By guest author Keeley Mitchell, Zi Living
Happy New Year!! I know it is a little late but this is the first chance I have had to wish all you beautiful yogis out there a happy new year. I truly hope your 2014 is off to a great start.
My year is definitely off and running. However, over the holidays I entrenched myself in some heavy self reflection. Most of this reflection had to do with handling the passing of my aunt.
On October 14, 2013, my aunt passed away. Out of the four sisters my mom had, I was closest to my Aunt Betty. She was also my beloved godmother who doted upon me as well as my children. When the holidays hit, her presence was truly missed and caused me to retreat into solitude.
One of the things I reflected heavily on was the out pouring of love and support I received from so many people.
In particular, there was one group of people that reached out to me to offer their condolences and ultimately inspired me to write this piece.
Who were these inspiring people? Surprisingly, my current and former business clients and contacts.
Having my professional contacts reach out to me got me thinking about the role of relationships in business. More specifically, how these relationships are imperative to growing one’s yoga business.
The secret to growing your yoga business?
It really is not a secret. Actually, it’s quite obvious, but we often forget. The secret to increasing your student numbers is to build genuine and meaningful relationships.
People do business with people they like. Students return to your class over and over again because they like you and feel some sort of connection to you and the way you teach.
Excellent training and the perfect studio location are only part of the equation. They mean nothing if you fail to connect and build relationships with your students.
Seven easy steps to building meaningful relationships.
1. Reveal Your Authentic Self.
Don’t hide behind a curtain! Reveal your true self. Your students want to connect with the true you. So let them see it.
I openly share that I was in an unhealthy marriage for eleven years that nearly destroyed me; that I was not happy practicing law in the traditional sense; and that I have three crazy, beautiful children. Freely sharing these key facts humanises me and allows me to build deeper connections with my tribe.
2. Be a Good Listener.
Connecting with students is a two way street. Pay attention to the stories that your students tell you. After almost two decades of dealing with clients, I always appreciate the personal information they confide in me.
Clients have shared with me information about the homes they were buying or selling; details about their vacations; births of their children and grandchildren; and the pain of losing a love one. Many have shared very personal information and cried on my shoulder. A few years ago, I was so touched when a student felt comfortable enough to share with me his personal story about having a sex change operation.
Listening well deepens the connections you have with students, suppliers and business colleagues.
3. Show Interest and Connect.
Whenever information is shared with you, show interest. If a student is telling you about her dog, then ask about the dog’s name, breed, age, etc. Show genuine interest in getting to know your students. And whenever possible, find a way to connect with them. If you have a dog as well, share that piece of information. Having things in common with your students builds a rapport.
4. Find a Way to Remember.
Come up with a system that helps you to remember the information you gather from your students. Think about how special a student will feel if you remember to ask her how her children are doing or whether her ill mother has gotten better. Not only will your student remember this small gesture, but it will deepen your bond.
Remembering where students are and what’s going on in their lives shows that you care about them.
5. Be of Service.
Be willing to help a student out even if it is not directly related to yoga. For example, a student may be interested in finding a great vegan restaurant or a preschool for his son. Be open to sharing some knowledge you may have that could assist your student. Extending a helping hand beyond the confines of the studio walls will always be appreciated.
6.Celebrate Your Students’ Occasions.
Make it a point to acknowledge your students’ birthdays, anniversaries and successes. Sending them a birthday card or calling them to say congratulations on their job promotion will make you stand out in the vast sea of yoga teachers.
7. Stay in Contact.
You don’t need to call them every day. However, sending a simple “How have you been?” email every few months can do wonders for keeping students returning to your class. Trust me, not everyone does this so staying in contact will keep you ahead of the pack.
Will you connect with everyone? Unfortunately, no.
Connecting with everyone will be impossible. As the saying goes, “you can’t please everyone.” And while that is the case, taking the steps above will definitely allow you to connect with many. Focus on building genuine relationships. Being your authentic self and connecting with others is one of the easiest ways to build the sustainable yoga business you desire.