Rob Johnson, owner and operator of Fitness Together, a personal training business, asked a great question of one of our Clovis Chamber Ambassadors. He's looking for a resource that could help him connect with local Clovis businesses to take part in their Corporate Wellness Program. He said he needs to find businesses that understand, or are open to learning, the importance of how fitness can affect the work place.
Here's how and why networking can help him achieve this goal.
He says he's "looking for businesses that understand or are open to learning the importance of how fitness can affect the work place." That's good because it's specific. It's also good because it describes a company in a way that can be recognized by people within the company and by people who work closely with that company. This is much better than asking your contacts if they know anyone who wants to do business with your company. How can someone know that? But I can be aware if a company has (or wants to have) a culture of encouraging health and fitness in their employees.
The problem is that there is no mailing list for those kinds of companies. There is no publication where he could advertise for that (Okay, there are some related publications and mailing lists that could probably find them...the problem is that there are maybe a few hundred of them in Clovis and maybe more in Fresno, but he'd have to buy much larger lists and spend a lot in advertising to reach those specific people.)
So I believe his best option is to get out there and network. But to do it very, very specifically and deliberately. If I were him, I'd start with a list of my current clients and find out where they work. Then I would ask them if they are encouraged by their company to do this. Try to discover if there is a culture of fitness in the company as a whole. That person who works out with him could be the conduit to the entire company.
Then I would find out if there are any commonalities in the companies that his clients represent. Do they tend to be medical offices? Insurance companies? Small, medium, large? Then seek out those who most closely represent them. You can do this in two ways: cold call (not a bad strategy, but more time consuming and you may burn some bridges on the way) or search your personal network for people who are connected to companies that represent your target market. If there is an industry that is particularly good, search for organizations and groups (such as NAIFA or NAHREP). You have no idea how many of these kinds of groups meet in this area until you start looking for them.
He could also make a wish list of companies that he thinks would be a good target market. Search LinkedIn to find friends of friends. Use your networking activities to ask for connections within those specific companies you want to target. Get ideas from other people on the approaches you might take (for example, HR departments might be a good place to start).
Large generic events such as Clovis Chamber mixers might still be beneficial if you vow to work the room quickly and specifically looking for people who are your target market, asking for referrals or ideas from those who aren't. But the most beneficial networking method is going to be working that telephone and burning the social media midnight oil.
Okay, readers, do you have any more suggestions and advice for our fitness business owner?