First Build a Relationship

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Excerpted with permission from Coaching the Coach: Stories and Practical Tips for Transforming lives, by renowned author and life coach Georgia Shaffer. Want to read more? Click here to purchase!

Georgia Shaffer, M.A.


Whether you realize or not, relationships are the fuel that feeds the success of your business.

Darren Dahl

While the need for coaching continues to rise, how do you connect with potential clients who want to grow personally or improve their relationships? And how do you reach those seeking guidance?

dai-ke-32162I discovered early in my career that to gain coaching clients I first had to cultivate relationships. Whether people became acquainted with me through my writing, speaking, networking, or video teaching, I realized that what I knew wasn’t as important to them as whether or not they felt we had a connection. Comments from new clients, such as “I feel like I already know you,” helped me realize that before someone chooses to work with me, they want to know they can relate to me.

You can move from having no relationship to being an acquaintance to becoming their paid coach in many ways. For instance, I gained a number of clients through my video teaching and on the YouTube channel. You might connect with potential clients through a blog, Facebook or Twitter. Pick a venue that fits your personality and skill set. For others, seeing you, hearing you and reading what you write provide glimpses into who you are as a person and a coach.

One action step you can take to grow your business is to create or fine-tune a biweekly or monthly newsletter. Recently, I attended two conferences on opposite sides of the country. In this age of blogging, the presenters at both events touted email newsletters as still being an important tool. I found that information especially interesting because I had been wondering if my email newsletter was as outdated as a cassette tape.

A newsletter is one of the top ways to engage with others because it provides the following:

  • A way to consistently engage with potential clients.
  • An opportunity to repeatedly affirm the value you have to offer as a coach.
  • A tool to evaluate what’s working and what isn’t.


What do you put in your newsletter if you want to move people from being an acquaintance to a client? Darren Rowse, a professional blogger, speaker and consultant, finds that he best connects when he inspires, informs, and interacts with others. These three are also important to coaches.


Because we first process sensory stimulation through the emotional part of our brain, people are drawn to you when they emotionally connect to you. Reading or hearing your stories, especially when you are vulnerable and honest, can motivate potential clients to want to make real changes in their relationships.

People also become emotionally engaged through images and photographs.

Include poignant, descriptive, or beautiful photos that will inspire your readers.



What do you know that will help others? Communicating the message that you want to provide information that will help others reach their potential is a lot different than saying you want their money. People are intuitive. Don’t underestimate their ability to determine your real motive. You want to be identified as a competent coach who wants to use your expertise to help others grow. That is the type of coach about which someone will say, “I’m willing to pay for their services.”

What practical articles can you write? Think about relational topics that would not only help readers but would be something they would want to share with their friends, coworkers or family. For example, as a relationship coach I share three techniques for helping people handle the resistance that comes with change. Whether it is their spouse, a coworker or a close friend going through a difficult transition, they can connect with someone in a meaningful way by doing the following:

  • Addressing, rather ignoring, the issue.
  • Normalizing their feelings, and letting people know they aren’t alone or crazy.
  • Expressing emotions, and allowing others freedom to voice their worries and fears.



With a newsletter, for example, you could send welcome letters when people sign up. In a week or so, you could email them one of your frequently requested articles. In two weeks, you could send them a link to a thought-provoking blog or article someone else has written.

stefan-stefancik-257625By consistently engaging with your readers they get to know you. Share your struggles and your relational frustrations and invite others to do the same. Pick a topic, pose a question, and encourage a discussion on Facebook. Ask your readers to share what relational topics they would like to read about, and then respond to suggestions. For instance, someone might pose a question on how to handle difficult people, which you could address in one of the upcoming newsletters.

Inform and inspire your clients, but most importantly interact and cultivate relationships. Don’t sell your coaching; instead connect with people. Focus on delivering results. When you care and put people first, your business will grow.


Coaching the Coach Tip:

If you want to increase the number of clients you work with, realize that developing relationships can take more than a few months. Recently, I received an email from a man who attended one of my conferences about coaching four years ago. He had been using my coaching tools, regularly visiting my website, and reading my newsletters and articles. He wanted me to know how much he appreciated what I had shared over the years. Then he said, “I’d love to work with you as my coach.” In four years we had moved from having no relationship to being client and coach because I’d consistently connected with him and provided information and tips he valued, which helped him grow.


shaffer_georgiaGeorgia Shaffer, M.A., is a professional speaker, certified Life Coach and the author of four books including Coaching the Coach: Lessons from Christian Coaches. She is is a regular columnist for Christian Coaching Today and a board member of the International Christian Coaches Association (ICCA). Georgia is on the teaching team of AACC’s Professional Life Coaching Training. She specializes in coaching coaches, women and communicators. To find out more, visit

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