As you know, the most influential person in a doctor's life is another doctor.
This leads to the logical question: should you offer a financial incentive to encourage doctors to tell their colleagues about you?
To answer, please allow me to share a story with you. In 2005, I lost my home and my possessions in a house fire. As I was watching my house burn, a firefighter came up to me and asked, "Is there anything precious in the house you want me to recover?"
I was not going to ask this man to risk his life for a possession, so I said, "No."
I thought about my gratitude for these firefighting heroes who put themselves in harm's way every day. I made an appointment with the fire marshal and asked, "What can I do to say thank you to the team that stayed at my house for hours making sure the fire was really out?"
He said something that stopped me in my tracks. "Vicki, I know that your intentions are good. However, for firefighters, the work is its own reward. When people give us gifts, it takes away from the sense of service and honor. Why don't you just bring in some cookies."
Physicians are motivated by a sense of service. We're wired to help others--including our colleagues. We don't need a financial incentive to inspire us to help other doctors.
There's a word for people who do for money what others do out of a desire to connect. Offering a referral fee to physicians places you at risk for attracting the wrong kind of doctor client.
Yes, recognize the doctors who tell colleagues about you. The best reward is a note letting this doctor know how he or she makes a difference in the world.
What do you think? Do you offer a referral fee? How do you say thank you to people who make introductions? Please weight in below.