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Advice for New Coaches: 10 Ways to Attract Your First Paying Client and Receive Endless Referrals

Many new coaches struggle to attract their first client. Often, these coaches are so desperate to prove themselves, they'll sacrifice their financial health to coach their first few clients for free.

There's no need to struggle like this. As a new coach, you can use many clever techniques to gain trust and raise your profile so that your first client pays what you're worth and walks away singing your praises.

Here's 10 things that worked for me in the first 18-months of my coaching business. If you're new to coaching, use these techniques to heighten your chances of enrolling your first client who will hand over the money.

1. Lead an online forum or discussion board. Having an online forum, listserv, discussion board or email discussion list is an excellent way to build your credibility. Currently, I lead a forum on ryze.com specifically for women who want to become more confident. The women on my network see me as an expert in my particular field and this is one way I build trust. Because I've built my credibility by giving my expertise on my forum, these women sign up for my teleclasses or workshops with no hesitation because they know they'll receive exceptional value.

2. Focus on a niche market. As I mentioned before, I focus on helping women realize their self-employment dreams faster. Because of my narrow focus, I get a lot of clients. And this helps me to build a referral network of women who sing my praises to their peers and friends.

3. Have a provable track record. I'm in awe at how many coaches want to coach people in certain areas, and they themselves have no track record. For example, why would anyone hire a relationship coach who has had 2 divorces and is still single? Or, why hire a business coach who has had 2 failed businesses? In order to gain trust, I focused on one of my strengths - my success in leaving my full-time job and becoming my own boss in 12-months. I did it, so I teach women to do it. Because of this, I gain more trust.

4. Network online. Using social networks to meet people is yet another way to gain trust and raise your visibility. I'm a member of ryze.com, ecademy.com and linkedin.com and I've met alot of great people. Because I actively participate on these 3 sites, people now refer business to me. I have clients all over North America and that's due to the trust I've built by networking online.

5. Submit articles to article submissions services. I can't tell you how many interviews I've gotten on TV and radio stations because the segment producer or production assistant found my articles online. I would highly recommend that you use these services. They help to raise your ranking in search engines based on certain keywords. Also, if people see you in the media alot, they assume you must know your stuff and this is yet another way of building your credibility.

6. Maintain a blog. I've been blogging since 1998, so this isn't new to me. However, what's new is the speed in which search engines pick up my blog entries. Because I update it three times a week, my blog entries show up really high in google.com, depending on the keywords entered. Prospects read my blog, then email to inquire about my services. The media reads my blog and call me to be their local expert on a national or international story. Clients are reading my blog and contact me to extend their coaching contracts. Get a blog as it helps to build credibility.

7. Focus your message. The last thing people want to do is hire someone who keeps changing their tagline, business name or target market each week. I met a coach recently who changed his tagline every time he sent out an email. Then, he'd post questions on coaching email lists asking what he should focus on and how to get clients. In my mind, I would never refer a client to him because he seems scattered. As a new coach, I highly recommend that you do not launch your coaching business until you do some research and write a business plan. More people will trust you if you look polished, focused and in control.

8. Be an expert in something. Don't make the mistake of saying that you coach everyone. Being an expert in one area is much better than being a generalist in every area. Also, being an expert means that people will trust your viewpoint and sign up for your services since you must really know your stuff. So, aim to know something really well, develop your own point of view and be delirious as the clients come pouring in.

9. Develop a newsletter. When I launched my website, I made sure I had a newsletter sign-up box on every page. A newsletter is important to your coaching business because you can provide valuable information to both clients and prospects. I send out a newsletter twice a month that contains an interview and links to related products that I offer. A newsletter acts as a non-interactive conversation between you and the subscriber. When they're ready to hire a coach, instead of searching the web, your newsletter will remind them that you exist.

10. Join a professional coaching association. You can't do this all by yourself, so it's a great idea to join an organization of your peers. That way, you can ask questions in a safe and inviting environment. Also, your peers can refer business to you and this can only happen if trust has been established. I highly recommend the following:

  • International Coaching Federation (ICF)
  • International Association of Coaches (IAC)
  • Coachville
  • Association of Coaching & Consulting Professionals on the Web (ACCPOW)

At the end of the day, it's all about perception. And to some people, perception is reality. So, give people a reason to trust you and most likely, they will.

Leesa Barnes is a career transition expert who inspires women to create the career they deserve through her coaching programs and workshops. For more information about Leesa, visit her website at http://www.savialane.com.

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