When I first entered the realm of personal training I had no idea how to "pick up" clients, and yet that was the focus and intent of my job. There was so little guidance that I apprehensively approached my fitness director and asked him to help me. His words of wisdom? "Go talk to people." His simple and understated approach left me feeling as if I was the only bird to jump from the nest without wings. The worst part of it was that he was right - to a large degree. If I were in his position and were limited to a lonely one-sentence answer, I may have said something like this, "Make people want to talk to you."
The importance of building rapport should be reinforced continually. Get out there, meet people, and find a way to make the interaction interesting. Leil Lowndes makes a comment in her book, How To Talk To Anyone, that people spend a lot of time thinking about what they are going to wear before going to a party, but don't spend time thinking about what they are going to talk about. Prepare your mind for conversation. So, what makes you want to talk to anyone at your gym?
Here's a short list of things that make me want to talk to people at my gym:
- If someone says "hello" to me, or smiles (but is too reserved to say hello).
- If someone is doing an interesting exercise.
- If someone is doing a dangerous exercise.
- If someone has a lot of friends at the gym.
- If someone is wearing something I think is funny, interesting, offensive (like a Red Sox shirt), or awesome (like a Yankees shirt).
- If someone does an exercise better than I thought possible.
- If someone plays sports that I play, watch, have or have not ever heard of.
- If someone comes in with a different appearance/look.
- If someone looks confused, lost, or worried.
Here is the simplest way to get to talk to people. "Hi, my name is ____." If you are not comfortable with introducing yourself, this may be a tough (and possibly short lived) job for you. It has been said that you should do one thing you know you need to do that scares you daily. And, just like anything else, it gets easier! Lifting weights is difficult, but if you keep doing it, it gets easier. Once it gets easier, you can do what? MORE! Once it gets easier to speak with people you will want to, be able to, and choose to - do it more.
Finally, meet people to meet people, not to "sell them," and don't be afraid to ask for help from others. There are successful trainers all around. Watch them, work with them, question them (and perhaps even hire them). Invest in yourself by investing in training. This can give you confidence in your training and your ability to talk to others. Good luck - and it was great talking to you!