After supporting thousands of coaches to build a boutique practice, I can tell you that there are really only 5 reliable ways to create your first 200 clients:
- Connect with people who know you, like you and trust you. Friends, family, current and former colleagues. Not to get them to give you money. Simply to connect – with humor and genuine curiosity.
- Reach out to people you don’t know with genuine curiosity, or a way to serve them. Preferably both. I have a friend who’s had a highly successful coaching business for 20 years. He still does not have a website. Every year he writes a handwritten letter to a group of business people in his area. He tells them what he knows about them, what he admires about them, and how he could help them. He says he’d love to support them. And he asks if they would like to chat. That’s it. For 20 years.
- Astonish former clients. The person who is most likely to pay you money is someone who has already paid you money. Never underestimate the power of offering to serve a former client.
- Ask for referrals. People who have experienced something great, love to talk about it.
- Hang out where your dream clients hang out. This can be online or even better face-to-face. Attend interesting conferences, do activities you love and never, ever go to networking meetings!
Reid Hoffman, the billionaire entrepreneur, once said, “If you want to do things that scale, start by doing things that don’t scale…”
That’s true for tech unicorns and it’s true for high-performing, high-fee coaches.
Ultimately, if you want a new client, do this:
Serve one person so powerfully they never forget you for the rest of their life. Repeat.