The way you find your first coaching clients may surprise you.
Pretty much the first question any coach has fresh out of coach training is: How do I get my first coaching clients?
Your first (paid) coaching clients can seem like the holy grail. It’s what will actually legitimize your business 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 actually be easier than you think.
Common misconceptions about getting your first coaching clients
Most coaches (mistakenly) believe that in order to get their very first clients:
- They have to have a large Instagram following. (You can book out your business without followers!)
- They have to be sharing copious amounts of content. (While it’s content is great, it likely won’t be the way you attract your very first clients)
- They have to have the perfect website, offer, or anything else. (Not necessary!)
It’s not that the above strategies don’t work. They do; however, they often take a longer time to build out and so, are long-term client attraction strategies.
The way you find your first coaching clients is usually much simpler than this.
(If you’re looking for a comprehensive list of short and long term strategies, check out this list of 21 ways to market your business.)
The secret about finding your first coaching clients
Over the past 7 years, I’ve supported coaches to start their businesses and get their first clients. Guess where most coaches’ FIRST clients came from?
Nope, not ads, not podcasts, not even networking events.
Their first coaching clients came from … their own network!
That’s right! More often than not, your very first clients will come from your existing network, because they are already people who know, like and trust you.
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. In the meantime, your own existing network is a huge opportunity for clients and 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.
How I found my first clients
I got my first few coaching clients from one single Facebook post.
I shared on my personal Facebook page 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 clients.
- The first client was an acquaintance I had made through a training program.
- The second client was a coach I had previously worked with who was looking for marketing support.
- The third client was a former coworker from a couple years back 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 source your first coaching clients from your existing network
To use your existing network to find clients, it’s as simple as creating a post or an email that explains what you do, who you do it for, how you help, and how someone can contact you.
(This is where a clear message is critical. You can read this post to help you define yours.)
After sharing about you and what you do, make a clear ask:
- “If you know of anyone who could benefit from working with me, would you please share my information?”
- “If you or someone you know could use my support, please message me.”
- “I’d greatly appreciate it if you could keep me in mind for anyone who might need this type of support.”
Once you have that together, you can:
- Share on your *personal* social media profiles on which you’re active. Whether it’s Facebook, IG, LinkedIn or all three, be sure to share on the platforms where you’re active. (And be sure it’s your personal profile, because you want to reach out to personal connections!)
- Email your friends and family. The content is similar to your post, but it’s a more personal, more direct ask. The key is to personalize your email to each contact and ask directly for a referral.
Many people are happy to help support you, but they won’t know how until you ask.
What to keep in mind when looking for your first coaching clients
The one piece of advice I can give you when you’re starting your coaching business is… tell everyone about what you’re doing and say that you’re accepting clients.
If you’re experiencing any impostor syndrome or fear around this, 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 beyond your initial clients.
If you want support starting or growing your coaching business, let’s chat!
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.