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Effective Networking For Coaches

Feb 29, 2008
When you introduce yourself as a coach at networking events - what do people do? Sign up immediately? Probably not, in fact they may see the introduction as an offer of your services so, could then react defensively and say "I don't need a coach - I am perfectly happy and I am doing fine thank you".

What amuses me about this scenario is that they are exactly the type of people we want to work with and the type of people that would reap amazing benefits from working with us. Most of us want to work with people who are doing 'fine' and are 'happy'. We want to empower them to be inspired and motivated to reach the next rung of the career ladder or explore the next phase in their relationships.

Using networking as a business development tool, how can coaches tap into the market of 'fine and happy' people and educate them so they understand that working with a Coach will only increase their potential for health, wealth and success?

This question has generated many responses from coaches across the world. Responses have ranged from offering a free consultation session so individuals can understand coaching first hand, to holding seminars to explain how coaching can benefit people. Both are successful methods and have generated clients for the coaches that offer them. Now the coaching industry is growing and becoming more competitive, what is the next step? What can coaches do to differentiate themselves from other coaches and at the same time generate clients more effectively?

A coaching partnership requires trust and this is tough to generate in just one meeting - so how can we turn every contact we meet in to a prospective client more quickly?

1Know your target market and be able to explain it in a clear and specific pitch. This might seem obvious but how many of us describe ourselves as a Coach who works with stressed and overwork individuals? Try to narrow this down - men or women, old or young, female entrepreneurs or stay at home dads? The more specific you can get the more likely you are to get a great referral. I recommend you follow this 3 step process:

o What do you do? I am a Career Coach.

o Who do you work with? I work with men, over the age of 25 in the HR industry

o What do you offer? I motivate and empower male HR professionals to develop effective communication skills, be heard they way they want to be heard and ultimately get ahead in a predominantly female industry. (Contact Lou Clark through www.etrecoaching.com to receive a copy of Ętre's Effective Communication Toolkit)

2Develop a clear networking event planner. Find 2-3 events that you can attend regularly so people begin to recognize your face, develop trust and then they will be more likely to introduce you to the colleagues / friends. Begin to be like a blinking light and ensure that you are not out of peoples minds for long. This will be far more effective that attending different events each month. I recommend you check out www.bni.com for details of a local chapter and also www.meetup.com for some great networking events in your area. I also recommend working to become a part of the leadership team of the networking events that you attend. This will automatically add credibility to your name and work.

3At networking events when you first meet a prospect, listen to what they do and tailor your description of what you do so it is relevant to them.

4Develop a strong networking follow up process. The majority of networkers that I speak to collect the cards of people they meet at events but don't do anything with them. Not every person you meet will want to sign up for a coaching program but, they might have a sibling, colleague or friend that is interested. I recommend that you have a clear follow up process for everyone you meet - tailoring the letter / email / phone call to suit the individual and act on this within 24 hours thanking them for taking the time to speak to you yesterday. Remember to ask "who do you know that would be interested in the services that I offer?"

5Keep scheduling one to ones with people you meet. Talk about what you do, success stories and make the tangible benefits relevant to them so they begin to see how coaching might work for them without blasting them with a direct sales pitch.

6Keep reviewing your contacts list on a monthly basis. Have you done everything you can to generate communication with each person. Have you written to them / called them / invited them for a coffee or to another networking event?

7Enjoy the process. Not all of us feel comfortable walking into a room full of strangers but the more you do the easier it will get and the more people you will begin to recognize if you keep attending the same events. However nervous or anxious you feel don't let anyone else see that - smile, walk tall and be passionate about your business. If you are just starting out why not ask a colleague or friend to come with you for moral support for the first few events?

8Remember to take time to re-fuel, re-energize and evaluate the success you are having.

Networking can be such a powerful business development tool and if done effectively will generate clients and referrals.

Happy Networking!
About the Author
Lou Clark is a Life & Career Coach and founder of Ętre Coaching based in New York City. With a successful background in Human Resource Management, formal coach training, accreditation with the International Coach Federation, and as BNI President, Lou is best placed to provide support on networking and its benefit to building a competitive coaching practice. Visit Etre Coaching!
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