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Wendy Buckingham / Creator, Life Coaching Professionally
A strategic alliance is basically a relationship developed between two businesses or practitioners who's services compliment each other. The relationship for life coaches is usually based on complimentary skills, joint marketing of services, events or products.
As a solo life coach, the relationship is most often set up between you and a complimentary practitioner to your coaching, who refer to each other.
There may be no actual money involved though some may decide on a referral fee. It's really up to the parties to decide.
The questions to ask yourself is "Who has my possible coaching client?"
In other words, who is likely to have clients who may need what you offer as a life coach.
This could be your local GP, a psychologist, a fitness instructor, a nutritionist and so on. There will be plenty of related fields depending on your coaching niche or specialty. For example if you were a coach specialising in grief coaching, funeral parlours could be an excellent strategic alliance.
And in turn, you may have a client that you want to refer to a psychologist or related specialist. Simple examples are referring someone who you feel needs therapy rather than coaching, or a bookkeeper for a small business client who needs some help with that side of their business.
Another way to find people where there can be a mutual benefit is through networking, either in person where you get to chat and create relationships or through social media.
As with any kind of business partnership there are traps to avoid and tips to make sure the strategic alliance is a profitable success, rather than a regretted failure. I cover these in the next section.
These tips will help you achieve successful alliance relationships and highlight some of the reasons why they sometimes fail.
When someone approaches with an offer of a strategic alliance it’s because they find you and your coaching practice attractive and see benefits in hooking up with you.
And that’s great for the ego. But you need to make sure that they are really as attractive to you, and offer something of equal benefit to flow your way.
Have an initial meeting to get clear on what both of you hope to achieve from the alliance and and how it will work. Set some firm goals and outcomes for what the partnership is to achieve.
In that meeting also have no holds barred (but polite) conversation where you not only discuss all the benefits you see in working together but lay on the table all the fears you have about what could possibly not work or go wrong.
Getting all this out in the open right at the start and having the necessary conversations to clear up any misconceptions or misunderstandings is essential to save future disagreements and disappointments. It also helps you to get to know the other party really well!
Ask questions of colleagues or friends who have worked with this person or company. Here are some of the things you might want to check out.
A good alliance strategy is to have regular catch-ups, either face to face or online, to discuss how it is going, ask questions and handle any problems, considerations and possible misunderstandings, however seemingly trivial.
In other words, keep the space between you clean and don’t let uncertainties fester into upsets that could blow the relationship apart.
Not all strategic alliances that you set up as a life coach will work. For instance you may find you are sending a lot of business their way but nothing is coming your way.
A trial period allows both parties to enter into it more confidently knowing that the agreements are not set in stone.
If you are forming an alliance where money in exchange for referrals or some other tangible exchange is involved, have written signed agreement to prevent any misunderstandings.
If the intended partner questions the need for this, tell them it is for the benefit of your both so there are no misunderstandings.
After each meeting or conversation with your strategic partner, write an email confirming what was discussed and any decisions made. This will make sure you are both still on the same page.
If there are delays in their response, excuses or justifications when you are setting up be wary. It could be a taste of how the relationship will be so far as communication is concerned..
My book, Be Your Own Goals Coach (click on the link to get a taster of the content) is a particularly useful handbook for you to use to set goals, whether for yourself or with your strategic partner.
One section deals with failed goals which may help you get positive about the relationship again if you have had a bad experience with a previous alliance. Another guides you with the challenges and pitfalls of goal setting for a partnership such as one you may form with another professional.
In conclusion, strategic alliances are just one way of attracting more clients. You can read lots of other simple and creative ideas for marketing your coaching practice here.