As a coach, you need to master the art of first impressions to attract potential clients.
Paid advertising and word of mouth recommendations can take you far, but how you present yourself – both online and in-person – can either seal the deal or send them elsewhere.
So, how to make a good first impression as a coach?
Here are 5 ways to leave a positive impression:
1. Pay close attention to personal stories
When talking to a potential client, keep the focus on their situation.
Ask meaningful questions: Are they happy in their career? Do they feel as though their work-life balance is in check? Avoid straying into interrogation mode, but make them the star of the conversation.
A good coach must be an outstanding listener, so demonstrate this skill at every opportunity. Asking plenty of questions is also the best way to vet their suitability; you need to ascertain whether you can give them the kind of advice and support they need.
You cannot – and should not – try to be the perfect coach for everyone and anyone. Learning how and when to turn down potential clients is one of the most vital skills you will develop in your career.
2. Watch your body language
To inspire confidence in potential clients, you need to monitor both your verbal and nonverbal communication. Keep your posture open, your shoulders relaxed, and your movements decisive. Do not fidget, and keep your hands away from your face.
Instead of trying to create a good impression by feigning a happy mood, learn how to trigger positive feelings so you can feel truly relaxed and content whenever you need to impress potential clients.
Read a few pages of your favorite motivational book, listen to an inspiring podcast, or do a brief workout.
3. Always carry business cards
Have you ever asked someone for a business card, only to watch them scrabble around in their pockets or bag?
You probably didn’t walk away from the encounter with a favorable first impression. Keep your cards in a holder; presenting a prospective client with a scruffy card isn’t a good start.
Your cards should contain the following:
- Your full name and phone number
- Social media handles and website address
- A slogan or phrase that sums up what you offer clients, such as “I help you move forward”
- Space for notes
- A headshot
To encourage people to keep your card lying around, you could design them to serve a dual purpose. For example, you could use cards that double as bookmarks, or fill one side with inspirational quotes or tips that someone may wish to reread in the future.
4. Share your wisdom for free and build an online presence
Social media content, videos, and blogs that establish your authority and web presence make great first impressions on potential clients. Although online content isn’t a substitute for an in-person consultation, it gives potential clients a sense of who you are.
Here are a few ideas for content creation:
- Quick tips people can use for overcoming common problems, such as stress at work or procrastination;
- Insights into psychological theories relevant to personal growth and change;
- Your story as a coach: tell your viewers why you pursued your current career path, who you work with, and your USP;
- Stories and case studies showing how you have helped clients change their lives;
- Quotes from successful, well-known people that will inspire your potential clients;
- Content that lets clients and potential clients know who you are outside of your coaching role. For example, you can include occasional vacation shots on your Instagram.
Dina Indelicato, the writer for PickWriters, believes that all coaches, regardless of specialism, need to devise a sound content strategy. “Useful content that adds real value to clients’ lives will take your business to the next level,” he advises. “Passing on quick tips, together with in-depth analysis, will attract people looking for a skilled coach.”
Mix and match your content format. Some people appreciate lengthy blog posts, whereas others just want to pick up a few nuggets of wisdom from their Instagram feeds each morning.
You don’t have to build a presence on every social media platform but do tailor your content to each. For instance, Twitter lends itself to short pithy messages, whereas Instagram is the perfect place to post your photos and memes.
5. Pick your outfits and accessories with care
If you know you will be meeting potential clients in person, dress for the occasion. In general, a smart casual outfit is a safe bet. Jeans and a t-shirt can seem unprofessional, but a suit might be intimidating. Think about the type of client you want to attract, and dress accordingly.
When attending networking events, make it easy for more reserved clients to strike up a conversation by wearing a distinctive or unusual accessory. For example, carrying an attention-grabbing purse gives someone the perfect excuse to talk to you; they can compliment your choice, and you can then use your social skills to build rapport.
If your approach isn’t working, it’s time to get some honest feedback.
A coach knows the value of feedback, so ask a trusted friend or colleague to give their input. Perhaps your blog needs polish, or maybe you need to appear calmer when talking to a prospective client. Sometimes, we are blind to our own weaknesses.
Feedback can be hard to take, but in the end, it can make all the difference to your coaching career. And promoting yourself gets easier.
When you are first starting out as a coach, it’s easy to start doubting yourself. If you don’t have a lot of experience, projecting an air of confidence may not come naturally.
The only remedy is to develop a genuine belief in your ability to make a positive change in someone’s life. You might need to consult with a mentor or undertake some inner work before you feel at ease talking to prospects.
The good news is that, over time, you will become more comfortable talking to potential clients. One day, you won’t even worry about the impression you leave on others – you’ll just assume that you’ve done a great job.