How To Network Effectively As a Life Coach
Here's how to network and build strong relationships with colleagues, peers and potential life coaching clients, whether you connect face to face, or rely on social media and online like-minded groups .
Choosing Where To Network
If you are not used to building business relationships, networking can be challenging. However, when you understand how to network, it can have a profoundly positive effect on your business.
The standout first step that will help you gain most confidence, is resolving which network will be the best for you and support you to grow your life coaching business. Different organisations have
different benefits and focus,
so when you start deciding how to network effectively, you need to get clear what you
want each to deliver for you.
Here's the steps to take to get you going.
1. Research your potential social networking groups
I suggest you trial a networking group with three visits before you join. This gives you an opportunity to see if you like the environment and if the members are in the sphere of your ideal clients.
Many generic business networking organisations, (i.e. they don’t arise out of a
particular profession or interest group) are overstuffed with
consultants and life and business coaches all looking for clients so choose wisely! Tough crowd!
I’ve had the experience where every other person I speak to, or
is at my table, is in the coaching profession. So whilst
you may enjoy the conversation, the client opportunities are limited.
2. Ask yourself "where will I find my coaching clients?'
I'd suggest that you look for associations to join that cater for your particular coaching focus or niche. For instance, if you have financial background, you may find
clients if you network in an association or environment that caters for
accountants or bankers.
You won’t have so much competition and can
easily establish a rapport with potential clients because you know the industry.
The Benefits Of Face To Face Networking
When you network in person rather than online you actually get to meet the people who can help and encourage you as well as connecting with potential clients.
Over drinks or a meal you have opportunities to create strategic alliances with other professionals. You can read more about the benefits of creating successful alliances here.
Rather than spending all your time on the computer connecting and friending, you get to enjoy a real, convivial, face-to-face get together. You will experience some great conversations and more often than not listen to an interesting presentation as part of the event.
Networking in person also gets you out of the office for a break (especially if it is a home office). And with practice, and by using the networking tips and tricks on this page, you will develop your own personal networking power.
When you attend a networking function you need to have what is known as an "elevator speech" - a fast and congruent way of letting people know what you do.
You can learn how a great elevator speech can be a magical marketing tool and how to go about creating one for your coaching services.
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How To Network Face To Face
The Do's and Don'ts
I've prepared this list of powerful how to network network tips for both face to face and social media networking. It will be just as useful for seasoned networkers as those looking for tips on networking for beginners.
I learnt many of these business networking tips personally from my friend and networking mentor Robyn Henderson, who is featured in the book The World's Worst Networker..
Have a look at the book (below). Learning what NOT to do is an absolute gem and makes this great reading. Other tips in the following list come from my own experiences and observations over many years of face networking as a life coach.
10 Vital Do's For Effective Networking
- Invest in some business cards: Or something like a postcard or bookmark that identifies who you are and what type of coaching you offer. Make your business card networking friendly by ensuring there is space and a suitable writing surface for notes.
Check these networking friendly business card ideas.
- Follow-up and keep in contact: Follow up on any conversations with a card or email. Mention something you remember about them and/or their challenges (from what you have written on the back of their card) or about the event or the speaker.
There is no need to try and sell. Just say something like "I really enjoyed our conversation."
- Learn to be a host: Take it on yourself to introduce people you know to each other. If you have a really shy colleague, offer to take him or her along, hold their hand, and introduce them to people.
- Establish rapport: When you meet somebody new, try to find something to genuinely compliment them on (such as a great tie or scarf), or share something that you have in common.
- Listen more than you talk.
- Be brief and concise: Practice describing what you do concisely in just a couple of sentences. Emphasise the benefits your coaching offers, rather than the fact you are a coach. Lean how to craft an effective "Elevator Speech".
- Dress appropriately for the occasion: Some networking functions are very formal and others you can get away with jeans. If in doubt, check with the host.
- If networking scares you: find a networking “buddy” to attend events with but don't stick with them the whole time! Make sure you both circulate.
- Give without expectation: It is a real buzz to be able to help someone find what they need or want, even if it has nothing to do with coaching – and sooner or later “what goes around, comes around”.
- Acknowledge graciously: If you enjoyed the event and/or the presentation, send a short note of appreciation to the host and/or the presenter. It will be valued and help establish a relationship with a person of influence.
Ten Vital Tips To Avoid Networking Stuff-ups
Some of the best business networking tips and tricks are what NOT to do if you want to make good connections with people so they will want to talk to you again and not flee when you appear. So don't...
- Be a spider networker: That is, pounce on people and tie them up in a web of conversation that is all about you and what you do, rather than being interested in who they are and what they do.
- Get stuck with one person: Learn to handle networking spiders and elegantly get out of conversation with someone who wants to stick with you. Saying there is someone across the room you just have to speak to or you have to go the the bathroom are possible strategies.
- Only talk with people you know: Whilst it is great to catch up with your friends for a quick chat – the idea is to meet new people and establish new relationships.
- Immediately provide too much detail about what your services: Unless someone indicates a real interest, you will bore them silly and they will want to escape. Keep what you do brief and concise and express it in a way that invites questions.
If you are not sure how to do this Cindy Schulson's Marketing From Within site has lots of free tools to help you.
- Make absolute judgments about people from first impressions:
How a person is dressed, the way they speak and so on can often lead to a lot of misplaced assumptions that they are not worth talking to. Jump to conclusions and you could miss out on a valuable connection.
- Spread yourself too thinly: Better to attend a couple of networks regularly and become known and trusted, than be an occasional face at many. It's about creating relationships.
- Hold aside conversations during the presentation: Apart from being rude to the speaker, it’s distracting for others and won’t earn you any brownie points with possible contacts in the audience.
- Book but not attend without letting your host know: This can be really annoying for the host for catering purposes, especially if there is a waiting list to attend. Yes I know you've paid but that's not the point!
If there was absolutely no way you could let your host know because of a last minute emergency, send a short note of apology or ring at your earliest opportunity.
- No follow up: Promise somebody you meet that you will follow up on a contact or referral and then not do it. Try to do all your follows up on the same day as the meeting or at least within 48 hours.
- Complain diplomatically: Don't loudly carry on about not liking the food, the speaker, the venue, parking etc. If there is anything that does not meet your expectations complain quietly to the host or, better still, send an email after the event acknowledging was was good but expressing your concerns. Once again, you are building long term relationships, not trying to prove a point.
Effective Social Media Networking For Life Coaches
The world is your networking oyster when you go online for social media networking.
Online or virtual business networking, such as blogging, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and the like means that networking regionally and globally is well within the reach of anyone. And you don't have to dress up or arm yourself with business cards to do it!
And if you need to have a face to face conversation with a contact or prospect you have made half-way across the world, there is always Skype or Zoom.
You can join various groups with a shared life coaching interest to initiate discussions and make comments,
One group I would highly recommend you check out is Coaches Helping Coaches which was founded by Emma Louise Elsey. It's strictly moderated to keep the main wall clear for discussions and questions about coaching and comments and answers rather than promotions.
Seven Vital Online Business Networking Tips
Of course on of the most important aspects of online networking is knowing how to get the word out there and attract some clients. In other words - marketing.
My colleague Cindy Schulson of Marketing From Within recently presented a brilliant webinar “3 Ways To Get Clients Online” for the Coaching Tools Company. It’s beautifully presented with no hype or hard selling and lots and lots of great advice. Have a listen, you won’t regret it.
Good social networking manners are very important if you are to engage people so they want to connect with you. Here are some of my favourites as well as some pitfalls to avoid.
- Make it personal: When inviting someone to join a network such as LinkedIn or “be your friend” don’t just use the formatted message. Try and give a reason why you want to connect and make it sound sincere.
- When inviting, tell them how you are connected:. When asking someone to connect, remind them where you have met or what your mutual connection is. I have met so many people over the years, that I often need reminding who’s who or where I met them.
- Where do you know me from? If you can’t recall where you have met the person inviting you, send a message asking where you met, or how you are connected etc. This will weed out the social business network spammers who just want to build their list.
- Don’t just promote yourself: Avoid just using the network to make announcements or promote you coaching or products. This will just annoy people and may not get you the results you want.
Join in the discussions with opinion and information and start your own discussions. As people in the forum groups get to know you, what you do and what you have to say, they are far more likely to respond to any announcements you have to make regarding your coaching and pay a visit to your website.
- Make your discussions engaging: When starting a discussion, write a little more than just the heading. Engage your reader in a conversation and maybe ask for feedback or comment.
- Add links to your website: With any comment you make, where it is appropriate (and possible) include a link to the relevant page on your own website or blog that could add more value. This way people will get to see more of who you are and what you do.
- Be NICE! Have opinions in your comments, but be nice about it. Whilst it's OK to have a "robust" conversations one-on-one, putting caustic or personal comments out into cyberspace is a whole different ball game that can get you into trouble or even banned from a group with a sensitive moderator. And it certainly won't win you any clients.
In conclusion, however you choose to do networking should be an enjoyable experience as well as a great marketing strategy that adds to your profile and attracts clients.
And to help you do that I hope you have found this article on how to network useful. Here are some more marketing ideas for life coaches.