Feeling fulfilled in your fitness career isn’t just about having enough clients to reach your financial goals—ideally, it’s about working with the people you want to work with. Wondering how to attract clients that you want to work with long-term? Employees at a fitness company might not be able to choose their co-workers, but if you work as an independent contractor or trainer, even part time, you have plenty of opportunities to handpick your client base. Consider these four tips for ensuring you’re able to attract and retain the types of clients you want to work with most.
Picture Your Ideal Client
To attract the professional relationships you desire, you must know what you’re looking for. Can you describe your ideal client? Does he or she have a particular interest or skill set, like recreational and/or competitive running? Perhaps it’s more about occupation (urban professional), family status (new mom), life stage (retired) or income bracket (high end).
Your ideal client doesn’t have to be an individual; it could also be a company. As a social media consultant who works from home, I came to realize that my ideal social media clients are brands that provide the opportunity to contribute to a social, team effort. Working with this type of client is a good juxtaposition to the solitary work I also do as a fitness writer/blogger (which I also enjoy). The point is, you don’t have to choose just one type of ideal client. If you’re a one-on-one personal trainer who also likes the energy of groups, you might begin to assemble a team of clients who would be game to join you for small-group training or bootcamp classes, as well.
Sharpen Your Skill Set
Once you’ve nailed down a basic composite of what differentiates your ideal client from other clients, identify actual people or companies that fit the bill. These might be clients you already work with (and you want more like them) or clients you aspire to work with. Now, what skills, credentials or qualities do you need to acquire or sharpen in order to better meet the needs of these clients and attract them your way?
Let’s say you want to help clients who struggle with back pain. What courses, mentorships or ongoing continuing education programs could you invest in to elevate your expertise to a more specialized level, beyond that of the average trainer? Another example: I know how social media works because I use it every day. But so do a lot of other fitness pros. To excel as a social media consultant, I also spend time and money on daily continuing education so I can hear about and apply the best new strategies and updates as soon as they happen.
Keep Your Options Open
Assuming finances allow for it, adjust your schedule to create new possibilities, even if it’s just an open time slot or two each week. The tighter your schedule, the less “breathing room” you’ll have to elevate your skill set and market to your ideal clients. Plus how will you be able to integrate ideal clients into your schedule if it’s already jam-packed? Avoid accepting any new client that takes you on a detour away from your ideal situation (unless it’s financially necessary). Be prepared to eventually let some clients go to make room for the ideal ones.
Make Yourself Known
Picturing your ideal clients in advance of having them helps you better recognize these folks or companies when they do come along. But ideal clients don’t appear out of thin air. Most often, you must go looking for them. But how? One strategy is to network with people who know/have access to them already. For example, what kinds of associations or companies have inroads to recreational and competitive runners? Athletic shoe stores, community races and events, local running or charity groups, etc. Connecting with these associations can help bridge the gap between you and this type of ideal client.
Consider, also, how you can make yourself known to prospective clients directly. Your ideal clients can’t hire you if they don’t know about you. Here are a few ways to create awareness about your expertise and services: participating in community events, public speaking, writing, social media strategy, business networking and hosting fitness events. Make it your mission to reach out to the people you want to work with—most folks are receptive to well-intentioned business networking.
The more you focus on a path to your ideal client base, the closer you’ll get to attracting the people you truly enjoy working with.
Amanda Vogel, MA human kinetics, is a fitness professional in Vancouver, B.C. In addition to being a blogger at FitnessTestDrive.com and writer for popular fitness magazines, she is a social media consultant for fitness brands and public figures. You can reach her at ActiveVoice.ca, @amandavogel (Twitter), @amandavogelfitness (Instagram) and Facebook.com/FitnessWriter.
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