market yourself to new clients, they can also help you earn trust of referral partners. Positive reviews make you seem that much more competent and trustworthy.

When meeting with potential partners, have a few success stories ready to discuss, with web reviews or testimonials to back it up. Let your partners know your approach to your work, what your values are, what your goals are, and how you plan to achieve those goals. Demonstrate that you know what you’re doing, and that you’re passionate about doing it.

To gain quality contacts, you must show that you’re trustworthy and reliable. That’s why it’s best to get some experience before you start asking for referrals, unless you know a practitioner personally or have some other way to show what an amazing coach you are. 

For example, if you meet a contact at a wellness conference, have done workshops with them, or have talked about your approach to wellness, they may already be impressed with you and more than willing to refer clients.

Learn More About Getting Referrals With Realizing DPP

A strong referral system will make your coaching career so much easier with a consistent stream of clients. You’ll also help clients more effectively when working as a team and make your contact’s job easier. When done right, a referral network is an all-around win for everyone.

At Realizing DPP, we believe in the power of community. 

We are committed to fostering professional partnerships, mentorships, and connections that empower lifestyle coaches to make the biggest difference possible. Tapping into our community of current and past lifestyle coaches can benefit you in ways you probably can’t even imagine just yet. You never know where a connection might take you. 

Start networking with Realizing DPP today!