Networking is a great way to grow your gym and forge new business relationships. But since most of us don't have the confidence of Tony Robbins or the charm of Johnny Depp, what are we do?
Fortunately, networking doesn't have to be hard. Here are three easy ways anyone can be more successful at their next networking opportunity. Follow these recommendations you’ll be networking like a pro.
It’s About Giving, Not Getting
“Before you have something to shill, you need to build up a network of goodwill.” - Austin Kleon
One of the biggest mistakes and misconceptions about networking comes down to this: networking is about giving, not getting. It sounds counterintuitive, but it’s a truth that successful networkers know. When you’re willing to lend a hand, people genuinely want to return the favor.
The more good deeds you do, the more they come back to you. For instance, you might meet a massage therapist or nutrition coach at your networking event. You could offer to post their business cards in your gym. Or offer a block of time at your gym for the massage therapist to come and give massages and the coach to do a nutrition seminar. Your members will feel like you're providing an added service, and your new friends will be quick to share similar opportunities with you.
Be an Amazing Listener
“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” - Theodore Roosevelt
Being an active listener is probably the single most powerful thing you can do to be a great networker. Just for kicks, give it a try. The next time you have a conversation, be engaged and interested in what the speaker is saying. Ask questions and be attentive. Not only will you catch the person off-guard, but also make him or her feel drawn to you.
It really is extraordinary to have a meaningful and connected conversation with someone. Whether we like to admit it or not, we’re often thinking about the next thing that’s going to happen or the text message that’s coming in. Instead, when you’re talking to someone, challenge yourself to be present in the conversation. Doing so will help you connect personally and professionally.
An extra suggestion is to use the name of the person you’re speaking with in the conversation. This is a tried-and-true way of impressing people and making them feel positively towards you. Although it might sound silly, functional brain imaging shows there is a biological reason using someone’s name deepens personal connections.
"By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail." - Benjamin Franklin
A final suggestion for networking like a pro has to do with being prepared. Before you start networking, think about how to succinctly describe your gym so you’re able to sum up your value proposition. Some people call this short statement an elevator pitch. But whatever you call it, make sure you have one and it’s brief but powerful.
And don't forget to carry promotional materials or business cards with you wherever you go.
If you’re looking for fitness networking groups, LinkedIn, and your local Meetup website are great places to look. You can also try out some of the bigger organizations like IDEA Health & Fitness Association.
Even though most people think of networking with a groan, it's worth your time to do it. Just remember to arrive prepared, be a great listener, and look for ways to help others. If you do, you'll have great success.