Getting your first coaching client can be easier than you think

Pretty much the first question any coach has fresh out of coach training is: How do I get my first coaching clients?

Your first paying coaching clients can seem like the holy grail. It’s what will actually legitimize yourself as a coach.

Even though you’ve likely had some pro-bono clients, your ultimate goal is to get paid for what you do.

But how you get your first coaching clients might surprise you.

Common misconceptions about getting your first coaching clients

Most coaches (mistakenly) believe that in order to get their first clients:

  • That you have to have a large Instagram following. In fact, you can book out your business without using social media at all.
  • That you have to be sharing copious amounts of content. While content is great, it’s more important when you’re in the growth stage of your business, not necessarily the start-up stage.
  • That you have to invest in Facebook ads to build your list just to get clients. In actuality, ads aren’t usually that effective at this stage in business simply because you haven’t yet validated your offer or your messaging.

It’s not that the above marketing strategies don’t work. They do; however, they are more effective strategies for when you’re further along in your business.

The way you get your first coaching clients is usually much simpler than this.

The easiest way to get your first coaching clients

Over the past several years as a holistic business coach, I’ve supported coaches to start their businesses and get their first clients. 

Guess where most coaches’ FIRST clients came from? Their first coaching clients came from … their own network!

That’s right! More often than not, your first coaching clients will come from your existing network, because they are already people who know, like and trust you.

That doesn’t mean that your first coaching clients are necessarily your friends and family, but it does mean that your extended network – and friends of friends – are often the low-hanging fruit in terms of finding clients.

Why your first coaching clients are likely to be within your network

The Know-Like-Trust factor is key in signing clients. Complete strangers who meet you on the internet will often need some time to get to know you before they buy. These people are called “cold leads” in sales terms and will need some “warming up” to get ready to buy.

In the meantime, your own network is a huge opportunity for referrals. By existing network, I don’t mean your sister or your best friend. I’m referring to those secondary connections, like acquaintances, friends of friends, or former colleagues. 

The people who know of you or who are recommended to you are warm leads, i.e., the low-hanging fruit in terms of new clients!

The way you get those referrals requires taking some strategic actions, which I detail below.

How I got my first coaching clients

I got my first few coaching clients from one single Facebook post shared on my personal profile. 

I shared that I had left my job to start my coaching and consulting business. I explained what my business was about, who I wanted to help, and the type of things I could help with. I also asked that people keep me in mind if they heard of anyone needing similar services to what I offered.

This is how I got my first 3 coaching clients. 

  • The first client was a Facebook friend I had made through a running program. 
  • The second client was a coach I knew who was looking for marketing support. 
  • The third client was a former coworker from two jobs ago with whom I had lost touch.

Here’s what they all had in common: They had no idea I had started a business or that I could help them until I shared that post!

This is why it’s so important to tell people what you do, who you work with, and ask for referrals.

How to get your first coaching clients from your existing network

Here are a few ways to tap into your existing network to find your first coaching clients.

  1. Send a personal email to each person in your network. Not a group email with everyone bcc, but a personal email to each specific person. Even if you haven’t spoken to them in a while, give them some context about what you’re up to, share a little about your business and who you work with, and make a clear ask.
  2. On social media platforms where you’ve personally been active, use your personal profile (not your business page or account) to informally share with your network that you’ve started a business. Tell them about who you serve and that you’re open for clients.
  3. If you’re a part of any organizations, communities, or clubs related OR unrelated to your business, don’t be afraid to share with them what you’re up to now and that you’re looking for clients. Consider local groups like coworking facilities or your local chamber.

Script for getting your first clients:

So what do you say or post? In general, you want to include:

  • What you do and for whom
  • That you’re taking clients 
  • Ask for the referral

Here’s an example:

“As you may know, I recently started a coaching business after getting my professional coaching certification. I’m now a career coach for new mothers returning to the workforce. I’m thrilled to combine my background in HR with my coaching certification to be able to support women in their job search efforts to find the right opportunity for them. Currently, I have spaces open for new clients! I’d love your support by keeping me in mind as you come across any women searching for a job. Feel free to pass my information along! [link to website].”

Here are some ways to ask for the referral:

  • “If you know of anyone who could benefit from working with me, would you please share my information?”
  • “Would you please pass this along to anyone you come across who may need my services?”
  • “I’d greatly appreciate it if you could keep me in mind for anyone who might need this type of support.”
find your first coaching clients

Leveraging your existing network is a great way to get your first coaching clients

Many people are happy to help support you in getting your first clients, but they won’t know how until you ask. 

The one piece of advice I can give you when you’re starting your coaching business is… tell everyone about your new business. 

If you’re experiencing any impostor syndrome around talking about your business, know that that is normal and you can overcome it. For so many of us, it can be easier to tell complete strangers what we’re doing than telling our close family and friends.

Also remember sharing what you do is part of growing your business. And once you tap into your courage to put yourself out there, it will become easier over time. On the other side of that fear are the clients who are seeking someone just like you!

Keep the payoff in mind: Using your network to get clients can work so well that it can result in referrals and repeat clients!

What happens after you get your first few clients?

Once you’ve tapped your existing network, you’ll want to move into other marketing strategies to grow your business above and beyond your initial clients.

If you want support starting, growing, or marketing your coaching business, so you can find coaching clients consistently? Let’s chat!

As a holistic business coach, I’ve been helping coaches for the past several years, and I can help you, too. The first step is to sign up for a free consultation here.