I’ll never forget my first networking event as a newly graduated coach. I was going to an International Coach Federation Chapter meeting in Edmonton and felt so excited.
I was greeted by a friendly woman who put me at ease and introduced me to a group of women sitting together at one of the tables. It was fun chatting and meeting so many new people.
Then the Chapter President stood up to start the formal meeting and invited us to introduce ourselves. She asked us to describe the clients we coached and what we helped them do. I remember thinking, “Doesn’t coaching help everyone? “ Then my mind went completely blank.
Suddenly, my years of public speaking, chairing large meetings, facilitating and training countless groups meant nothing. As my turn to speak got closer, my throat was so tight, I could hardly swallow, my hands started shaking, and my mouth was as dry as the Mohave Desert. I felt so queasy, I thought I had the flu.
My ears seemed to be malfunctioning too, because all I could hear was my heart pounding. When it was my turn, I mumbled something about women and life transitions—really, what I said made no sense to me or anybody else. Then, mercifully, someone else started speaking, but the feeling of humiliation lingered!
Until that moment, I had the misguided belief that I could help anyone. That hoards of clients would flock to me because coaching is such a powerful force for change. I needed to learn that until I was clear about who my clients were, they had no way of recognizing themselves. Until I could explain how I helped them, they had no reason to seek me out.
So I did everything I could to figure it out. Bought books, joined programs, hired coaches, and finally learned what to say. It may seem simple, but sometimes the simplest things are the hardest to do…..
Now here’s how to help them to find you.
Step One is to get clear about who your ideal clients are. Start by answering these three questions.
What are their demographics?
These are specific social traits that you can clearly see.
For example, I am a woman in my 60s (yikes, how did that happen?), live in Vancouver, am a small business owner, mother and grandmother, married, member of LBGT community, spiritual seeker, you get the idea.
What are their psychographics?
This refers to your ideal clients’ values, the beliefs they hold, and where their passions lie.
So, what matters most to them? What do they talk about? How do they contribute to society? Who do they hang out with? What do they like to do?
For example, my clients tend to care deeply about helping others. They’re committed to something bigger than themselves, want to create work and a way of living that reflects their values, and rewards them financially too. (I just have to say they also have a tremendous sense of fun!)
What is their biggest problem?
I know this can feel tricky when you believe that you have plenty of solutions for all kinds of problems. I can hear you wondering why you’d limit yourself. It comes down to simplicity.
For example, I could say that I help women who own small businesses become successful. But that’s still too fuzzy. It’s much clearer to mention that I help women who run small businesses get more clients. That’s a real doorway for people to step through.
Our clients want help, to be witnessed and understood. Make it clear that you’re the one who’s there for them and you’ll find it so much easier to talk about what you do.