How to Get Your Very First Coaching Client

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January 22, 2021
Podcast

The Everything Life Coaching Podcast, featuring JRNI Coaching founders John Kim and Noelle Cordeaux, is a deep dive into the experience and business of being a life coach. In this episode, we discuss strategies new coaches can use to begin attracting clients.

It's likely no suprise that the most common question we’re asked by prospective life coaches is "How do I get coaching clients?" So we’re here with practical tools to help answer it for you!

But first, let’s step back and unpack the ask itself.

The idea of “getting” clients reflects a performative self-concept of what it means to be a coach. Yes, to build a successful coaching business you’ll need to sell your services. We feel you! But an acquisition mentality is unlikely to achieve the results you’re looking for.

Really.

Inherent in the question is the idea that clients are a commodity, akin to Instagram likes, or notions of a binary existence where we need to check a box to validate our existence, our time, our work or our life.

Yuck.

In what ways might the process change for you if we reframed the question like this: How can you connect with clients? Help people? Serve your communities?

How does it feel to change the question from “get” to “serve”? 

Better, right?

Now let's look at what we know really happens when you “get a client”: 

“The coaching partnership is a sacred joining with another human being who trusts you enough to tell you what is going on with them, where they want to go, and what they hope deeply for themselves. In laying these hopes bare, your clients expose their shortcomings, and blinders, believing that you will hold their hearts with non-judgmental hands and help them harness the bravery to move forward.” - Noelle Cordeaux, JRNI Coaching CEO

So How Do You Attract and Serve That First Client?

In reality, you have probably already had your "first client". Consider:

  • Have you ever comforted a distraught child and helped them calm down enough to reason through a problem or challenge (like the assembly of a pile of legos, perhaps)?
  • Have you ever sat up with a lover and held space for the fear and tumult of a major life change?
  • Have you ever answered the phone to walk through a problem with a colleague or good friend?

If you've had experiences that are similar to these, congratulations! You have served your first “client”. You're over the threshold, and already well on your way to connecting with humans in a profound and meaningful way.

But you went through a coach training program... and you want to get paid. Got it!

As you shift into pursuing this in a professional capacity, we simply want you to remember that how you do life sets the foundation for how you're going to show up as a coach. And this isn’t limited to paid 1:1 coaching client sessions.

Clients are the people you serve.

When we turn the dial to asking how we can most effectively be of service, the paradigm changes. Let's look at what that means in practice:

  • John Kim is a great example of using content (blog posts, social media, publishing books) as a way to amplify service as a coach. This work in turn becomes a natural pipeline for attracting 1:1 clients. 
  • Noelle Cordeaux has parlayed her coaching skills into running an organization - JRNI Coaching is, in effect, her client.

Mental shifts such as these towards service alleviate the pressure, and help us think more broadly about what “success” looks like... as well as where to begin.

Strategies To Attract Future Clients

1.  Start with your strengths

What are you naturally good at? What kinds of activities give you an experience of flow? How you answer these questions can give you a sense of how to orient your practice and where to start.

  • If you love to write or podcast, begin there.
  • If you love to help organizations solve strategic problems, begin there.
  • If you love to dive deep one-on-one with every person you meet, begin there.

This will become your operating system as a professional life coach. Playing from your passions and strengths will also shift you from a chasing to attracting mindset

2. Become a detective

Look for places where your “Zone of Genius” as a coach intersects with everyday life.

  • If you enjoy creating content... what platforms will help to increase your visibility with the people you'd like to reach? 
  • If you want to work in industry... how can you leverage your network to get in front of an individual decision maker, team or organization who could use support?
  • If you love to nurture people one-on-one... where are your captive audiences? Who is having a really hard time right now? Who could use a boost?

Asking these questions of the people around you will typically generate a lead or two. So tell everyone what you are up to - don’t hold back.

Sharing your vision with your circles of influence is likely to surface some new possibilities. Here's a few examples of how it can play out:

  • A classmate from your coaching program reveals how they are getting great responses by writing on Medium, with tips on how you can too.
  • Your next door neighbor has a colleague who just bombed on a strategic launch and needs some help.
  • Your cousin knows some folks who are at their wits end with Zoom and doing everything from home right now, who are desperately seeking a path to restored sanity.

And once you have a lead - ask for an introduction!

3. Remember: A conversation is just a conversation 

Nothing more, nothing less. This should be your mindset going into all your first encounters as a coach.

How does this translate in real life?

  • When you hit “publish” on Medium for the first time? Congratulate yourself. Your words have entered the world so go ahead and relax. 
  • When you email that struggling colleague or hop on the phone to check in? Remember that your job is to listen deeply and try to hear what is really going on.
  • When your sister adds you to a group text with other parents from your nephew’s first grade class who are losing their minds? Remind yourself that your role is to validate their experience and let them know that while it may not feel like it - they already have everything they need to survive.

The common thread here is that you are not selling - you are sensing. You're absorbed in the task of listening, leaning in and showing up in order to be of service. 

When we show up in service,without expectation, we begin to crack the code of authentic delivery.

Here's what we know to be 100% true: every authentic interaction born of service will have a positive impact on client lead generation moving forward. We've trained hundreds of coaches, and have observed it over and over again. This works.

Have as many conversations as you can, and you will begin to learn the ways in which you shine in service to others.  The intersection of intention and service brings you the best possible outcomes for beginning your coaching career.

Visibility and business WILL follow.

For a closer look at the most current data on coaching salaries and income potential, be sure to also check out our Ultimate Guide to Life Coach Salaries.

Want to Join Our Coaching Community?

If you’ve not yet completed your life coaching certification, come check out JRNI Life Coach Training. Grounded in science, our ICF accredited program features authentic instructors, a robust curriculum, and fellow students dedicated to becoming a force for good in the world. 

‍JRNI Coaching: Vibrant community. Evidence-based life coach training. Lifetime support.


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