Many experts suggest that networking is a great tool for growing a business. But the process can be awkward or uncomfortable for some fitness pros.
Frank Pucher, CEO of 121 Personal Training in Roseland, New Jersey, offers his top tips on becoming a master networker:
- Start with your inner circle or “clients” who have businesses. Assuming you already have a strong relationship with people in this category, ask if you can join them for lunch at work one day. This removes all the barriers of a “lunch and learn,” which is really just an opportunity to pitch your services. During a friendly lunch, they’ll perceive you as “one of the club” and show a greater interest in what you do.
- Join your clients for events, fundraisers or dinners. My wife and I spend at least one night per month having dinner with clients (usually married couples), and we always have them pick the restaurant. This places us in their territory, so there is a greater likelihood of being introduced to people they know.
- Attend sporting events where clients’ kids are playing, especially if you train these kids! Early in my career, (like many trainers) I trained young athletes. Attending soccer games, track meets and tennis matches with parents and being introduced to other parents as “Nina’s trainer who has really helped with her strength, flexibility and footwork” had a profound impact on the growth of my business.
- Go to conferences. I recently attended IDEA Personal Trainer Institute™ East, along with more than 800 other fitness professionals. I didn’t attempt to meet as many people as I could, but I made an effort to connect deeply with at least one person in each session I attended. Networking with other fitness professionals isn’t about telling them about what you do. It’s about learning what others do and how together you can collaborate on shared ideas, struggles or opportunities.
- Minimize Social Media Usage. I know this is blasphemy in this day, but the truth is that networking is about forming bonds. Social media is about connecting with your friends or your base. While the power of social media can’t be ignored, nothing forms a bond better than looking someone in the eye, shaking someone’s hand, and sharing a sincere smile through a face-to-face encounter.
PHOTOGRAPHY: Loren Kerns