One of the simplest, most profitable and certain ways to get life coaching clients is to build your own credibility. The vast majority of successful coaches report their clients come almost exclusively from referrals, not from advertising. The 11 options below are simple, mostly no-cost ways to build a reputation and a sustainable system of ongoing referrals.
1- Get professional certification. There are many levels and designations of professional certification depending on which program you take and whether or not they are aligned with the International Coaching Federation. You can read more about the ICF here
When you earn those designation, use the icons or badges in your promotional materials, website, social media…
2- Know your expertise and be able to articulate it clearly and often. Social media or a blog are great ways to share your knowledge about your area of wisdom. Stay focused on your one big topic and share freely and consistently so people will begin to know you as the go-to person on that topic. Find ways to connect your expertise to current events and stick to your message. Don’t fall for the temptation of trying to meet every need by being what anyone needs you to be. If you try to be everything, you won’t be known as an expert in anything.
3- Volunteer to coach for free or very low cost in order to get some experience and testimonies. Using actual client testimonies on your website, social media or other promotional materials sends a powerful message to prospective clients. Based on the glowing recommendations of other people, your potential clients will feel 10X more confident about taking a risk on hiring you.
4 – If you like to write, consider writing and self-publishing a book in your niche topic. Promote your book on your website and social media. A published author is an instant authority if you take the time and effort to write quality content, get it professionally edited and formatted, and publish it on a major platform like Amazon.
5 – Give, give, give. Volunteer to do presentations or workshops for local groups. Volunteer in places where your ideal clients are participants or organizers. This is where you live your truth. Just getting out there, becoming a presence, participating in events and sharing those events in your social media accounts helps build your credibility. It’s almost magical how this works. The more you reach out and help freely, the more you come to the attention of the right people who will call you about your services. Unlike a retail business, you can’t “buy” your way to success by paying for Facebook ads when you are in a people helping business.
6- Live what you coach around. If you are a mental wellness coach, don’t be posting rants online. Instead, post about mindset and attitudes for mental health in those times when things are frustrating.
7 – Be different. Stand out by standing alone. Speak up for those values you’ve worked so hard to identify. When you take the lead by speaking up, others will notice. Those who share your values will be drawn to you. Yes, those who don’t share your values will possibly condemn you. There is some risk involved. Know for sure what YOUR values are so you can stand on solid ground when people push back or insult you. Not standing for anything means you will fade into the crowd.
8 – Be authentic. Part of #7, being different, is being comfortable with who you are even when that You doesn’t fit in with the crowd. Being authentic means you don’t need to bend to the wishes of other people in order to earn approval. You know the worth of your authentic self and you speak from that self with bravery and vulnerability. People can spot a phony. They know who is trying to “fake it until they make it.” Potential clients have seen a hundred ads by life coaches. They are sick of the same old same old. They want someone who gets them and their needs. They want someone who has walked the path they are on and has empathy for the challenges as well as the hard earned wisdom that comes from overcoming those challenges. They won’t know that’s you unless you are authentic about who you are.
9 – Be trustworthy. Do not ever, ever share publicly about client sessions. Even if you don’t use the client’s name – they will know you are talking about them. If you don’t have the kind of personal integrity needed to keep client interactions confidential, you will not succeed as a coach.
Also in the spirit of trustworthy character, don’t monetize your website so it’s stuffed full of advertising. When a potential clients lands on a website that is so cluttered with ads the content is hard to find, they aren’t thinking “credible authority who is committed to serving” They are thinking this is someone trying to make a quick buck.
10 – Associate with successful coaches and seek accountability. If you build a network of colleagues to whom you are also accountable, you’ll have a ready supply of excellent referrals. High caliber coaches know their limits, their expertise, and their specialty. They will refer their clients to other coaches if they are not the best fit. You want to be one of those coaches!
11- The last and probably most overlooked quality of a credible coach is the ability to listen deeply to the needs of a prospective client. If you’ve ever tried to explain to a used car salesmen what you want, only to have them steer you immediately toward the car they need to sell, you’ll know what I mean about credibility and listening!