When it comes to marketing your wellness business, focusing on client acquisition tends to be the major driving strategy — pursue marketing opportunities to get in-front of your ideal client. Although marketing directly to clients is integral to your business, building connections with other wellness professionals can help you reach new clients in a highly effective way.
Professional networking allows you to create a referral channel with other professionals who might refer business to you, or mention your name in some positive way to the people they know. When establishing your business from scratch, most professionals receive their business by word of mouth.
Beyond meeting and greeting wellness professionals, networking with a strategy allows you to confidently build professional connections. A study reported that 78% of startups refer to networking as integral to their entrepreneurial endeavors. One of the most valuable takeaways from any type of networking event are the new relationships and opportunities made through networking.
Learn how to properly prepare for a wellness conference, seminar, or professional meet-up, with these professional networking tips:
The Benefits of Professional Networking
✨ Open yourself (and your business) up to potential professional opportunities:
In meeting and interacting with other wellness professionals, you’re more likely to find valuable opportunities that will not only create partnerships and other such collaborations, but it can transpire into referrals from others, a larger client base, and sometimes long lasting friendships. Further advocating your skills and interest to an individual in your networking event can additionally lead to opportunities to collaborate with people on projects in which professional interests are shared. There is always the opportunity to collaborate on a project, study or program that may be of mutual to you and another wellness professional.
✨ Learn about local opportunities and current challenges in the industry:
Professionals in the wellness industry, like yourself, can struggle from time to time with the changing expectations of healthcare. Remember that networking with other providers like yourself is mutually beneficial. Obtaining different point of views from other individuals in your field can help set your practice up for success. You never know who you’re going to meet, so don’t be afraid to open yourself up to new ideas and opportunities.
✨ Gain mentorship in areas needed:
Networking with other health professionals will enable you to continue your education. Learning from different individuals can urge you to learn new knowledge and stay connected with the evolving concepts and developments pertaining to your wellness practice.
✨ Create referral channels and establish partnerships:
Obtaining new client leads is something vital you can attain from effective networking with wellness professionals. In creating a relationship with these individuals, it is more likely that they will value your services and speak highly of you to others, and in return, help you establish a more steady flow of clients for your practice.
✨ Gain new client referrals for your business:
Being referred a mutual contact is one of the best ways to obtain a client base. Chances are, a majority of your clients are referred to you by a mutual friend or acquaintance. Develop your networking contacts by asking people if they know anyone in going to the event that you are attending.
Some wellness professionals that generally serve as a great source of referrals for nutrition professionals:
- Psychologists + therapists (LCSW, LMFTs, CBT-therapists, etc)
- Physical therapists
- Eating disorder clinics or specialists
- OBGYNs, doulas or other women’s health specialists
How to Find Business Networking Opportunities at a Conference
Conferences, and in your case wellness conferences, are held for the sole purpose of meeting other professionals in your field who are looking to possibly expand their networks. Attending events can be somewhat intimidating as you don’t know exactly how it will turn out, yet you have to go in with the confidence and ambition that you will be able to terminate great conversations with people and new contacts. One way you can do this is to speak at the event. Professionals will praise you for being so confident and committed, and will likely come up to you after the speech and help you gain more business.
Below are a few tips on how to gain more business networking opportunities:
✔️ Attend Professional Events Outside of the Conference
Generally larger conferences, like the Food and Nutrition Conference and Exposition (FNCE), will have several pre and post conference networking opportunities. These events range from brunches, to talks or happy-hours. Designed to bring together wellness professionals of similar interests, these smaller networking events provide a way for you to really network and build connections with other individuals.
✔️ Seek Out the Event Agenda
Find out the details of the conference or event, and know your schedule. You’ll also want to join the conference newsletter or mailing list so that you don’t miss any opportunities throughout the event – like smaller lunch meetups.
✔️ Follow Events on Social
Most professionals conferences turn to social to help promote their event. Conference-goers may even create their own close on Facebook to help share ideas and network more tightly. Join any Facebook groups surrounding the conference and follow any relevant hashtags on Instagram so you don’t miss an update or connection.
✔️ Consider Staying Overnight
Share a hotel room with a fellow conference-goer to build a new connection. Discuss non-business topics because you can discover similarities and better bond with individuals like yourself. Taking the time to get to know other professionals outside of seminars will create a stronger professional connection.
✔️ Be Confident In Yourself, and In Your Business
Knowing what you bring to the table is important for your wellness business because you don’t want to be undervalued or be taken advantage of for your services. At a wellness conference with other professionals of similar interests as you, you’re going to want to demonstrate how much value you bring. Other professionals will want to connect with you, as you can be a valuable connection for them and vice versa.
Tips for Effective Professional Networking
1. Use Conversation Starters
It can always be a little awkward to be put into situations where you don’t always know what to say. You’re going to want to think of the possible things you could say under these circumstances.
- “What interested you in (Fill In The Blank) conference?”
- “Where were you before joining (Fill In The Blank) company?”
- “What has been your favorite sessions/speakers so far?”
- “I’m trying to improve (Fill In The Blank) — what are you doing, any tips?
- “What sessions/speakers are you looking forward to?”
2. Bring Business Cards and Pamphlets
Even with this generation of social media and the Internet, legitimate business cards and pamphlets are still a valuable asset to have ready at conferences. Handing out business cards to other professionals at your conference is one of the quickest and most effective ways to introduce yourself and share your contact information. If you want to share your social, add your Twitter and Instagram handles and other social details on your card such as website information. You may have only a brief moment to make contact with someone and handing them a business card is always better than a missed opportunity.
3. Step Out of Your Comfort Zone, Be Approachable
Let’s be honest – not all of us are born with exovert genes. If you find yourself shying away from public events, or preferring to absorb yourself in your phone or computer, it can be a challenge to push yourself outside of your comfort zone. Taking small steps to look up, meet the gaze of others and start a conversation will go a long way. Ultimately, by taking these steps, you’ll be opening yourself up to new opportunities, and possibly new clients. You can never know where the opportunities can lead you. It helps to remember that the other conference-goers may be just as uncomfortable as you, but you’re all there to learn new things and meet new people.
Tip: If you find professional networking events intimidating or uncomfortable, don’t avoid them! The more often you attend these events, and the more frequently you push yourself outside your comfort zone, the easier it gets over time. Be consistent and look to attend a professional event once a month, to help you hone your networking skills.
4. Always Follow-up with Your New Contacts
Right after the conference is over, look over any business cards or pamphlets you have received from others and make a list of whom you want to reach out to follow-up. Send an email or Linkedin invite outlining the conversation you had with these individuals you have met and suggest a follow up meet up if you are interested in their services. This can be anywhere or as professional as a phone call, going for coffee or simply for just the main purpose of client referrals. At the end of the day, connect with the person where there are shared interests, or know personally, and a likelihood of a valued connection and future partnerships.
Wellness Professional Networking – Online
Online professional networking through social media has become the fastest growing form of networking amongst wellness professionals. Networking through online resources provides individuals with an association with you on a professional level. This is why you want to keep your appearance professional on all forms of social media, especially for career purposes. Below are popular sites to leverage when making your business go viral.
Linkedin is a business-oriented social networking site mainly used for professional networking. Students on college campuses utilize LinkedIn to search and apply for jobs.
Facebook is an excellent social networking site to gain more business. In addition to finding friends, members can also join professional groups and connect with other group members. If you are connecting with people on Facebook who you want to build a professional relationship with, be careful to portray yourself in a professional manner on the network. Ensure that your profile image shows your professionalism and the content you share reflects the industry in which you work. This doesn’t mean you can’t share photos, etc., just think about how it represents you before posting them.
Twitter is a social networking service that enables its users to send and read messages. Many organizations post job opportunities and events through tweets. This is why it is vital to add professional value to your Twitter. Attract more followers by posting interesting nutrition information and by sharing articles or postings that will add to your business in the hopes of gaining more customers. Get creative and create your own brand to stand out against your near competitors.
Business networking isn’t always easy, but it’s important that you know how to network with other health and wellness professionals. You’re always going to want to gain more business no matter how strong your client base is. Regularly associating yourself with these people will boost your confidence in meeting other professionals down the line. As you keep meeting all of these extraordinary individuals, you’re going to want to establish mutually beneficial relationships and hopefully generate referrals which will hopefully, in turn, give you a stronger standing client base. Overall, we want you to be successful and confident in your health networking skills, so you can learn from others, make new friendships, and hopefully obtain potential clients.
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