Have you ever wondered what separates the winners from the losers in the fitness industry?

It's got to be something because salaries for full-time trainers range everywhere from less than $30,000 to over $200,000, and that's only from training sessions.

I think I know the answer. It's a habit I've noticed in every successful trainer I've studied, and it's what opened the floodgates in my career.

It's networking.

By networking, I mean interacting, sharing information and forming relationships with other trainers and fitness professional at all levels. This word gets thrown around so much in the world of business that its importance may get lost on us sometimes.

For that reason, I've put together a simple networking game plan that should have you making more progress in your career over the next few months then you have in the past few years:

  1. Give value first. This is the number-one rule of networking: you should be looking to give value in your first interaction with someone new, not take it. Offer to do something for them, such as provide a link to them on your site, or write a post about them on your blog. Do not ask for anything until you've given first.
  2. Give credit where credit is due. Another good way to make first contact is to give credit where credit is due. We all love to get praise for our accomplishments, so if you see a trainer doing or achieving something of note, send them a sincere message pointing it out; you'll get instant respect.
  3. Get a mentor. I've never directly asked anyone to be my mentor, but there are lots of ways to do it indirectly. The best is to just ask a straightforward and intelligent question of the other person. This isn't value-taking because it allows the other person to demonstrate their status, which gives them value. Just limit it to only one question!
  4. Stay in touch. Once you've made first contact with someone new, it's your job to nurture the relationship. Send them information they may need; update them on your progress; and, most importantly, send them business when possible. You should be able to stay in touch with your entire list of contacts easily through industry events and social media (like Twitter and Facebook), allowing them to grow into very strong and positive personal and professional relationships.

Fitness is one of the most amazing industries with some of the most amazing people in it. Unfortunately, most beginning trainers fail to realize this (and most never learn).

But if you take the time and make the effort to actively network, you'll find that as a fitness professional, you're part of an amazing brother and sisterhood.

So don't hesitate to seek out and learn from trainers more successful than you, and be sure to pay it forward when less experienced trainers come to you for help. If one of us succeeds, we all get carried a step forward together!