How to Make Money Networking as a Gym Owner or Personal Trainer
As the saying goes, "when you open your mouth, you put your business in ‘da streets". So, on a personal level, whatever comes out of your mouth reveals something about your identity and what kind of person you are.
Another way of putting this is that whenever you open your mouth, you are selling, whether you think you are or not, whether you want to or not. It just is.
In his landmark book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie claimed (rightfully so) that networking is a fundamental part of doing business. I’m not going to get on a soapbox and tell you that you should be networking and connecting with people, as I assume you already know this. Rather, I want to share the winning strategies of how to network and make money, so that when you are opening your mouth, magic happens.
I’m going to break down, step-by-step, how to make money networking. In 2015/16, I made a total of £37,500 a year ($65,000) from just 5 clients, by merely attending three networking events on a regular basis. One of those events was BNI Leicester. In fact, there is BNI right here in Singapore too...
Now, I wasn’t in an upmarket area, like Mayfair, London, or New York. My business was based in Leicester (named “the poorest city in the UK”) and in that depressed area, I had to compete with 49 other gyms and 245 other personal trainers.
I’m under no illusion. You may have tried networking in the past and it didn’t turn out too well. It may have felt awkward. You didn’t quite fit in because you were just the muscly guy in the corner.
You felt out of your depth, uncomfortable, didn’t know what to say or do. It was not your usual social crowd. There were tea and biscuits instead of protein shakes, cereal, and fry-ups, and overweight business people snarling at you … you get the picture. Who in their right of mind would want to experience this?
Don’t worry. I was just talking about myself above. But, was that the same for you also? Or something similar?
I totally understand. And being the introvert I am, I struggled even more. It was at that point that I went looking for expert help. And what comes of it was more than I ever imagined. Both professionally and personally, I grew and you’ll see and feel what I’m talking about once you’ve followed through on this.
Side note: I won’t be sharing which networking events to choose. This really comes down to personal preference, as in who is your preferred client avatar. Don’t know who or what client you should be attracting, book a quick 15-minute call here and I’ll help you out!
So, let’s begin by putting the foundations in place.
Shaken not stirred, enter James Bond.
Dress about 10% better than you expect your prospect (where “prospect” = another business owner) to be dressed. Do not overdress or underdress.
Above all else, the number one reason a person decides to buy a personal training package is that they liked the person they talked to. 75% of sales are based on emotion. They don’t have to reach a state of ecstasy by talking to you. You just have to do enough for them to like you. A sharp outfit and a tight smile is usually enough.
You should be immaculate when you first meet your prospect. This means you should smell good, but not like a cologne factory. Have your hair trim and neat. Take care of the details, top to toe, inside and out, to physically appear as good as you possibly can. Leave the gym gear at home. Wear a fitted suit.
Keep these questions in mind. What is your projection to the public? What is your appearance like? Do you practice what you preach? Are you a role model? How do you sound to others? What do your words actually say? How well can you listen?
Suspend your current beliefs, rules, values and standards
Why? Because they are not serving you as well as you need them to! If they were, you’d be experiencing a life much, much better than the one you are in right now. Your current way of thinking and doing isn’t allowing you be your most powerful, influential and charismatic self.
Learn to put yourself in the state.
“The difference between peak performance and poor performance is not intelligence or ability; most often it’s the state that your mind and body is in.”
- Tony Robbins.
We all get in lousy psychological and emotional states at times. But when you find yourself in that special place, right before you enter the networking room, make a conscious decision: change your body and get in state.
Learn the qualities and characteristics of people who possess true chivalry
Sharp, Enthusiastic and Expert Status
Something I learnt from Jordan Belfort:
If you can’t present yourself as someone who is sharp as a tack, enthusiastic as hell, and an expert in your field, you literally cannot move your game forward. It’s that simple.
I would repeatedly say this to myself, or as Napoleon Hill of Think and Grow Rich would put it, AFFIRM this, as I drove to the venue:
"I am sharp as a tack
I am enthusiastic as hell
I am the expert"
Having sold many high-end packages, I can tell you, in this economy, your clients are more discerning, more circumspect, more analytical, and more critical. They want to trust, but will make you dance to get there.
In other words, they want expertise, not just workouts and blocks of sessions. They want the best value for their money, not the lowest price. In addition, these business owners you are networking with are, in fact, potential clients, just as their employees and customers are, so they will be assessing and judging you harshly. They want the best and are willing to wait and to apply for the opportunity to work with the best, most competent specialist in weight loss, health and fitness.
Now, that you are aware of this. We can act upon it.
• Who is your best client?
• What are their battles?
• What challenges do they have?
• What frustrates them?
• What are their biggest struggles and pain?
• Why do they need you?
• What keeps them awake at night?
• How many diets and gyms have they been to?
• What do they want, exactly?
If you have a firm handle on this information upfront, it allows you to be able to share stories of your clients and — most importantly — why you do what you do. It also enables you to identify your client targets.
I guarantee you these prospects will then respond favourably to you when they feel they are being treated warmly, professionally and with respect. They will feel this because you did the homework. They will be amazed and delighted because your sincere empathy and knowledge will make them feel like you already know them. It’ll be the sales version of love-at-first-sight.
The goal of the networking event is not only to set up an appointment for the prospect to come visit you at your gym, but also to establish a strong enough connection so the prospect is compelled to actually show up for the appointment. The FOMO will be so potent, they’ll have to come.
Make a good first impression
Harvard states that the first 30 seconds of a meeting are critical, however, I believe the first 4 seconds of any encounter are the most influential. This adds pressure, but there are specific preparations you can make so that your message is fully received and, in turn, you hear music in response: YES!
Introduce yourself by your first name and always greet with a handshake. It should be softer (but still with authority) for the lady and much firmer for a gentleman. Eye contact is equally as important.
When introducing yourself to a woman, try and keep your eye level below hers. Empirical research suggests that most women are more comfortable and less intimidated when their eye level is higher than those around them. This can be difficult, especially if you are standing tall, but you should bear this in mind. Even if you are physically unable to lower your eye level, just the conscious awareness of this phenomenon tends to positively affect the interaction.
Be certain to note the person’s speaking and listening pace (they are generally identical) and match them closely as possible. This “mirroring” creates a connection. Do not speak so fast that the person cannot process what you are saying, and do not speak slowly if the person processes rapidly, as you will bore the crap out of them.
In the early stages, it’s perfectly natural if you are nervous about networking events. If so, take some comfort in the fact that the other persons are probably nervous as well.
Quick tip: take advantage of the brain’s natural organization and, if possible, keep the prospect situated to your right when shaking hands, sitting and communicating. This makes the interaction more of a “left-brained” engagement, for both you and the prospect, and tends to cultivate more relaxed, analytical conversations. When that happens, business happens.
Be familiar with the terminology of the business or profession of the prospects you meet. I heard some great advice long ago, the source of which escapes me. But here it goes: when you use the exact same buzzwords your customer does, it identifies you as an “insider” and nudges your prospect more into the ‘yes’ category.
Show sincere interest and fascination with the person in front of you. If you fake it, you’re done.
They must feel your authentic interest in what’s important to them, in their pursuits and business. Another word for this is rapport, and nothing helps this better than possessing an honest and caring interest in the person you are trying to influence.
Okay, this is where it gets more interesting.
You must learn to be the leader of your business demands. A leader influences the mood of the group. To get others to trust you and have more faith in your opinion than they have in their own, there are a few things you have to learn how to get comfortable with.
Just like building those muscles of yours, it’ll take practice and exercise, but I can assure you it will be worth it. These are clutch life skills.
In networking events, you’re probably affected by what other people think of you. I was the same. In these situations, we quietly leave and beat ourselves up for not doing all the things we know we should have done.
It stems from a fear of offending people. As humans, we crave approval and validation. We got that approval with our bodies, but not so much with our communication, social and business skills.
A mentor of mine, said it best, “Joe, either stop needing approval from other people or do an awesome job of giving them the impression that you don’t need their approval.”
He would then go on and say; “There is a saying, ‘Nice guys don’t finish last; pleasers do’. You can’t aggressively go for what you really want in life with 100 percent focus, effort and enthusiasm while desperately trying to please other people at the same time. It just doesn’t work. You will end up pleasing nobody.”
That was a lightning jolt right to the heart! It fiercely pissed me off, because for the previous ten years to hearing this I had been playing that same old story. I knew it. He knew. And he called me out in the ring. Something had to change.
I no longer stay in the middle, one foot securely in my higher confidence and the other foot pandering to whims of other people. I no longer said, “maybe” or “let me think about it” or “well, what do you think” or “I’ll try”. This was the feckless kind of language and communication I used to deploy.
If that language sounds familiar, just be more decisive. Yes, or No. Have the courage to choose a side. Trust yourself more.
When you have this confidence and verve, people naturally gravitate towards you. Then, when they are in your orbit, you can lead them.
You are not a personal trainer. Those are boring.
It is essential coming up with your own elevator pitch.
First, let's see what the definition is.
I like Wikipedia’s
“An elevator pitch, elevator speech, or elevator statement is a short description of an idea, product or company that explains the concept in a way such that any listener can understand it in a short period of time. This description typically explains who the thing is for, what it does, why it is needed, and how it will get done. Finally, when explaining an individual person, the description generally explains one's skills and goals, and why they would be a productive and beneficial person to have on a team or within a company or project. An elevator pitch does not have to include all of these components, but it usually does at least explain what the idea, product, company, or person is and their value.
An elevator pitch can be used to entice an investor or executive in a company, or explain an idea to a founder's parents. The goal is simply to convey the overall concept or topic in an exciting way. Unlike a sales pitch, there may not be a clear buyer–seller relationship.
The name—elevator pitch—reflects the idea that it should be possible to deliver the summary in the time span of an elevator ride, or approximately thirty seconds to two minutes.”
Put simply, when someone asks “Joe, what is it that you do?” I DO NOT REPLY WITH “I work as a personal trainer at…”
If you do that, you miss your opportunity to leave a lasting impression. Given that you have only a few seconds to make that impression, don’t waste it spouting the bland resume crap you hear everyone using.
It has to be memorable. To this, it must appeal to both sides of the brain, both the rational and the emotional, so that long, long after they leave the event they are still thinking about what you said. If you’re good, they’ll be compelled to share what you said with friends and family at another event that same day.
This spiel has worked well for me:
“I am Joe Hanney, I’m a multi-award winning performance and change specialist, speaker and business owner."
"I help ambitious business women overcome their biggest fears and challenges when it comes to achieving their dream body…”
With these two examples, one makes you want to fall asleep. The other creates mystery, curiosity and leaves the prospect wanting to know more.
You may feel obligated to leave them a business card. Boring. Forget business cards. Give them a book. This plot twist makes the exchange even more memorable because you are making the familiar unfamiliar.
See, they are so used to receiving a business card, it’s no more memorable than getting handed a receipt at Starbucks or brushing their teeth. It’s automatic. When you swap out one boring physical object (the card) with something more exciting (a book), this creates a story worth sharing.
They might say, “I met a guy, Joe, the other day, Instead of giving me a business card, he gave me a book.” Then, not only one person, but two people are talking about you and your book.
Or get this, they may ask to take a selfie, share on their social media… and… viral… anyone! Referral Marketing at its best!
It doesn’t have to be a book. It can be anything you do, at anytime, in the networking process which snaps someone out of autopilot long enough to see you.
When you have an ideal prospect who is showing real interest, take their details, and plant the suggestion that you’ll “try” to give them call in 3 days time. Don’t call them in three. Call them in five. It’s a bit like dating, where absence and distance creates desire.
Start the phone conversation with something personally related to them which you purposely remembered from your previous conversation with them. It could be simple, like remembering that they were heading to the park that afternoon with their children.
This warms the space enough for you to then ask a series of thoughtful, open-ended questions, which warms the space further for you to eventually present your offer. Remember that they are smart, and they're totally aware that you are selling to them, but also remember that nobody likes to be sold to, especially in an aggressive way.
If you’ve done your part to create the conditions for rapport to be built, they’ll usually reciprocate.
Popping the question and getting a “YES” is then only a matter of tact and timing.
One of my go-to methods for creating these conditions of success is offering free sessions. To learn how I use these to sell high-end packages and command the highest fees, email me here.
One more important thing. If all this networking mumbo jumbo seems boring and too much work, let the numbers excite you.
If the value of getting just one client is worth $15,600 a year. And the average a client would renew every year for 3 years. That’s $46,800. I don’t know of any other marketing tool that would give that kind of return on investment. If you then do group or semi-private coaching, you can serve more people by leveraging your time. Then the money really gets interesting.
Know your numbers. Period.
Many opportunities and success came from networking. That’s how I created the Dine on a Diet Concept, became a judge for Miss Great Britain and sponsored awards at prestigious events like the Leicester Mercury Sports Awards.
It’s how I was a featured columnist in local magazine and newspapers. It’s how I met the Lord Mayor. It’s how I was a judge at Leicester's Got Talent and received the invite to watch Leicester vs. Manchester United in a posh box when Jamie Vardy beat Van Nistelrooy’s record!
I think back sometimes, and wonder what it was like for another personal trainer in the same city as me, watching me become a local expert and celebrity. I never ever had to search for clients. I am here to tell you that neither do you.
I say this not to brag or impress you, but to impress upon you the fact that you do not have to struggle anymore. You can create and master whatever market space you want to play in. You know my background.
If you want that market space to be high end, and if you want to have more time and freedom in your life while making exponential cash, you can!
If you feel it’s the right time, ask me how I can help lock out your competition for good.
How would you now introduce yourself at a networking event? What would you say to make yourself memorable?
Prefer to discuss this over a 15-minute Strategy Session? Click here.