I believe there are three things a professional trainer should have to be at the top of the industry: a solid work ethic, continuing education and strategic relationships. In my mind, these are the foundation to success in our industry. I am sure we could dissect this down to many more things, but in my experience, these three things will keep you at the top of your field.

Many times in the past, you have I have written about having a strong work ethic and the importance of setting a professional example. You have also read my articles on the importance of broadening your horizons with education and adding to your training arsenal. Both of these things will help you keep your current customer base and a great reputation. This month, I want to focus on the importance of strategic relationships.

Strategic relationships are popping up all over the place, whether you are aware of them or not. The reason for a strategic relationship is simple: to increase business and profit. When you walk into a gas station you will usually see a fast food restaurant. If you walk into a grocery store you will find a coffee shop. These relationships are designed to add convenience to the customer, create a warm referral, add exposure to each business and bring a little added value to their patrons.

In the past, strategic relationships kept me training from sun up to sun down! I built a relationship with a few key people and businesses for the same reasons listed above. So, who did I build a relationship with? I built relationships with people that had a profession that coincided with mine and could be a source of referral, a warm lead if you will, from them to me.

A few key relationships that have had a great impact on my training:

Chiropractic physician: I am a believer in chiropractic care. Many of these patients you will find have muscle imbalances, weight issues or require exercise as part of their preventative care. Your clients may suffer from some of the same issues and might benefit from the services of a chiropractor.

Family doctor: Not all of my clients had a family physician, and I wanted to have a physicians' release for my clients. Having a doctor that you know and trust to send your clients to can give you peace of mind as a trainer, and the relationship can generate a lot of referrals.

Orthopedic specialist: Hopefully, you will not need to refer clients to this doctor often but will get referrals from this relationship.

Supplement store: I was lucky to have a locally owned, locally operated supplement store in town with a guy who knew his stuff. I am not a huge supplement fan, I truly believe in more solid food, but ALL of my clients needed a multivitamin.

Massage therapist: This is a relationship your clients may love you for having! I negotiated a discount for the clients I was actually training as an added bonus.

There are many more relationships you can establish that could strategically work in your benefit and the benefit of your clients. Remember, the key is to bring value! A referral from a physician or another key relationship is easier to close than just walking up to someone in the club! Build your relationships and build your future!

Mike McDaniel is an authority of leadership, goal-setting disciplines, sales strategies and corporate physical fitness. He has been a professional trainer for over 18 years and owned two health clubs, employing over 75 personal trainers. Mike can be booked for speaking engagements, sales training or consultant at www.askthewhyguy.com.