Networking, which is the act of sharing information and building relationships, is a business activity that all personal trainers, nutritionists, and wellness professionals can benefit from. You’ll find a variety of different networking events in most cities, from industry-specific meetings to general business meetings, all providing a great opportunity to expand your network and increase your influence.
But what if you don’t have access to any of these events within your city? What if you’re already attending these events but you want to bring your networking habits to the next level?
Luckily for you, networking has expanded into the online world, providing individuals all over the globe with the opportunity to connect, build relationships, and share knowledge with one another. Facebook groups for trainers and nutritionists, for example, are becoming incredibly popular, and they’re not simply a place to promote your services. Within these groups, you can find many professional benefits. Here are just a few:
1. Sharing of Knowledge
You most likely entered your chosen profession because you genuinely want to help others. You have a vision for a healthier, fitter population, and you hold a wealth of knowledge that will help you make that a reality. Now think of all the information your peers have. Wouldn’t you all be better-equipped to serve your clients if you shared your expertise with one another?
If you’ve built a reputation as being the marathon expert, you can share your knowledge with another trainer who’s recently taken on her first client who’s training for a marathon. Similarly, if you’ve begun working with a client who has a specific need outside your zone of genius, you can reach out to your group for help on how to best serve her needs.
Trainers and nutritionists who are open and willing to share their knowledge not only increase their reputation as go-to experts but they also contribute to helping society as a whole.
2. Potential Mentorship Opportunities
The road to becoming an excellent trainer, nutritionist, and business owner can be a lonely one. One of the best things you can do to advance your career is to find someone who has accomplished what you want to accomplish, and then model their behavior in a way that remains authentic to you.
You may not know any of these individuals in person, but you can definitely find them online! Look for the people in groups who aren’t just posting about their clients’ successes, but who are also offering feedback and support when their peers are asking for it.
Once you’ve identified someone whose advice you value, consider sending them a private message or email asking them if they offer opportunities for mentorship. Chances are, they’ll be pretty flattered. Bonus points if you’ve made an effort to support them in their own business, either by sharing a blog post or following them on their social media accounts.
3. Gaining Feedback on New Ideas and Services
If you’re running your business as a solo-preneur, you may lack the opportunities for feedback that come from working with a team. Occasionally, what seems like a great idea in your head may not actually be the best for your clients or audience. Use these forums as an opportunity to gain feedback on ideas for new services and offers, and to ask for advice from anyone who may have done the same or similar.
If the forum or online group allows sharing of links, you can also share drafts of blog posts, website copy, or ad copy for feedback on readability or grammar. Many small details are often missed when you proofread your own work and having another set of eyes take a look can keep your work looking clean and professional.
4. Networking Opportunities to Build Referral Partnerships
While online forums and groups aren’t the place to jump in with an unsolicited offer of your services, they can be a great place to indirectly build your client base.
Many of these groups have a variety of wellness professionals in them, from personal trainers to nutritionists to life coaches. By participating in conversations and sharing your own knowledge and experience, you can build a strong relationship with these complementary service providers, so if they ever encounter anyone who will benefit from your services you’ll be top of mind for a referral.
If you’ve been actively sharing your knowledge in these groups, you may also become known as the go-to expert within a specific niche. Perhaps you’ve become known as the female fat loss expert. If a marathon coach receives an inquiry from a woman looking to lose weight and he doesn’t feel he’s the best coach to help her, he may refer her to you.
The time taken to build these relationships may be longer than that of other marketing activities, but it often yields greater long-term results.
Make networking part of your fitness business’ marketing plan.
Words of Caution for Managing Your Online Presence
Networking online often feels more comfortable than speaking with someone in person. For many, it can be easier to put themselves out there and allow their personalities to shine.
But it’s important that a certain air of professionalism is still maintained. When you’re responding to a question or publishing a post, ask yourself if you would you speak the same way in person? If you’re building a completely different persona online, your peers or new clients may be confused if or when they interact with you in person or on the phone. This different persona may also be a bit of a misstep from the image you actually want to convey.
It’s also important to be aware of the rules of the group and to stay respectful. Many groups do not allow promotions, but there’s also no definitive agreement on what exactly constitutes as a promotion. Familiarize yourself with what is or isn’t allowed in any particular online group. Sharing a link to your sales page for feedback may be allowed in one group but not another.
Finally, if you’re hoping to gain something from your online interactions, make sure you’re bringing something to the table as well. Offer feedback and support where you’re able to, and make a point to regularly check in to see what’s going on. Those who are consistently active within the group will reap greater rewards than those who pop in to ask a question every month or two.
If you haven’t already, make today the day you join a few online groups for personal trainers and nutritionists, and start exploring the benefits of these digital communities.
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