Network Network Network
A PT Magazine article
It’s not what you know but who you know. When it comes to the art of self-promotion, it can be pretty hard to ignore this old adage. You can have the tidiest 8 week training programmes lined up. You can know the quadriceps femoris inside out. But if you haven’t got enough clients to be imparting your wisdom upon, then you’ve got yourself a problem! Networking is not necessarily something that comes naturally but for trainers, it’s central to proceedings. By exploring opportunities within your immediate network of friends or colleagues, opening yourself up to opportunities with the wider world and by pursing your individual passions, my experience tells me you can be well on your way.
It’s a big, bad fitness world out there some times. You’re up against trainers with years of experience, experts with lists of qualifications as long as your arm and Instagramers with more followers than sense. In the face of such stellar competition, backing yourself to others can be a daunting prospect. So start small. With your immediate network, for example. You’ve got a valuable personal connection with these people that the experts are unlikely to enjoy. So take advantage! Ask yourself if any of them could do with some training? What about their friends perhaps? You don’t have to be forcing your mates to sign up for 20 sessions but equally, you stand to benefit by letting it be known you’ve got a service worth offering.
Once you’ve made the most of your immediate network, it’s time to think bigger picture. Being on the lookout for opportunities to discuss your abilities can be hard to do. But at the same time, an entrepreneurial streak can be a lucrative quality. I was in the taxi queue at Ikea (other homeware stores are available) last week when I got chatting to a lady in front of me. We worked out that we were heading to a similar postcode so agreed to share a cab home. During out chat en route back, it transpired that she was looking to increase her fitness ahead of a trek to Mount Kilimanjaro. Next thing you know, we’ve booked in a consultation and we’re going for coffee to discuss booking some sessions. That took the edge right off 5 unholy hours lost in Ikea!
An organic way of increasing your network is to pursue your passions. Are you engaged by nutrition for example? Or have you got expertise in a particular sport perhaps? Chances are you do and by letting others know about your knowledge and strengths in this area, you’ll immediately begin to build a reputation. And who knows where this might lead? A career in personal training no longer has to mean just training clients for 30 hours a week. By diversifying your portfolio, you’re letting the wider world know that you’re a busy, interesting and passionate individual, which can only be good for you and your business!
In my role as a mobile trainer for Motivate PT, the majority of clients have general fitness goals. Many clients struggle to work out unless they’ve got someone there to guide and encourage them. This is really worth bearing in mind. Presumably you’re in the fitness industry because you’re alive to the benefits of a healthy and active lifestyle. This in itself is something that large swaths of the population totally lack. Make sure you let your enthusiasm for your craft shine through as you interact with both clients and other professionals. It’s an infectious quality that won’t go unnoticed and ultimately, will lead to gaining new clients and just as importantly, retaining existing ones.
No article on networking in the 21st century would be complete without addressing the benefits of social media. If you haven’t done so already, it’s time to embrace it - in a big way. Twitter, Instagram, linked in - get yourself out there! Document what you’re up and let your followers know. Don’t be afraid to showcase a bit of personality. And equally, check other people out. Reaching out and starting conversations with people that you find inspiring has never been easier – if they’ve done something great, why not show them some appreciation? Social media is a great way to build up a base of referrals and positive feedback. So if you’ve taken a great class, or helped someone achieve their weight loss goals, don’t be afraid to get them to back you online.
Promoting yourself can be a huge challenge. But by approaching it on a number of different fronts, it needn’t be such a daunting prospect. It can be awkward putting yourself out there at times but it’s crucial to have confidence in yourself so that others can clearly see that yours is a service worthy of the investment.
Whatever it is – begin