Building a Strong Coaching Practice
By Mary Gardner
As a person who has been around the coaching profession for a number of years, I wish I could say that my practice is full right now. But the fact is, I’ve been pursuing TV gigs in the last few years and haven’t put much emphasis on building my individual coaching practice. I’ve also been blessed to receive several corporate coaching and training jobs, so the individual coaching has taken a back seat.
But I’ve recently moved to a new state, and have had a chance to evaluate what I want my schedule to be in the coming months. I’m currently working from home so I can be available for my son because he is in school for the first time, and I feel I need to be around. I’ve decided to add to my individual coaching once again so I’m making my plans. Since I’ve done this before, I have a plan. I did it in NJ, NYC, and NC, and now I’ll be doing it in FL. I’m also pursuing corporate coaching and training opportunities. For these, I use professionally designed promotional materials and videos of me speaking and leading workshops.
For my individual practice, I have a website which has attracted people nationally. In addition, I’ve done speaking in different parts of the country which has brought in clients. This past year I did a few national TV tours and secured a few clients from there. In years past, I’ve been highlighted in the newspaper or magazines, and that always brought interest; but to be honest, mostly from curiosity seekers who wanted to be coaches! I’ve gotten several clients that were referrals from other clients. But most of my individual coaching clients have come from my doing workshops.
What workshops can a coach provide? We’ve all heard about branding and finding a niche. That is true to a certain extent, but I started from what I already knew. I started where I felt I was already an expert. I was an expert in selling. I decided to teach that, and from that sprang many other courses such as communication, customer service, telephone skills, time management, creativity workshops, team building and so on. Once you deliver a few workshops that you build from scratch, you’ll be getting the experience you need to accumulate information for articles, books, workbooks, tapes and other products.
What are you an expert in? Where do your talents lie? Have you trained people in getting in shape? Have you taught people better vocabulary skills? Were you a computer trainer? Start wherever you are, get training, free clients, and the word will spread. Start giving workshops at local community colleges, learning centers, at your church, or even out of your home. Tape your workshops so you can add the wisdom that comes from the room to your presentation. Advertise ahead of time at least 3 workshops that will be presented. Give out free information at each seminar in exchange for business cards, and when you get home, develop an email list where you can send a newsletter discussing your business.
As for me, I’m now in the process of building more workshops to my repertoire. I’ll write several new programs this year, start marketing them locally, and eventually nationally. Now that I’ve discovered I enjoy writing creatively, I’ve started and am writing articles for different ezine newsletters.
Building a coaching practice takes time. It’s a process that takes a few months or even a few years, but worth it. The lifestyle of knowing I can pick up my son nearly every day at 2:30 and get to work out almost every day while still adding value to my clients every week has its advantages. There’s a lot of work up front, but the personal and professional rewards are enormous.
Mary Gardner Copyright 2005
Mary Gardner is one of the dynamic young forces behind the exciting new avenue of career development known as “personal coaching.” As founder of one of the first in-person coach training companies, Mary has helped numerous business executives, entrepreneurs, celebrities, attorneys, and other professionals achieve the success they need in both their personal and professional lives. Her niche is working with sales teams to achieve greater success, individuals who want to work on their presentation skills, personal power and charisma and developing name recognition in specific industries or the media. Learn more about Mary by visiting her website at http://www.marygardner.com.