I have been teaching yoga to children over the past decade. In the beginning, I focused on weekly studio classes, but there were so many variables that lead to inconsistent numbers and undependable income.
On a mission to share yoga with as many children and teens as I could in Hawaii, I decided to put energy into making a living while making a difference, and making my business of teaching children’s yoga sustainable.
This is when I decided to reach out to organizational clients.
Organizational clients already have the financial resources to keep my salary consistent, and because they were already serving youth, I didn’t need to go out into my community to promote my work: the students would already be there. Over the past decade, my organizational clients have included, non-profit organizations, hospitals, and private schools. Following these five steps can help you get your foot in the door, and build lasting professional relationships with organizations.
Create a spreadsheet with the following categories: Organization Name, Organization Website Address, Organization Physical Address, Contact*, Contact Email and Contact Phone. Once you have created the spreadsheet, conduct an online search in your community for Private Schools, Youth Service Non-Profit Organizations and Children’s Hospitals. Start to populate the spreadsheet with as much information as possible.
* The person to contact at an Non-Profit would be the Executive Director, Program Coordinator, Program Director or Events Person. The person to contact at a Private School would be Director of Programs, PTA President, Principal or Secretary. The person to contact at a Hospital would be a Child Life Specialist or Director of Programing.
2. Reach Out
Set aside 1 – 2 hours, 3 days a week, to sit down and make phone calls to the organizations on your spreadsheet. In these calls, introduce yourself, let them know who you are and what you do, and share with them your vision for bringing yoga to the youth in your community.
It’s also important to explain the clear benefits of yoga for children and teens early on in the conversation. For most of these organizations, there are multiple stakeholders involved in the decision-making process, and ensuring their buy-in requires assurance that the program actually works, and will be worth their investment.
If you can’t get a hold of them over the phone, reach out in an e-mail, and always ask to set up a meeting to speak with them in person.
Keep in mind that the people you are contacting are very busy, and it is common for e-mails and phone messages to fall through the cracks. I recommend you call at least twice and send at least two e-mails before moving on, for a total of four points of contact per potential client.
Yoga may not seem very professional to the business world, and therefore potential clients may have already set low expectations for what you could offer in a business relationship. However, first impressions can go a long way. You’ll be sure to make a positive first impression when you meet with your potential client by dressing nicely, being prepared and carrying yourself professionally. Bringing photos or videos of you teaching classes can give the clients a visual of what you would be doing, and if you have a curriculum, be sure to bring it along. Preparing a presentation folder to leave with the client, that includes a sample flyer, a short bio about you, an excerpt about the program you are teaching, and your business card, shows added initiative, and ensures that the client will be thinking about your presentation even after you’ve left the office.
4. Demo Class
Often the best way to “win” over a client is to offer to teach a demo class. As you know, the power is in the practice itself, and very often, the benefits of the work are tangible simply in how children and teens respond to a class. Setting up a time to demo a class provides the opportunity for the client to see your work in action, and have a personal experience with your teaching style. Typically, other staff members, such as teachers or social workers, are present in the demo class as well. Participating gives the staff a chance to personally experience how effective the work is, and in turn, they can be your biggest advocates in securing a position with the organization for the long haul.
5. Follow Up
After your first meeting, always make it a point to send a thank you to acknowledge your client’s time and consideration. More than likely, you will also need to follow up with your contact before a final decision is made. Although you may feel as if you’re pestering the client, in reality, it shows them that you are passionate and committed to your work. Directors of Non-Profit Organizations, Hospitals, and Private Schools are BUSY people, and they will appreciate you having the patience and determination to follow up with them.
Having an effective curriculum can be a powerful tool of persuasion in gaining organizational clients. Check out Yoga Ed.’s evidence-based materials at the store.
Brynne Caleda, M.Ed., E-RYT was a Yoga Ed. Trainer for over a decade before taking over the leadership of the company as CEO. Brynne champions the efficacy of innovative, evidence-based yoga programs for schools to establish lifelong foundations for student’s fitness, wellness, and productivity. Brynne has worked closely with educators, health professionals, and parents to enrich school communities with yoga tools to more authentically and effectively teach to their students and children. Brynne is also the founder of Stretch Your Imagination, a Non-Profit that creates sustainable yoga programs for Hawaii’s schools.