Identifying and Reaching Your Coaching Niche

Monthly Challenge for February 2018

As you know, this month’s focus in the CAM Community of Coaches is “identifying and reaching your coaching niche.”

If you want to grow your coaching practice, you need to focus.  You need to focus your time, your energy, and your intention on not only being a great coach, but on helping potential clients get to know you, like you, and trust you enough to hire you.  (In case you didn’t already know it, that the triumvirate goal of all marketing: know + like + trust.)

One of the best ways to focus is to have (and use) a coaching niche.

You niche is the subset of the human population who can most benefit from working with you. While I’m sure you’d be a great coach for anyone on any topic, it’s hard to attract new clients if your message to the world is “I coach anyone on anything.”

For example, notice how much more powerful these coaching markets are when the niche is focused more precisely:

  • “I coach men.” vs. “I coach men who stay home with the kids.”
  • “I coach students.” vs. “I coach college students who are considering grad school.”
  • “I coach pastors.” vs. “I coach pastors who love their staff but hate managing them.”
  • “I coach leaders.” vs. “I coach reluctant leaders who have the leadership title on their business card, but don’t yet have the leadership spirit in their heart.”
  • “I coach married couples.” vs. “I coach married couples who are finally ready to deal with their financial debt.”
  • “I coach young women.” vs. “I coach young women who want their self-image to be as healthy as their social media image.”

Why is having a niche so powerful?  Two reasons:

First, a niche helps qualify potential clients.  A good niche is “binary” in that it sorts every person as either “in” or “out” of the niche, thus helping people self-identify as your ideal coaching client.

Second, a niche helps you know how best to network, market, advertise, etc.  You have a limited amount of time, energy and money for marketing, so you want to invest those resources wisely and in a focused manner.

This month, we are providing some resources, encouragement, and training on how to identify and reach your coaching niche.  So check out this month’s members’ only webinar, our podcast episode on the topic, and our featured blog post this month.

As you check out those resources, keep one thing in mind: becoming a coach who is good at getting clients takes just as much training, trial-and-error, and resolve as learning to coach well.  Asking powerful questions, listening well, creating client awareness, etc. didn’t come easy, but it was worth it – and so is learning how to get clients.

Add New Coaching Models to Your Everyday Repertoire

Monthly Challenge for December 2017

Coaches love models.  No, not runway models or fashion models – coaching models!

Models help coaches help clients.  Coaches tend to use two types of models:

  1. Conversation models. These models help us envision what a coaching conversation looks like so we can partner with the client to make the most of the coaching session.  Conversation models provide structure and map out the flow of the conversation and they provide a good way for the coach and client to be on the same page.
  2. Awareness models. These models are like miniature lessons we share with our clients to help stir new thinking and provide a framework for better understanding their topic or circumstances.  There are dozens, if not hundreds, of possible awareness models. The goal for the coach isn’t to know all of them, but to have a handful of models that are most applicable to the people they coach.

This month, we’re challenging you to add some new coaching models to your practice.  The challenge has two aspects.

  • First, add one of the awareness models I describe below.  Pick one, and see if you can use it in your coaching this month.  Then, report on your progress in our private Facebook group.
  • Second, pick a model that you use that you think others would find helpful. Share the model in our private Facebook group and feel free to describe how you use it.

Here are three models to consider (remember, pick one, use it, and report on your experience in the private Facebook group):

The Value-Desire Model

Not everything we desire is all that valuable.  One of our Western Seminary coaching students created a model (and an eBook!) that helps distinguish whether an activity is something we desire, something we value, neither, or both.  Check out the short eBook for more.

The Thomas-Killman Conflict Model

There are five distinct ways of handling conflict based on how assertive and how cooperative we are for the issue.  This model for understanding conflict can help you use the conflict mode that’s most appropriate for a given situation.  For an overview, visit their website.

Ikigai

This is a model based on a Japanese concept for finding meaning in life.  It’s helpful for those who are considering a career shift or the interplay of work, mission, and other interests.

Improve Your Ability to Create Accountability in Your Client

Monthly Challenge for November 2017

This month we are challenging our members to do an even better job when it comes to accountability.

Accountability is all about follow through.  Some coaches get confused because they think it’s about follow up.  Some believe it’s the coach’s responsibility to follow up and that’s the extent of accountability.  But that’s wrong, wrong, wrong.

Accountability is about helping the client establish ways to ensure he or she carries out plans, takes actions, and holds on to new awareness.  In other words, we want to make sure that what happened inside the coaching session actually makes a difference outside the coaching session.  Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • You don’t have to use the word “accountability,” but you need to address it in some way in every coaching conversation.
  • Accountability does not have to include another person (“Who?”); it can also involve structures, reminders, wagers, celebrations, rewards, etc.
  • When accountability does involve a person, that person can be the coach, but it doesn’t have to be the coach.
  • It’s perfectly fine (even expected) that the coach will follow up and ask the client about the actions they said they’d take. I hear some coaches say that it’s up to the client to bring up last session’s actions, but that’s not what the ICF description of this core competency conveys (click here and notice the second bullet under the 11th competency).

So here’s the challenge: this month, evaluate your coaching based not on actions, but on strong accountability.  Some questions you can ask yourself are:

  • Did I ask the client what he or she needed in terms of accountability?
  • To what extent did my clients take the action(s) they said they’d take as a result of our coaching?
  • How well did I coach my clients to establish accountability that fit their specific needs?