Updated: May 22
Pam Clark – Zest4life Associate & Business Mentor
When I think about working with collaborators and networking, the two words that come to mind are ‘partnership’ and ‘fun’. I have been a member of formal networking groups for a long time and I love the opportunity they give to meet new people, talk about my work as a nutritional professional and explore how our relationship might develop to benefit both of us. Although these meetings can seem daunting for the first time, they are a wonderful way to spread the word about your nutrition business, and what you do, to a brand-new group of people.
What’s the difference between collaborating and networking?
Both collaborating and networking offer a fantastic opportunity to expand your audience and talk to people that you otherwise wouldn’t reach. With a collaborator you will frequently work on a project together, whether that is running a group programme or providing content for each other’s clients. Networking may have less direct involvement, but is a great way to reach other business owners and expand your network of contacts, whether for referral or as clients in their own right. Let’s look at them both in more detail…
Working with collaborators
If you are looking to boost the audience for your nutrition business, then working with a collaborator can be an incredibly rewarding way to achieve this. There are two main ways that you may choose to work with a collaborator; either by running a group programme or event together and sharing both the work and the income, or through their involvement in marketing your programme to their audience in exchange for a referral fee or a reciprocal arrangement in the future. In this case they won’t be involved in running or contributing to the programme itself but will help spread the word about you and your work. Either way, a successful relationship with a collaborator can be a true partnership, and one that could last for a long time.
Before approaching a potential collaborator, it is important to spend time thinking about the qualities that are important to you when working with someone. Do you need them to bring business acumen or marketing know-how to the relationship? Or is someone with similar core values to your own more important to you?
Depending on your ideal client, professions that complement nutrition and have proved successful collaborations for Zest members are those that support people to either feel, or look better. These include personal trainers, chiropractors, physios, osteopaths, hairdressers, spas, gyms, pilates teachers, yoga teachers, mindfulness coaches and personal stylists.
You might also want to consider whether they have the following:
a good business head - are they successful at what they do?
an established client base with regular communication through newsletters and social media - is their audience actively engaged with them?
a knowledge of nutritional therapy - do they understand what you do and can they support this?
similar core values - do you align both professionally and personally?
If the answer to all of these is yes, then you’ve found your perfect collaborator!
Building your network
Networking can be done both informally, and formally. In fact, informal networking takes place every time you tell someone about what you do and the people that you support. Both offer an opportunity to widen your audience and spread the word about your nutrition business.
Formal networking groups may be local to you, or online, and often follow a set format. Each participant will be invited to speak for a minute to introduce themselves and talk about their business. This may be followed by a longer presentation by one member, and then the chance to have break out meetings with fellow participants.
These break out meetings give the opportunity to find out more about the person you are speaking to and (and this is key to the success of networking) allow you to understand more about them and their business so that you can help them add value to their clients. By offering to provide nutrition-based newsletter or social media content, run workshops or generate referrals you will, in turn, be supporting the growth of your own nutrition business.
One of the benefits of a formal networking group is that everyone there has chosen to attend to meet other business owners. There is an expectation that members in the group will champion others when the opportunity arises. Such groups include Business Women Connections, Ladies who Latte, Women in Business and Synergy Networking, although many smaller, local groups can also be found.
It is worth remembering that not only are you connecting with members on a business level, but you are also speaking to them as potential clients - as well as their family and friends. Networking meetings really do offer you the opportunity to reach many more people than you would do normally.
How to make collaborating and networking work for you and your business
For me, the key question when I talk to other business owners is ‘how can I help you?’ I go to networking meetings, or initial discussions with potential collaborators, wanting to know as much as I possibly can about the person in front of me. What is their business? Who are their clients? What are their goals and dreams?
Once I have the answer to these questions, then I can start to come up with ideas on how I can work with them and their clients in the best possible way for both them, and me.
It is this idea of a reciprocal relationship, that benefits both of us, that underlines my networking approach and helps build long-term partnerships.
But the single most important thing? Go out and enjoy yourself! Attend networking events, arrange separate discussions with members, nurture new contacts and have fun meeting new people and talking about you and the work you do.
Effective networking is just one of the business skills you will learn as part of the Business Growth Programme at Zest4life. To find out more, book your 45 minute complimentary business mentoring call: https://zestmentor.as.me/45mins