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5 Tips for Finding Your First Executive Coaching Clients

September 01, 2022 by Amanda Reill

Translating your passion for executive coaching to paying clients is an undertaking of bravery and personal growth. Even the most confident new coaches have an inner critic questioning if they’ll ever get their business off the ground. Rather than seeing the task as daunting, consider a positive, anticipatory mindset about the road ahead. Look forward to what you’ll learn through both your successes and your setbacks.

Tip #1: Develop your personal coaching brand.

5 Tips for Finding Your First Executive Coaching Clients

How would you describe yourself as a coach? What sets you apart from other coaches? Who is your ideal client? These are all foundational questions that will have a great impact on your marketing strategy.

Once you’ve narrowed down your target audience, consider what their greatest needs and concerns are and how you plan to address those needs through your coaching practice. Pore through other coaches’ websites, social media accounts, and marketing materials to see what resonates with you. Which ones caught your attention, and why? What strategies are they using that are effective, or not so effective? Remember, you don’t want to copy what other coaches are doing, but simply draw inspiration from them. Their clients are not your clients.

If you use writing as a self-reflection tool, start a first draft of your future website’s homepage and About Me page. The key words here are “first draft” — you have to start somewhere! Don’t think about other people seeing this right at first; your initial audience is you. Who is the version of yourself you’re most proud of? What is your future coach self like?

Tip #2: Build a strategy that works for you.

There is a flood of information about which digital strategy tools work best. Is it an email newsletter, videos, or joining social network groups? What works best for some may not work best for you, and as you evaluate all of your options for marketing yourself, it’s important to do some soul searching. Just because another coach has found great success making entertaining videos for TikTok does not mean that will work for every skill set and personality type.

Consider what initially feels most in reach and aim to push yourself slightly beyond that. If you need tools that you don’t have (like if you’re interested in doing videos but have never edited a video in your life), get resourceful! You may be able to barter your coaching services with someone who can help you get the tech side of things set up. 

If you enjoy writing, think about which form of writing feels most natural to you, and start there. Blog posts, social media posts, and email newsletters are great places to start. 

Remember that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time you produce content for your audience. Much of reaching your potential clients has to do with re-packaging content and catching their attention. If a popular book has come out about leadership or productivity, try to catch on the buzz bandwagon and pique their interest through your platform of choice.

Developing a business plan can help you chart your course. You don’t have to launch everything in one day! Marketing yourself can be exhausting, so try to keep your passion connected to what you’re doing by pacing yourself. Set dates for when you want to have your logo completed, when you want your website to be live, when you’ll set up social media accounts, and the cadence you’ll be writing or filming. You don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket, but you also don’t want to start throwing your eggs in all sorts of directions. Seek to develop something sustainable.

Tip #3: Find yourself where the people are.

Where do your potential clients hang out? Are you trying to build a locally-based business or reach people worldwide? Find networking events, join Facebook groups, or even start your own. Younger executives may very well be on Tiktok, whereas older executives might be on LinkedIn, or Facebook. Going to where your clients are is just as important as doing what works best for you. Remember, you don’t want to be shouting into the void that is Twitter, if your ideal client is spending a majority of their time on TikTok, consuming content there. Show up where they are!

Figure out what you can start offering people for free, whether it’s introductory coaching sessions, workshops, or resources. In doing so, you’re building relationships with your future client base. The nature of coaching is ongoing accountability. That’s what you’re selling. Whatever you’re giving away should be fuel for what is already going on in your audience’s mind.

Wherever you are, be there consistently. A service like coaching is one that people often think about for weeks, months, or even years before they’re officially ready to hire a coach. When they decide they’re ready, you should be the first person to come to their minds! 

Tip #4: Get ready to pivot.

There’s a concept in business called “failing fast” and it’s one way to combat the fear of failure. Whatever strategy you lay out in your business plan does not have to be hard and fast. Maybe you even write the assumption of failures into your business plan! We’re much less likely to get discouraged when we’re not surprised that things don’t take off on our first attempt.

Instead, what if you had a positive view of these failings? What if you expressed gratitude for every “no” you received, because it meant you were that much closer to obtaining the clients who were right for you?

Lean into incremental progress, and as you implement your business plan, devise new goals every month, week, or even day, depending on how quickly you’re seeking to launch your business. Keep the constant question in mind, what’s the smallest thing I could do to grow my business today?

Tip #5: Ask the question.

This tip is the “scariest” of them all. Creating a concrete call to action or directly asking someone if they’re interested in scheduling a sample coaching call is not entirely comfortable for most people. If this fear comes to mind, remember the immense value that coaching can provide — that you can provide. If you’re confident that this client is the right one for you, there’s nothing to lose in opening up a conversation.

In the online realm, make sure that you’ve made it easy for a person to “convert” from a reader or viewer to taking the next step with you. The path of least resistance is most important in these cases. Make it as easy as possible for potential clients to become your clients. The less clicks and time it takes, the more readily people ‘convert’ from potential, to actual.

Think about how much stronger your coaching abilities will be when you have to do something difficult or brave! Regardless of how long it takes you to secure those first paying clients, continue to hone your coaching skills in every way possible. These skills need to be used consistently to be as powerful as they can be. 

Maintaining a hopeful mindset that assumes that your potential clients are out there longing to hear from you, whether or not they know it yet, is going to motivate you to keep moving forward and pivot where necessary. Becoming an executive coach is a journey, and though there are important markers along the way (like your first paying clients!), the journey never ends!

For more information on the CTEDU Executive Coaching Program or the Life Coaching Certification process.

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