If you’re a coach in training, it’s an important question: how do I find people to practice my coaching on?
One way or another, I’ve had a fair bit of practice at doing this over the years – and even though I’ve now done a lot of coaching, I still regularly look for practice clients when I want to try something new.
So when a student on Advanced Metaphor Mastery asked for help to find her first practice clients, I felt qualified to share a few tips:
- Look for people who are friends of friends, rather than those who already know you in your current role. I’ve found this makes it a lot easier to adopt a coaching role from the off, rather than starting a session with chit-chat and catch-up, then having to manage a transition to coaching.
- Allow people to do you a favour by asking explicitly for their help. Eg. “Can you help me find ten people who…” Everyone wants to help! Requests for help will be shared widely on social media, particularly if you ask people to do so.
- Within this frame, I usually ask my network if they know anyone who fits a problem description which sounds pretty specific, but actually applies pretty widely. For example, “People who are fed up with their job but can’t decide whether to stay or go” or “Parents of teenagers who are having challenges with exams” etc.
- If you can fit this problem to the kind of clients you’d like long term, all to the good. But don’t feel you have to define your “niche” in infinite detail before you begin. Work comes from work, but in my experience, never in the tidy, linear way you expected.
- Without a specific problem statement, it’s very difficult to attract clients. Not many people want coaching – they just want their problems to be solved. People who “just want to talk” and have no specific outcome in mind can make very difficult coaching clients, but may be attracted by a general offer of “free coaching”.
- Don’t be afraid to coach over skype or phone. Even though you may have learned your trade face-to-face, working without the visual component can be easier and even more useful for the client. Read more.
- Most people start by offering free sessions. An alternative which has worked for some people, and which I intend to use next time I would otherwise have offered free sessions is to do the sessions in exchange for a charitable donation. You should get fewer no-shows and you may be able to use the charity’s energy to spread the word.
What has worked for you when it comes to finding practice clients? Please comment below.