I know there are a gazillion coaches out there. We're told the market is over saturated, which I find both depressing and infuriating. Depressing because that's such a negative view, and infuriating because it's just not true.
Yes, there are a more coaches out there than there were 5 years ago.
And yes, this means that what worked for life coaches 5 years ago to get clients probably won’t work in the same way now.
It also means that people’s awareness of coaching continues to increase. It’s becoming more and more common place for people from all walks of life to have a coach. Coaching has become legitimate in a way it just wasn't 5 years ago.
But yes, it also means it can be more difficult to stand out in the market place.
You need an angle: Something that differentiates you.
And that angle is you.
Because coaching is all about the relationship and relationships are about people. You - are a person.
And that’s where we start to build your business.
Expressing your unique experiences, attitudes, beliefs, knowledge, sense of humor, and skills. That combination exists nowhere else the world apart from with you.
“Each of us is standing in a spot that no one else occupies. That unique point of view is born of our accumulated experience, perspective, and vision. Some of those experiences are not as “perfect” as we might want, but even those experiences are a source for what you create.”
Nilofer Merchant, TEDX Houston, 2012:
Here’s a simple exercise to get you started:
Choose 4/5 of your past clients, best friends and confidants. People who see the best in you
(this isn't an exercise in gathering criticism - most of us are more than well versed in our weaker points.)
Contact them and ask them the following questions:
- What 5 words sum me up?
- What are my biggest strengths?
- What are my quirks and interesting bits?
- If you were describing me to someone who'd never met me, what would you say?
Once you have your responses, review your offers, website, business cards etc. Are those things coming across? What about when you meet people face to face in a professional or networking setting?
If not, ask yourself how can you express those things more in your public persona?
For most of us this is an ongoing process of becoming comfortable revealing who we really are, layer by layer, over time. So be kind and don't judge yourself too harshly if you're not there yet.
For example, for a long time, what I was putting out into the public realm was pretty sober and businesslike.
I wanted to express how seriously I took my work so I listed my qualifications and experience on my website and brochures. There were even pictures of me wearing a smart business suit.
But that did nothing to make me stand out from the crowd. It didn't show people who I truly was . (Believe me, I was never the person who loved wearing the business suit!)
One of my dear coaching friends told me that I was a goof ball.
I have to admit I was a bit taken aback! It was what I needed to hear but she was right - I AM a goofball - I love being creative and playful when I work. I use a lot of humor too and I want to make the coaching experience fun.
Yes none of that playful goofiness was reflected in my messaging.
When I started to let some of that playfulness shine through everything shifted. From creating content, to connecting with the right people, I was in the ‘flow’ and having a lot more fun in the process. An added bonus was that right people started resonating with me MUCH more. Finding the right clients became so much easier too. And more clients meant my income increased - and it all started to feel...
so. much. easier.
Some people were put off but that's fine because I'm not the right coach for them.
There really is room for everyone. No one has the monopoly on being a great coach. Coaching is like alchemy - when the right two elements are combined, something magical happens.
But if you're not showing who you really are, then attracting that perfect combination to you is impossible.
Put yourself - your true self, out into the world and see what happens. Yes it feels scary and yes, you risk some people rejecting you. But to truly connect with the right people you need to show who you are.
Be brave. Come back and share what you discovered about yourself in the comments below.