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When many of us get started in the fitness industry, we are ambitious to work with anyone who will let us train them or who will pay for our services. But there will likely come a point in your career when you have that "aha" moment and discover that you tend to gravitate toward a type of client with whom you resonate and truly enjoy training. It may be athletes, children, seniors, cancer patients, those who are physically or mentally challenged, prenatal clients, moms, brides or working professionals.

Once you have determined your target niche, a valuable tactic to build your client base is to create your Top 10 'Think Up' List. Your 'Think Up' contacts are those ideal partners with which you can create relationships to build your business and establish yourself as the expert in that niche. These contacts should be people who can have a direct or indirect impact on your business; people who are directly connected in your niche, people you want to meet, or someone who is connected.

For example, if you are focused on training seniors research and write down the local organizations or business connections that attract your ideal senior client: the director of programming at your local senior centers, the activities coordinator at active adult living communities, presidents of local charity organizations, geriatric doctors, etc. Never underestimate the power of a connection; above all, your ultimate goal is to get the specific names of the people with influence and decision-making power and work from there to make the connection.

When creating your top 10 'Think Ups,' don't let fear or intimidation hold you back; and more importantly, you have to let others know who you want to meet. Many people genuinely like to connect others. If you train collegiate athletes and you want to make a connection with the head football coach at your state's Division I university, be sure to put that coach's name on your list along with other decision makers (recruiters, trainers, athletic directors, etc.), then think of who you know that may already be connected or how you may be able to be introduced. When you're in conversation at networking events, charity functions, with your current clients, or even at your daughter's dance recital, tell people who you want to meet. You never know who knows who; keeping your 'Think Ups' on a piece of paper won't serve any purpose.

Tackle your list by focusing on one 'Think Up'' each week. Make calls, send emails, find people who may be able to connect you, attend events they attend, send a handwritten card or your favorite book with a personal note. One 'Think Up' each week for 10 weeks. Be sure to track your progress. It will take time to establish and foster these relationships; but it can have a direct and significant impact on your business, your ability to serve your core client and give you more overall satisfaction in your career.

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