The following is taken from David’s interview with Mike Turner in 10 Super Coaches.
What method did you find most effective in getting your initial clients?
Getting work through my existing network.
Initially, I took every opportunity to try and sell my coaching services whenever the opportunity presented itself. After I had been doing this for a couple of years, I reviewed where the work I was doing had come from. What I found, to my surprise, was that none of it had come directly from the people to whom I had been trying to sell it – instead it had all come from unexpected directions.
But what I also realized was that it was important that I was putting myself about rather than just sitting around at home waiting for work to show up. The principle here seems to be that, if I put out my energy for coaching into the world (by talking about what I do, by writing about it, and by taking any opportunity to demonstrate coaching), this energy comes back in the form of work – but by a circuitous and indirect route.
And when I realized this, I stopped trying so hard to sell coaching to the people I met and instead focused more on promoting coaching – which in turn makes the energy flow more easily.
The following is taken from David’s interview with Anna Dargitz in 10 Super Coaches.
What top three methods, in order, did you use to get your clients in the first 2 years?
Your question implies that I had lots of clients my first 2 years. I did not. I had about 5-6 per month generally, though they stayed with me for years.
My top method, at first, was asking friends and family because I didn’t have a ready-made network and position at my disposal. It wasn’t pretty. I felt needy and desperate with an overlay of optimism. And of course, it was all quite unconscious. What I was aware of was that I was a new coach in a new coaching industry. I had to do a lot of educating.
My second method was to attend networking events, especially Chamber of Commerce. This too felt dry. I was a fish out of water. I did my best to live up to some measure of success defined as “number of paying clients” and felt miserable about my lack of success.
My third method was asking for referrals, handing out brochures and business cards, public speaking and building a website on a shoe string budget, all with little success. Everything I read, everything I was told indicated that this was how it was done. I thought, “there must be something wrong with me”.
What were the biggest doubts you had in your early months?
Doubt and fear are my physical reactions to change. They don’t depict reality. But I get pulled in hook, line and sinker every time I make a big change. And creating a new career is one big change. My biggest doubt was that I would find a position of visibility. We doubt what we can’t control.
I was aware that preparation plus opportunity equals position. I had preparation mastered, but opportunity was up to the Universe. My worrying about it only got in my way.
I overcame the worry by surrendering to what was. I accepted my situation and recognized…right now I am preparing to give to the Universe my coaching…right now I’m working hard and not making much money…right now I’m playing a smaller game. I didn’t like it. But that was the truth of my situation. And in my heart, I believed, without a doubt and without the need for evidence that… as I was preparing something big for the Universe, the Universe was preparing something big for me.
The following is taken from David’s interview with Michael O. Cooper in 10 Super Coaches.
Would you advise coaches to pursue certification? If so, at what stage in their practice, and through which accrediting body?
I believe the industry is evolving and coaching clients are becoming more savvy. There will come a time when clients require their coaches to be certified.
Coaches should continually strive to improve their coaching, but become certified as early as possible – certification processes will improve every coach’s quality of coaching. I view the certification process as a learning path in itself. That’s why we developed the International Association of Coaches’ certification process in three steps to provide clear, compelling feedback on which proficiencies coaches need to improve before moving on to the next steps.
I believe the IAC model, which allows any coach to apply for certification regardless of how many hours they have coached, or how many classes they have attended, is the best model to demonstrate competency, particularly because this certification is based on the 15 Coaching Proficiencies, rather than general knowledge.
The following is taken from David’s interview with Marcia Reynolds in 10 Super Coaches.
How would you suggest coaches find their niche?
Look at ALL your past experiences in industries, professions and fields, including volunteer work, to identify areas you know. Then look for topics that would interest clients in these areas that you are passionate about. To become an expert in an area, you have to be passionate about it. Do not go with something just because you think people need it. You have to have a strong desire to research, learn and develop yourself in order to create and maintain your expertise status.
The following is taken from David’s interview with Ginger Cockerham in 10 Super Coaches.
What was most disheartening for you while building your practice?
Why give up a lucrative business before I am sure I can be a successful coach? Giving up a business that was successful but stressful and transitioning to coaching full time was a HUGE decision for me. If felt like jumping off a cliff and hoping the parachute would open. It was necessary to make that choice to have the time and commitment to coaching – but it was very scary.
One morning I got up and spent the entire day coaching – doing what I loved and being on my life mission and I realized that it was worth stepping through the fear. In addition, I have had fabulous senior mentor coaches in the 8 ½ years I have been coaching. It was with the support and encouragement of a coach who was ahead of me on the journey that gave me that courage – I was not stepping out alone.
The second block was the plateauing. In the first two years, I built my client base to 10 or 12 clients consistently but I could not get past that number. It was then I read the anonymous quote – “If you can do it yourself, it’s not a big enough dream” – so I started building and increasing my network so that referrals come regularly from clients, from networking groups, for alliances, from other coaches, etc.