3 Strategies For Building a Powerhouse Contact List

It's not what you know. It's who you know.

This adage is true in most areas of business, and it's certainly true for you as a personal trainer.

Yes, you can build a decent personal training business on your own. Put in enough time, energy, and hard work, and you're likely going to find some measure of success. But, if you want to knock it out of the park, especially if you have dreams of taking your business online (i.e. selling digital goods or services), you have to team up with others in your field.​

Contact List

Why A Powerful Contact List Leads to Success

When I first launched the online part of my fitness business, I wanted to be a lone wolf. After years of running an in-person training studio that relied on staff and face-to-face engagement with clients, I wanted to be completely independent. My success would rely solely on my smarts and my efforts.

Wow, was that ever the wrong approach.

If I could go back and add up the hundreds, if not thousands, of hours I wasted trying to learn new systems, promote my business, and generate online revenue, it would be embarrassing. 

It took me far too long to learn that others professionals in the industry, even my competitors, hold experience that can save me time and money. By not reaching out to them for help, I stagnated my growth and could have jeopardized the sustainability of my online business.

​In contrast, now that I have built up a powerful list of contacts in the fitness world, every new business venture I dive into, or product I choose to launch, feels simple. No, it's not easy - There's no such thing as a free lunch. But, the path to profitability is clear because I can reach out for help and get it.

How to Build Your Own Powerhouse Contact List​

Here are the 3 strategies I've used (and still use today) to build a network of fitness professionals who want to help me succeed. This will work for you too - You just have to put the work in, and be patient.

Be​fore diving in, I recommend you do a little research. I made a spreadsheet with the following columns:

  • Contact Name
  • Website
  • Domain Authority
  • Email Address
  • Business ​Facebook Page
  • Twitter Handle

​These contacts were the "superstars" in my niche who I wanted to build a relationship with. Having their email address, Facebook page, and Twitter handle gave me multiple points of contact. No, I wasn't going to spam them, but I was going to reach them using the avenue that they seemed to like best.


Domain Authority (DA) is a measurement created by Moz that ranks websites on a scale of 0-100. The higher the ranking, the more powerful the site. 

This was important to me because I knew that I wanted to "guest post" on as many sites as possible. This would give me access to new potential clients, AND it would help me build powerful backlinks to boost my SEO.

In short, I didn't want to waste time with contacts (i.e. website owners) whose websites have low DA​ because those would not help boost my site as quickly as those with high DA.

Want more on this topic? Check out our SEO guide for personal trainers.​

Now that you know who you want to add to your contact list, it's time to make them an offer they can't refuse...

1. Save Them Time

​One of my target contacts was Arianna Huffington, founder of The Huffington Post. I wanted to build a relationship with her so that I could get access to the massive following of people who read her online publication (which also happens to have a DA of 98!).

I knew I needed to "go big" to get her attention, and I also knew that she is very interested in health, wellness, and fitness. What could I do that would save her time?

​I decided to create an amazing resource that listed the 50 best places to find free workouts online. For each workout source, I provided a write-up and embedded a video showing one of their most popular workouts.

This was the kind of resource that would get LOTS of attention on The Huffington Post, which means that it's the type of content Arianna and her team are constantly looking for.​ Here's the result...

Huffington Post

This post probably took me about 10 hours to create, but when I sent it Arianna, she responded within a few hours, connected me with her editor-in-chief, and had my piece published the following week.

Not only has this piece brought thousands of visitors to my website, but it also opened the door for me to write on-going on The Huffington Post.​

I busted my butt to give away something that Arianna and her team would normally have to put together on their own. I saved them time.

How can you save time for one of your dream contacts?​ Are you willing to put in the work to make it happen?

2. Promote Their Business

A common mistake business owners make is to be fearful of their competition. 

As an example, I recently had a guest on my podcast who also works in the weight-loss business. After the show went on air, I wrote a introduction to the ​podcast, created an image, and sent it to my guest, asking her to post it on her blog.

She posted in, but left out any mention of me or my website, and she removed any links that someone could follow to find me.

When I saw the post on her site, I asked why she had edited it in such a way. Her response:

Dave, you and I provide similar services. I don't want my followers to go to you instead of me.​

I completely understand. It might seem counterproductive to promote competing businesses, but that fear is unnecessary. There are more than enough clients to go around - Your goal is to align yourself with the best fitness professionals out there so that you're at least in the running!

Thinking back to this guest on my podcast...

I had her on my show, exposed her to my audience, promoted her business, and helped her generate new leads. In return, she wouldn't even link back to my website.

Do you think I'd help her in the future?​ Likely not.

Instead of being afraid of your competitors, look for ways to ​highlight them, praise them, and associate yourself with them.

One easy way to do this is via a Roundup Post.​ Below is an example I did that generated many new relationships, lots of links back to my website, a ton of traffic, and new leads every day.

In fact, this roundup, promoting other people's businesses, is how I got to know Mark Sisson over at Mark's Daily Apple. This strategy works!​

Food Blogs

3. Ask For Their Expertise​

Everyone loves to feel smart. Everyone likes having the answer.

If you want to initiate contact with a dream contact, ask him or her for advice or an opinion. ​For example,

I'm writing an article about weight-loss and would love to share your favourite tip. I'm a big fan of your work and know my audience would love hearing from you. In return, I'll link back to your site and provide your image so that everyone knows who this great advice came from. Would you mind sharing a one-sentence tip?

Who would refuse this offer? 

Here's an example of this strategy being played out:​

Lose 10 pounds

The best part of this tactic is that you have a great reason to follow-up with your target contact. It's completely reasonable that you send another email once your article has been published. Then, you can ask for a social share, strike up a conversation, or pitch a slightly more involved offer. Your foot is in the door!


You've now got 3 highly-effective strategies that will help you build a rolodex full of top-notch fitness contacts. Once your provide enough value to these contacts, they will return the favour. That's when your business will be primed to take off.​

Which strategy are you going to use? Tell me in the comments section below.​

About the author

Dave Smith

Dave Smith was chosen as Canada's Top Fitness Professional for his innovative online fitness coaching found at Make Your Body Work. He now teaches other fitness professionals how to build their own profitable online businesses. Learn more at the Online Trainers Federation.