Networking is an important part of entrepreneurship. As the old saying goes “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”
But what does “networking” even mean? And how do you get out and do it?
Old-fashioned networking events and groups can feel stuffy and sales-y, with a strong ‘what-can-I-get-from-you’ vibe. Often times, there is very little emphasis on true connection or collaboration.
If the idea of getting out and networking overwhelms you, don’t worry. You don't need to get out there and meet everyone, but there are a few key people you should form mutually beneficial relationships with.
Here are 5 important connections you should make as a wellness professional:
1. Complementary Wellness Professionals
Connecting with other wellness professionals is essential because they are most likely to see the value in your work and send their clients for complementary therapy.
A strong network could include a nutritionist, personal trainer, naturopathic doctor, acupuncturist, chiropractor, massage therapist and any other wellness professionals you might recommend to your clients.
The more you refer your clients to those in your network, the more likely they will be to refer their clients to you. Everyone wins.
When you meet someone who you want in your network, let them know you have some clients who would benefit from their services. Ask for some of their business cards to keep at your office. Over time, it's likely that they'll do the same.
2. Local Businesses Who Cater to Your Niche
Local businesses that your ideal clients already know, like, and trust are a key connection. Find a way to offer massive value to these connections, so that collaborating with you will be a no-brainer.
For example, if you’re a nutritionist who specializes in children’s health, look for stores that sell baby feeding accessories. You might offer to give a free workshop on making baby food at the store. Don’t focus on your sales pitch. Don’t ask for anything in return. Just offer value to their customers.
Once the business likes and trusts you, they’re more likely to send their own customers to you, like when a new mom shows up with questions about feeding their toddler.
3. Influencers Your Ideal Clients Look Up To
If Oprah endorses a product, you can guarantee that women aged 35-50 will go out and buy it, right? So, you need to find your local Oprah! Connect with socially influential people in your niche and find a way to offer them value.
Look for bloggers, writers who contribute to local publications, speakers, or anyone in your niche who has social pull. But keep in mind that these people get pitched to regularly, and are used to businesses trying to use their platform for promotion. Lead with an introduction and make a genuine, personal connection.
The great thing about connecting with influencers in your space is that they can offer amazing insight into what your clients might be interested in. Don’t view them as just a source of promotion, because they can smell that from a mile away.
4. Event Planners
Creating a solid relationship with a great event planner is great for your business. Event planners are used to networking with vendors who have product and service-based businesses, but wellness professionals aren’t always on their list.
As a wellness professional who offers meal planning services, some of your ideal clients may include brides, new moms, athletes, or seniors. Connecting with people who organize weddings, baby showers, sports events, and milestone birthday parties can be highly beneficial.
Even if your business won’t be represented at the events themselves, you want your name to be the first one to come to mind when a bride-to-be tells her wedding planner "I'm trying to get in shape for the big day." Likewise, if one of your existing clients gets engaged or pregnant, you’ll be able to point them toward an amazing event planner. Win-win!
5. Registered Medical Professionals
Doctors, Nurse Practitioners, and other registered medical professionals have limited time to spend with their patients. They often don’t have the time or training to help patients make lifestyle changes.
The healthcare system and primary care providers need wellness professionals who can coach clients through the changes they need to make to improve their health. Consider putting together a resource on the importance of nutrition for managing a specific condition you specialize in. Then share your resource with a medical professional you admire and want to build a relationship with.
Not only can this increase your chances of a referral, but it helps build awareness of the benefits of nutrition-based interventions. It also increases the likelihood of doctors discussing this with their patients.
We challenge you to connect with at least one professional from our list this week.
All it takes is a friendly email, phone call, or in-person introduction to begin a relationship that could generate referrals for your business. So get out there and start making some genuine connections!