If you want more patients, LinkedIn has an endless network of referral sources. But you need to know how to use it or you can waste many hours a week with no results.

Unlike Facebook, LinkedIn is a professional community only. With Facebook, you can pick up some direct client leads just from staying active in your personal feed, keeping your company page up-to-date, participating in groups and posting relevant information about your work.

In LinkedIn, it’s unlikely you will get direct patient leads, but you can get a lot of  patient referrals over time. Many practitioners in your community that would refer patients to you have LinkedIn profiles.

You have a competitive edge if you use LinkedIn to grow your referral network. Most of your colleagues are not using LinkedIn for this purpose. They put up their profile and leave it at that. They usually login when they receive a notification and respond at best. So, even if you never look at your news feed in LinkedIn–which few people do–you can still create connections to new referral sources on a weekly basis if you know how to.

 What Not To Do: 

1.   Unless you like your personal feed in LinkedIn, don’t waste time with it. It’s just not generating the type of quality interaction that other social sites are such as Facebook, Instagram, etc. What does that mean? Unless you find it interesting, there’s no reason to comment and like posts in your news feed.

2.   LinkedIn company pages don’t convert that many prospects. Service oriented practitioners like therapists don’t spend a ton of time poking around company pages. So, don’t spend a ton of time on it yourself, because you won’t receive much in return.

3.   Groups at first glance seem like a good place to be involved. On Facebook, you can really gain traction by participating in groups. However, if you comb through the endless LinkedIn groups that pertain to therapy, you will make an interesting and disappointing revelation. For the most part, people are using LinkedIn groups to post blogs. There iaren’t even many comments and conversational engagements going on to get very far in these groups.

4.  There’s no reason to randomly connect with other people unless there’s a professional interest. Some people think that getting as many connections in LinkedIn is the way to go to make it appear as if you’re popular. LinkedIn allows you to send an invitation to anyone right now. This approach has drawbacks. When you connect with a lot of people outside of your field, LinkedIn will start generating a list of people to connect with that aren’t going to help you grow your practice. It also will confuse who to reach out to once they are a connection.

5.  Don’t take a sporadic approach to using LinkedIn. If you are active for one week and then inactive for the next month, you will lose the interest and momentum you are building among your connections. Consistency is key in this platform.

 What To Do:

1.   Although interacting in your personal feed is less important, it is beneficial to post to your feed if you write blogs, videos, image overlays, etc. It keeps your visibility high with the connections you’re creating even though most people aren’t interacting with the post.

2.   Make your profile as good as it can get. Describe your private practice in detail. Focus on who you see and what you do. Credentials do go a long way in LinkedIn. Fill out your profile as much as you can. List your education, past employment, certifications, trainings and other relevant information. Use a really good headshot of yourself. This is essentially a mini version of your website geared toward your referral network.

3.   If you do write blogs, publish them on your profile page. This move will publish the blogs into the LinkedIn publishing platform. People do find articles through this platform based on hashtags.

4.    Make 10 new connections a day by using the search filter and looking for therapists, doctors, alternative practitioners, school counselors and other community members that are in your referral network. When you ask to connect with them go first to their profile page and click connect from there. A window will pop up where you can add a note. Have a short script introducing yourself and that you work in the same field and would love to connect on LinkedIn. If you don’t write a personal note it’s much less likely people will accept your invitation.

5.   Follow-up with anyone who accepts your invitation and seems like a potential referral source. Thank them for accepting the invitation. Let them know a little bit about what you do and ask about what they do.

6.    At this point, conversations are getting started. Whenever a person enters a conversation with you, ask if they would like to get on a 15 minute phone call to get to know each other a little more and about the work you each do.

7.   On the phone call, you need to be strategic. If this  individual seems like a referral source, see if you can meet them in person. It’s unlikely you will get many referrals from your 15 minute phone call. But you will definitely get referrals from in person meetings.

The beauty of LinkedIn is that you can start with people that don’t know you and slowly build a relationship.

 It’s different than cold calling doctor’s offices and asking to meet them right away. That’s kind of like asking someone to move in with you on the first date.

People are much more likely to want to get to know you further by easing into the relationship. LinkedIn also provides you a platform to be highly efficient with your time. You can do filtered searches right within their platform and target specific people.

 Don’t underestimate the power of LinkedIn. In 10 minutes a day, you can find referral sources in your community that can last for the next 10 years. When used correctly, you can start to increase your referral network, make a lot of great friends, not feel alone, and get the clients you’re looking for.