Joining the local chamber of commerce. Some say it’s worth it, some say it’s not. The good news is that you’ll likely be one of, if not the ONLY, personal trainer at the events. I rarely see any other fitness businesses when I go and we live in the richest county in the nation, Loudoun County, VA. So our chamber is large. Naturally, the people that see you often at the events will just assume you are the authority on exercise in the area because they don’t see any other trainers out networking. That may be because most trainers don’t like to get out and do a lot of networking face to face, but it is crucial that you move out of your comfort zone if you hope to meet new people and drum up new prospects. Once you get the hang of it, these activities are actually quite fun. I’ve been a member for over 5 years of our’s. There are other organizations besides local chambers that specialize in professional networking like Business Networking International(BNI) among others. It’s been a good experience, but you need to have a strategy in order to be successful. Generally, I try to go to as many events as I can. You’ll have to make a choice as they do have costs associated with them. So going to a lot can really add up, but could be more than worth it too. For me, if I get 1 or 2 clients a year from chamber activities, it’s worth it. Obviously, I’m shooting for more than that. The large breakfasts and after hours mixers are fun and fairly productive. Leadshare is the most productive for us. It’s a name for a program which consists of smaller, but closer groups where members join to “share leads”. You get exclusivity in the group as you’ll be the only personal trainer. You meet twice a month for lunch or breakfast. Each member gets 30 seconds to stand and introduce themselves and give their elevator speech. You’ll want to have a standard and scripted elevator speech and not just wing it. You’ll sound a lot more professional and get the vital information out that you need to your fellow group members. If you don’t have an elevator speech, go to 15 Second Pitch and it is a tool that will help you craft an effective one. I met my certified financial planner (no commission financial advisor) who is a member of my leadshare. That was a good connection for me as he is one of only 300 or so fee only advisors in the country. We also work on several joint ventures together.
If you have a newsletter, it is a good idea to get the people that you have met and have a good relationship with on the newsletter. Another way you can always stay front of mind with your business associates, partners, and prospects. Your most successful conversions to clients will be qualified leads. In other words, if you run across someone who needs to sell a house, try to get permission for the realtor in the group to give them a call or email to discuss the options using his/her services. I RARELY convert referrals where someone just gave somebody my name and number, they rarely call. Try to get the person providing the service or product to get in touch with the prospect if they’ll take it. If you do this, you’ll be far ahead of the rest of the group. There are other events especially during the days in the form of luncheons, and expos, etc. These may be more appropriate for a personal trainer’s schedule as after work hours may be prime time for you to train clients. However, it is vital that you make time to get out and continuously network so that you continue to drive new prospective clients into your marketing funnel. Be sure to check back or subscribe to S.P.A.R.T.A.’s business of personal training blog for more updates and personal trainer business tools and services.