One big question aspiring life coaches have is “Do I have to have social media to build my coaching business?” and the answer is no. While it seems like everyone is online and everytime you open Instagram you’re hit by a world of ads and offers – it’s not the only way to build your coaching business.
We spoke to dozens of Lumia coaches for this article and our big takeaway was that there’s lots of opportunities out in the real world, you just need to find the ones that exist and create new ones for yourself. Time and again, our coaches told us that they were willing to put themselves front and center and to go after new things, saying yes to new opportunities as they arose.
It may not feel comfortable at first, but remember that you are starting something new – like riding a bike, first you start with training wheels and over time you graduate to riding on two wheels with ease.
Let’s delve into the realm of offline business development.
1. Brainstorm As If You’re Helping a Friend
You need to trust yourself and your intuition about your business. However, sometimes it’s easier to think about new possibilities if we’re not imagining that we’ll be the one who has to accomplish them!
A good way to start thinking about what’s possible is to imagine that a friend has come to you for help and is asking you for ideas to help start their business. (You can pretend it’s a coaching business or a massage business, or something similar to coaching.)
Write down any and all ideas you would suggest to a friend if they were going to build their business. No idea is too small, too big or too outlandish.
Once you’re done with your list, “switch back” to yourself and take a look – pick three of the ideas and set a reasonable timeline to try them out, maybe one a month.
2. Start with Your Existing Network
Make sure people know you are a coach! If nobody knows what you do, they won’t think of you when an opportunity arises. Before looking elsewhere, start with the people you already know - your friends, family, past colleagues, and acquaintances.
In the spirit of sharing, let them know about your coaching services and how you can help people. Let them know that you’re looking for clients and new opportunities, and see what comes up.
Your immediate network might not be your target clients, but they probably know someone who is. Remember, people are more likely to trust people and business connections that their friends recommend.
(One of our coaches posted her graduation certificate on her personal social media, and said that it proved very popular for people speaking to her about it offline!)
3. Offer Free Sessions to “Get Your Reps In”
If you want to build muscle, you might head to the gym and get your reps in.
If you want to build coaching skills, you practice, practice, practice.
Lumia alumni Kane Moore said that getting his “reps” in as a coach was essential to building confidence and ease with clients.
Since coaching is a skill, it takes time to build your abilities and to hone your senses for working with humans. Practicing as often as possible means you’ll shake off any nerves and get very comfortable with the process and frameworks.
Offering free sessions when you’re first starting out gives you plenty of experience, and gives people a taste of your services and allows you to demonstrate the value you provide. Once they have experienced the benefits, they will be more likely to recommend your services to others.
4. Be Loud About What You Do
Again, If people in the world don’t know what you do, they won’t think of you when an opportunity arises or their friend needs a coach. While it may feel uncomfortable at first, it will feel more natural the more often you do it.
Many of the successful Lumia alumni coaches we spoke to said that when they were first starting out, they offered coaching to everyone they met. They talked about coaching constantly. They talked about it with strangers. They mentioned it in casual conversations. They introduced themselves as a coach.
Lumia grad Koach Karli specifically said that she got out of her own way, pushed through the “cringe” feeling and practiced as often as she could, coaching anybody that she could.
5. Collaborative Partnerships with Local Businesses
Strategic partnerships offer a win-win proposition for both parties involved. By partnering with local businesses that cater to a similar demographic, you can tap into their customer base and likewise offer your clientele the benefits of your partner's services.
For example, if you’re a health and wellness coach, you could partner with a local fitness center or a healthy food restaurant. You can refer clients to each other or co-host events, workshops, or seminars.
Lumia CEO, Noelle Cordeaux, built a strong practice through partnerships with spas and wellness centers who were eager for new services. She researched spas in her area, put together a package offering her services and pitched herself to spa leadership.
6. Pitch Your Services to Local Organizations.
This one’s all about creating your own unique opportunities through outreach. Consider the organizations and causes you’re passionate about in your community – do they need coaching? Could you get involved and offer your services?
One of our graduates, Coach Vanessa, was passionate about a global non-profit organization that focuses on helping women re-enter the workforce. She got involved in the local chapter of the organization and offered her services. Once she’d proven herself volunteer capacity and they saw what she was capable of, she was able to put together a pitch to work with the organization in a paid capacity and they took her up on it!
7. Say Yes to New Things
Many of our alumni found that the more often they said yes to new opportunities, the more people they met and the more opportunities were created in turn. Even if they weren’t sure if the opportunity was the right fit for them, or they weren’t sure if it would work out – they said YES first and figured out the details next before fear could stop them.
Lumia instructor Barb Matias Haynes said that she volunteered for every opportunity and said yes to every collaboration. She found that by being open and getting out of her comfort zone, she had more natural momentum and met more new clients.
8. Attend Networking Events
Professional meetups, seminars, workshops, and conferences are excellent places to meet potential clients and partners. Bring your business cards, engage in conversations, and listen more than you talk. These events are not just about promoting yourself but also about building relationships. Offer help and your services when appropriate, and people will be more likely to be interested in what you do.
Many small towns offer opportunities to connect through coworking spaces, downtown business associations, or the chamber of commerce. Do some research to find the opportunities that would work for you.
(There’s always plenty of coaching connection opportunities within the Lumia community as well – with thousands of graduates all over the world.)
9. Join a Professional Organization
Joining a local chamber of commerce or a professional organization related to your niche can provide networking opportunities and increase your credibility.
Many of our graduates have joined their local ICF (International Coaching Federation) chapter, providing support, encouragement and momentum as they build their practice. Your local ICF chapter will often have resources and events that can help you connect with potential clients.
Bonus Lumia Blog: 6 Ways a Strong Network Can Help Your Coaching Business Grow
10. Public Speaking
Think about your story and what you have to offer that could help others. Offer to speak at local organizations, clubs, and events. This is a chance to showcase your knowledge and expertise, inspire attendees, and make valuable connections. By leaving a lasting impression, people will remember you when they need a coach or when someone they know does.
Lumia graduate Leigh Leigh Kossman got her start speaking at her local chamber of commerce, and soon was given more opportunities to speak all over her town.
11. Word of Mouth and Build a Referral Program
Word of mouth and referrals remain one of the most potent marketing tools. An endorsement from a satisfied client to their friends, family, or colleagues can bring you clients that trust your service before they've even met you. In order for this to work, you need to provide outstanding service that leaves a lasting impression on your clients.
Once you do get your first clients, offer your current clients incentives to refer you to others. It could be something like a discount on future sessions or a free session once they refer a certain number of clients.
Make sure they know how important positive word of mouth is for your business and clearly let them know what you are offering them in exchange for referrals. This not only encourages your clients to spread the word but giving them something in return also shows your appreciation for their support.
Bonus Lumia Podcast: How to Build a Word of Mouth Coaching Business
12. Hire a Business Coach
Many of our successful Lumia graduates mentioned time and again the value of having a business coach to help them as they built their own unique coaching practices. Becoming a coach and building a new business are two different projects, even though they might feel like they’re the same thing.
Because your coaching practice will be uniquely your own, a business coach can help you set up a game plan, keep you accountable and provide momentum as you go. And if your passion lies more in the coaching side rather than the marketing and business side of coaching, then it makes sense to hire an expert.
TIP: Be careful about who you work with and be sure to vet them carefully – not everyone who claims to be a business coach is a good one or the right fit for you.
Bonus Lumia Blog: Five Marketing Priorities to Boost Your Coaching Business Fast
13. Continue to Educate and Grow
You don’t know what you don’t know! To build a successful business and career will take time and effort – there’s no shortcuts. Continuing to build your coaching skills through education and effort. Plus, the more you immerse yourself in the field – the more ideas and information you will have about advancing your own career.
- Put time in your schedule for continuing education every week
- Listen to podcasts and read blogs that relate to your coaching practice
- Form an accountability network with fellow coaches
- Sign up for additional training and programs that add to your professional development or relate to your niche
The Lumia alumni community is constantly surfacing new podcasts, articles, white papers, research and other coaching information to keep Lumia graduates up to date with the latest from the professional field of coaching.
The bottom line?
Building a successful coaching business offline involves a lot of relationship building. The key is to be patient, authentic, and focused on helping others. It will take time, but it will be authentically yours.
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