Looking for ways to find new clients and build your coaching business? Consider telling more stories!
Personal storytelling is powerful because it cuts straight to the heart of things. From a business development and marketing point of view, an emotionally resonant story is often more memorable to your audience than other forms of information sharing.
Let’s test it out. Imagine you’re scrolling through your social media feed and two short video clips come up:
- A woman talking about how she navigated the challenges of her divorce and came out the other side stronger
- A divorce coach describing the program she has developed to help people navigate the breakup process
Which would you be more likely to stop and watch? Odds are, the personal story is more compelling.
What does this have to do with selling your coaching services?
Most people aren't looking to hire a coach. They want a solution to a specific issue or problem they're facing. So when it comes to marketing your coaching business, you'll want to touch into that emotional place as efficiently as possible.
A list of features and benefits is great if you're buying a car. But even auto manufacturers know the value of good storytelling. Think about most automobile ads - they are usually aspirational. Driving across a gorgeous landscape. Pulling up to a luxurious home. The don't spend much valuable airtime talking about airbags and how many gallons the tank can hold. Instead, they tell a visual story that taps into our emotions and dreams.
Do you believe that YOUR story has the power to change lives?
The sh*t you’ve been through and obstacles you’ve overcome matter. In fact, those very experiences may be the reason why you decided to become a life coach! And here you are: on the other side, and ready to shine a light for others. Sharing your experiences can serve as a beacon of inspiration and hope.
As human beings, we’re wired for connection. And when it comes to building relationships, there’s no faster or more credible way to gain trust and create rapport with a prospective coaching client than by sharing your stories.
When you tell personal stories as a life coach, it’s not just so that people can get to know more about you. The right stories will also hold up a mirror to your audience in a way that allows them to see themselves inside the narrative. When your story touches in on an aspect of our shared humanity, it resonates. It's like the reader is able to see a piece of themselves and their own life in what you’re sharing.
Sounds great, right? Tell some stories, make connections, book more coaching clients. Fact is, it’s not always that easy in practice.
Let’s face it: sharing your personal experiences is vulnerable. And sometimes it’s hard to know where the line is between a helpful share and Too Much Information. If you’re in the process of building your coaching business but feel hesitant about when, how, or why to share your stories, this article will help you investigate those fears and develop a plan of action.
Why Share Your Story?
You’ll uncover your authentic voice
If you’ve ever wondered what a brand narrative is, your voice is an essential part of it. Your voice reflects your coaching business, and helps you to connect with clients who are drawn to your story and experiences.
As a life coach, it is vital to develop a way of communicating about who you are and what you do that is wholly your own. But that’s not always as easy as it sounds! In fact, you may be wondering “what’s my voice, anyway?”
There are many reasons we forget our own voice. Some peole lose touch with it as a result of life circumstances such as trauma and abuse, being influenced by many different people, or being told that your experiences don't matter.
Often, the source is much closer to home than you think.
It doesn’t take a series of challenging life experiences to erode your sense of voice. Look closely and you are likely to discover ways in which you are putting a muzzle on yourself. If that’s the case, know you’re not the only one. Most life coaches are our own worst critics, silencing and shutting down our voice before we ever get a chance to speak up.
The more you practice telling your story, the easier it will be to recognize your distinct voice and communication style. In this sense, storytelling is a homecoming of sorts, a way to get to know yourself better as you work to build your coaching business.
It builds your empathy muscle
Storytelling is an ancient form of human interaction, and helps to build bridges of understanding between people. By telling your story, and listening to the stories you are told by others in return, your perspective expands.
Every one of us has lived through experiences beyond what others can imagine. The process of finding your authentic voice helps you to appreciate how each person is a unique individual… including you!
Sharing challenges you to be more open, to face fears, and get more deeply connected with others. This in turn can have the effect of making you more empathetic, which is an essential quality for life coaches!
It lets your practice taking courageous action
The idea of telling your stories on social media or elsewhere can be intimidating at first, and that’s OK. Fear is a natural part of the process. It’s something many of us feel as we launch a coaching business.
For life coaches, some common fears associated with sharing your story include:
- What if I don’t have anything important to say?
- My story isn’t unique - other people have already said the same thing.
- If I reveal some of my own struggles, will people want to hire me as a coach?
- What if people don’t like the real me?
- What if I embarrass myself?
Identifying what you’re really afraid of is the first step to overcoming it.
Think about the areas where you may be holding back, or feeling intimidated. Ask yourself: What is it that I’m most concerned about?
- Is it the judgment of others?
- Fear of failing?
- Not knowing what people would be interested in hearing?
Once you’ve nailed down what you’re afraid of and why, you can begin to formulate strategies to overcome it.
What’s Stopping You from Sharing?
Fear of judgment
Is publicly talking about your mistakes, challenges, and life lessons difficult? You bet it is! For an insightful take on this topic, watch Brene Brown’s powerful TED Talk, Listening to Shame. In it, she talks about the vulnerability hangover she experienced in the aftermath of her first TED Talk, and the way she handled the judgment and criticism that arose in its aftermath.
Bottom line? Any time you allow yourself to be vulnerable there’s a chance someone will judge you, or not agree with what you have to say. No matter what you do, there is no escaping the judgment of others. So rather than hiding from the possibility of criticism, consider instead the cost of not sharing your wisdom and insights.
What does the world lose when you don’t give voice to your truth?
Not knowing how
Is your business page the place to let it all hang out? That’s a Hard No! But it is a platform to show who you authentically are. It's where you can offer bits of your own backstory, hobbies, values, and beliefs.
If you are hilarious in real life, but reserved and professional on your coaching page… that’s discordant. To really draw in an audience, you’ll need to tap into what makes you distinct, and then show that face to your followers.
Your prospective clients want to know the real you. They need to be able to relate to you. Most of all, they want to see a bit of their own story reflected in yours. To know that you’ve been where they are and understand the challenges they are facing.
This last bit requires vulnerability. It also demands good judgment. You need to be clear about when a “personal share” will best serve the needs and interests of your audience. Know the difference between transparency and TMI in coaching.
For more tips and resources to help you get started, check out:
Fear of failure
Whenever you try anything new, there’s a chance that you might fail. Perhaps spectacularly. It’s this very possibility that prevents some truly talented life coaches from ever taking the risks required to put themselves out there and build a sustainable business.
Now here’s another way of looking at failure.
Do you know how many tries it took Thomas Edison before he succeeded in inventing the light bulb? 1,000. Yes, you read that right. One Thousand Attempts. How does history remember Edison - as a failed inventor? Or as an innovator who literally brought light into formerly dark places?
Look around the room you’re in. How many light bulbs do you see? Don’t know about you, but we’re glad Edison held fast to his dream, and kept after it!
Not everyone aspires to change the course of human history. But who knows where your life coaching practice might lead? Think about the people you will help, and the impact your work will have not only on those clients, but on everyone your clients are connected with.
Remember what we said at the beginning? Your story has the power to change lives. What you do as a coach ripples outward. Create enough ripples and you change the world.
Ready to Become A Coach?
One of our values at Lumia is that we dare to be different. Our life coaches ignore the expectations society tries to impose on them, and seek to live from their own truth instead. If you are ready to step into your power and you’d like a partner in the process, come check out Lumia Life Coach Training. Grounded in science, our ICF accredited program features authentic instructors, a robust curriculum, and business instruction to prepare you for liftoff.