CHICAGO -- One doctor at a time. That’s the advice that Wendy Williamson of Esquerre Fitness Group had for people who want to get their foot in the door with the medical community. It takes patience and persistence. It also takes going where the doctors go.

Williamson talked about how she had been working on getting a face-to-face meeting with a doctor for quite some time. Eventually, he began referring some patients to her and even sent his wife to her, but she had not yet met him personally. That is, until one day when she was sitting by the neighborhood pool in her swimsuit, and he walked into the pool area with his wife. Bathing suit or not, Williamson introduced herself. Sometimes you have to grab the opportunities when they present themselves, she said.

Williamson also said you can’t just rely on phone calls. She said you must go places where doctors hang out—golf courses, art galleries, sporting events. And don’t be shy about introducing yourself.

“It’s all about networking,” she said. “One person at a time. One client at a time. It will work.”

She said to make a list of everyone you already have a relationship with—doctors, nurses, chiropractors, physician assistants. Get in touch with them. And then think about your club’s existing clients/members. They probably have more than one medical condition, which means they have more than one doctor. And don’t forget that you probably have doctors who are members of your facility, so find out who they are. Consider doing reciprocals with them (a free assessment for referrals).

However, before you do any of this, you must ensure that you have professionals in your facility who are trained to handle the conditions that you’ll be receiving, which means elevating your trainers’ education and certification standards. If you don’t have the proper people in place, all your networking efforts will be for naught.