Building a Better Professional Network

The scope of practice for personal trainers only reaches so far. Having a robust and varied professional network elevates your success and allows you to assist your clients in a more holistic fashion. In other words, a wide professional network allows you to train clients in more than the physical dimension of health. Here’s how to get it done. Benefits of Establishing a Strong Network Every professional needs a network. Establishing a robust professional network reduces liability, nurtures new connections, develops new client leads, and elevates your professional profile. As the old adage says, there’s power in numbers. Make your professional network strong and varied to take your game to the next level.    Where to Start Chances are you already have a start to a professional network. Networks usually start unintentionally as a result of the first job you obtain or through an internship opportunity you pursue. To further enhance your network, evaluate the types of professionals you already have in your network. Doing so will help you identify gaps and need. Next, assess your skills and strengths and purposely seek out contacts who can complement and contrast your unique attributes. This will help you avoid the limitations of a “group think” mentality. Finally, identify areas of potential weakness or capacities where your scope of practice is limited (i.e. nutrition, injury management, special populations, etc.). A personal trainer’s scope of practice is clearly defined when it comes to specific professional areas. At minimum, I recommend integrating a registered dietitian, a physical therapist or athletic trainer, a medical exercise specialist, a mental health professional, and a business advisor (if you do not have a business or marketing background). Where to Seek Potential Contacts Just as friendships can develop in unorthodox ways and in unconventional places, so too can professional relationships. Don’t limit yourself to networking at the gym or at professional conferences. A few ways to “meet” new contacts include:
  • Leveraging the power of social media. Follow other professionals on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Instagram. Engage with their posts and comment.
  • Volunteering with a local organization or humanitarian effort.
  • Attending local events or “Business After Hours” networking offerings.
  • Reaching out to local schools (trade schools, high schools, community colleges, and/or universities) and asking to present to relevant classes on topics of health/fitness.
  • Asking current clients for recommendations for other professionals.
  • Researching personal interest groups or social media groups.
With the power of technology and distance communication tools, networking is easier than ever. Harness that power and find new and creative ways to collaborate, cross-fertilize ideas, and nourish relationships. Challenge Yourself Don’t feel as if you must have a strong network immediately; building greatness takes time. Intentionally and thoughtfully integrate professionals into your network and invest the necessary energy in cultivating those relationships. Set small monthly challenges or goals to help you achieve network growth. In doing so, you will naturally be able to harvest what you plant. Get ready, get set, go!