Your coaching business depends on THIS
You want to be the one people look to when they need help or when they are ready to do what it takes to make their dreams come true. To be that person, there is one area that you absolutely cannot let falter…

Written By Gary Reinecke

ICF Master Certified Coach, Resource Designer, Mission Strategist : InFocus
Your coaching business absolutely depends on your reputation. New clients will want to know what current and past clients have to say about you—how you made a difference in their life and ministry. They will look at the message you communicate to see if it is consistent and resounds with their own. And they will want to know your reputation amongst your peers and other leaders. 

Here are some things to keep in mind as you work to build and maintain your reputation…

your business depends on your reputation

What current and past clients say about you

Referrals are the absolute best way to build your coaching practice.  This is not to discount speaking engagements, books, social media, blogging or podcasting.  But the main way I have grown my client-base over the last 35+ years is through word of mouth.  Practically speaking, when one client (pastor, church planter, network leader) shares my name with another colleague, it carries weight!  I would suggest that it carries more weight than another other medium out there.

The message you communicate

Since the introduction of blogging came into the mainstream this has given professional coaches a direct inroad to prospective client’s Inbox, at a reasonable cost.  But what you communicate in your blog, website or other media is so, so, very important.  In a simple phrase – it must connect with your audience AND be all about them.  If it is all about you; your “open” rate will suffer.  Beyond blogging though, when you are in a position to talk about yourself, your services, your value add – it must be carefully crafted.  Humility will serve you well in this space!

A suggestion about social media.  I am not personally active on social media for a number of reasons.  And blogging is my primary means of distributing professional content on the internet.  One of the ways prospective clients will find out who you really are today, is by searching the dominant social media platforms.  If you are active on social media, my suggestion when interacting with other accounts is to keep it positive. Celebrate others and what God is doing in and through them wherever you can. Avoid entering into controversial arguments online—there is too much room for misunderstanding. Should someone take issue with something you post, adopt a coachable posture by being: “inquisitive, receptive to change and committed to growth”. (Christian Coaching Excellence, p.37)  Tone is everything in communication and it is easily lost in text.  Be mindful, considerate, and follow Jesus’ example. The guiding principle with social media should be “whatever you do, do it with excellence.”

What other leaders think about you

Word travels fast.  Faster as technology evolves.  If people know you as a person of integrity, competence and godly character – that message travels well.  And it will build your credibility if and when you engage with potential clients who have heard the good you bring into people’s lives.  

One lesson I have learned through spiritual direction is when in the wrong – admit you are wrong and ask for forgiveness.  Demonstrating humility and a posture of ongoing learning is more important than being right all the time.

Become a subject matter expert

Within the space you serve, find your sweet-spot!  Here are seven questions to help you find your unique area(s) of specialization.  Take time to carefully reflect on each.  Draft your response and share it with your inner circle of trusted colleagues for honest feedback.

  1. What are you passionate about?
  2. Identify the primary “buckets” where you coach? 
  3. Think of tools you have coached leaders and you are competent in using?
  4. What types of leaders do you especially resonate with? 
  5. What areas of expertise do you bring to coaching? 
  6. What networks are you aligned with? 
  7. In your experience, what are the common needs leaders face?

4 Ways to Build Your Reputation

1. Engage in discounted or pro bono coaching

I try to have a couple of locally generated projects of this type at any given time.  One year I trained coaches for 2-3 organizations to come alongside people in poverty: homelessness, joblessness, and life-skills.  It will require a sacrifice on your part at the beginning but it gives your community a chance to see what value your coaching provides to clients and the impact it has.  Over time, this can become an authentic way to network with other like-minded leaders.  The message you are communicating is the real goal: “Generosity”.

2. Accept invitations for interviews or webinars

These will need to come to you.  But you should make people aware that you are available.  Take advantage of every opportunity.  I just so happen to have an example that I will share with you.  On Wednesday, March 20 join me for an informative conversation with Ben Ingebretson of Coram Deo as we discuss coaching and multiplication with High Impact – Low Cost church plants.  Here is the Zoom link if you are interested in joining me – CLICK HERE.

3. Write a book

This takes a lot of focus, desire and well – grit.  Find a problem you feel God has placed on your heart.  Gather your thoughts, distill it into a readable format and begin the journey.  Today, it is relatively easy to self-publish if you are willing to put in the work.  Publishing a book on a topic people actually care enough about to read is quite an accomplishment.  The benefits of a well-timed, well-written, well-marketed book is invaluable to your coaching practice and will expand on and build your reputation. 

4. Speaking 

What are the best places for you to be known?  Consider who your ideal client is and find ways to share your wisdom.  This is similar to writing but might be more accessible depending on the networks you are connected to.  Some coaches are amazing at this.  When I look at the faculty list for various coach-related conferences I see some of the same names over and over again.  One of my favorite secular coaches is Michael Bungay Steiner (who I reference in Christian Coaching Essentials, p.48).  He is a brilliant speaker and writer who has integrated this well into his practice.

5 Questions to Help you Build a Good Reputation

  1. What are your core values?
  2. What do you want to be known for as a coach?
  3. How will you get your message out there?
  4. Who can you ask for honest feedback?
  5. Who will endorse your coaching?

Your Reputation Matters

Finally, I believe the secret to longevity as a Christian coach is to find your lane, stay in it, and don’t drive recklessly.  A lot of coaches come and go.  Some “go” at no fault of their own but others contribute to their downfall.  Be wise, discerning and hold high standards of integrity as you build your coaching practice. 

When I started out, there were 3 requirements to becoming a professional coach in the ministry world: a doctoral degree, ordination, and a track record. In my experience, the third, a track record with a reputation that goes along with it, is the most important.

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.  If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” — Warren Buffet

NEW! For quick coaching tips and to be amongst the first to learn of new resources, follow ChristianCoachingTools on Instagram!

The linked Skills Builders will give you the essentials on each topic, to build your reputation as a Christian coach.  Here are the key questions they will help you answer:

  • What are your goals and objectives to grow your coaching practice in the next 6 months?
  • How can you be more assertive in reaching your goals?
  • What can you do to align your time with your goals? 

Photo by Joao Tzanno on Unsplash

Cover Photo by Peter van Eijk on Unsplash

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