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[This is part 1 of a 2-part series on creating clients]

The first thing I would like to point out here is that this post refers to creating clients rather than attracting them. This is an important distinction. There are already a gazillion blog posts in existence that suggest that if we just have the perfect website, the perfect branding, the perfect Instagram feed, a punishing social media schedule (perfectly executed of course) and let’s not forget about the perfect mailing list and the perfect sales funnel, then we’ll instantly have mobs of raving fans beating down our door, thrusting their hard earned cash into our hands.

Let me tell you now that this isn’t one of those posts.

The impetus to curate this article came when a woman inside my business academy asked for my views on the best way to get more clients. I told her I would give her question some thought and get back to her. In my thinking, I realised that whilst I have created many clients and certainly have a view on the best way to go about this, I wanted to give this woman (and my wider audience) more than just my limited opinion on this highly important topic.

I had the idea to pull together an in-depth article that gathers some of the best and current strategies people are using to create more clients in their service-based businesses. I reached out to female business owners whose work I admire and/or whose business advice I myself have benefitted from. I wanted to find inspiring examples of strong women sharing their gifts and doing business with integrity, something I don’t think we see enough of.

The depth and quality of response that I received from the following 7 women, meant that one article would have topped 5000 words, so I’ve broken the information into a two-part series.

There is some real wisdom in this post around an important topic, so my suggestion to you is that before reading on, you grab your notebook and pen and make yourself a cup of your favourite hot beverage and settle in to learn some soulful yet strategic steps you can take to grow your client base with integrity.

Ashlie Woods is a Retreat Leader, Coach + Photographer who believes that we are infinitely powerful and inherently creative and helps people to know that truth in the most undeniable of ways so that they can embody it in every area of their lives.

www.ashliewoods.com

The most helpful thing I’ve done to create more clients has been to show up and share myself and my work in a visible way. Facebook lives and Instagram stories have been highly effective ways for me to connect with new viewers and engage people in conversation. This has allowed me to get a better sense of where my potential clients are, what they’re actually dealing with and what they need. This means I can better serve them and it also means I can refine my message to find potential clients faster in the future.

The misconception that I had about creating clients is that I needed to be able to explain my work in a way that they could understand it. This had me focus more on what I was doing than on the ways that I could potentially support them. Shifting my focus to listen for where they are and how I’m best able to serve them has made a huge difference in my ability to speak directly to them and make that connection.

Own what you do and the value it has for people and the world.

Stand in that knowing as you interact with people and be willing to share it with conviction and humility.

Appreciate that creating clients is a process that takes time and be patient and continue to nurture the relationships with attention and love. BE your work. Embody your message in a way that communicates it to anyone that meets you. Keep doing what you know to do with a faithful heart. All is coming. 

Molly Mandelberg supports coaches, healers, and emerging thought-leaders to expand their outreach, so they can connect with more people, and make more money with less time spent.

www.wildheartsriseup.com

The most helpful thing I’ve done to create more clients is build my following. (And learn how and when to offer my people the next step.) The big misconception I had about creating clients was the ‘If you build it they will come’ idea, and what I’ve found it that it actually takes a lot of showing up and being visible for anyone to really know what you do and what you’re offering. 

There are ways to do that with automation and lots of flow, but it also takes some setting-up-of-things for it to be easy. What makes that all a faster process of discovery is knowing who your people are and what they are most wanting. 

Start with the end results in mind. Give your people what they actually want. Pay attention to who is already showing up, asking for your support, AND what they are asking you for help with. Then build the things that will easily guide them down the first leg of that journey.

Whatever happens, ask big questions,

take bold action and remember that you are here for a reason. 

Helen McLaughlin is an action-oriented coach, writer, and artist who helps people take small steps toward their big (even not-so-big) dreams.

www.helenmclaughlin.com

The most helpful thing I’ve done to create more clients is to ask for referrals. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine referrals would be my biggest source of perfect-fit clients (because let’s face it: There’s absolutely a difference between clients and perfect-fit clients, and I’m always after the latter). When I first began my coaching business, I was under the impression that finding clients had to be harder than simply asking someone who already knows and trusts me to connect me with specific family, friends, and colleagues. For some reason, referrals seemed like the throwaway approach; perhaps cheating the system, certainly a last-ditch effort, and maybe even a little embarrassing (why couldn’t I find clients on my own?). Also, did I really know enough people who would be willing to make referrals for me?

It turns out, if you have any family at all (we’re talking distant cousins, even), a handful of friends from different periods of your life, or former coworkers with whom you recall working amiably—you’re in a fabulous position to ask for a few referrals. These people who are already in your life very likely ‘get’ you on a fundamental level and can articulate what it’s like to be around you, what you stand for, and how you make others feel; essentially, they can serve as ambassadors for you out in the world—and oftentimes they’ll do so happily, once asked. And while you can ask just about any acquaintance for a referral, I’ve found that asking the folks who know and love me and/or the folks I’ve already coached is best. There’s a personal relationship there, which means everyone’s more invested.

A misconception I had about creating clients was that the would-be clients had to initiate the relationship. I was terrified of being seen as pushy or aggressive—and, to me, outreach could be easily misinterpreted as pushiness or experienced as aggressive. If I waited until a prospective client contacted me, I’d know for sure that a connection was welcome, that I wasn’t alienating anyone. So in the early days of my business, I waited. And waited…and waited, expecting clients to come out of the woodwork and ask after my coaching services, maybe even hire me on the spot. Perhaps needless to say, that didn’t happen. I could’ve waited a lifetime (Look! I’m being so respectful!) and nothing much would’ve happened in my business—because business doesn’t result from waiting.

I realized it was on me to make the first move, to be a little bit bold in connecting with prospective clients.

What I’ve learned since is this:

A coaching conversation is a gift.

There’s nothing pushy or aggressive about offering up a gift to someone.

 

Anyone is free to decline my gift (and many have!) if it isn’t of interest. Likewise, anyone is free to accept my gift (and many have!). My only responsibility is to offer the gift—and to make sure that I’m doing so with a pure heart (in other words, I need to make sure my offer isn’t coming from a place of personal ego or neediness or attachment to a particular outcome). How my gift is or isn’t received isn’t up to me; I can’t know or control others’ interpretations of my offer. All I can do is recognize a place where I might be of service (or even where I suspect I can be of service), and extend a simple, “Would you like some help with that?” The rest falls on the other person! What a relief, right?

If I were helping someone just starting out to create more clients, here’s what else I would say to her: Offer gratis sessions constantly and shamelessly. Truly, this is the best way to 1. become a better coach, 2. learn about the kind of client whom you most enjoy coaching, 3. discover your niche or specialty, and 4. create paying clients. Challenge yourself to make five offers a day for a month. If you do that every Monday through Friday, you’ll have made 100 offers by the end of 30 days—and, chances are, you’ll have created a boatload of conversations…maybe even a handful of clients. Oh, and don’t forget: Just because someone doesn’t become a client immediately doesn’t mean she’ll never be a paying client. You’re playing the long game here. Relationship-building is paramount. Trust is essential. In three years’ time, you might find that all your paying clients are folks with whom you first connected back in these early days of offering up gratis or low-cost sessions. And through referrals, too, of course.

There is so much wisdom contained in these words and I find myself agreeing wholeheartedly with the advice given by these three talented and soul-led female business owners.

I built my business using many of the suggestions offered here. Offering complimentary coaching sessions, as Helen suggests, is the primary way that I built my own coaching practice from zero to fully booked over the course of my first year in business. I coached hundreds of people that year and several of those people became paying coaching clients and/or bought my other products and services. Some even became great friends!

I love what Molly says about building her following and then knowing how and when to offer people the next step. Such a simple strategy but one that is overlooked by many. If you’ve been working to build your following, the chances are that much of your audience is willing to take a next step with you. What often happens however, with entrepreneurs earlier on in their journey, is a resistance to offering that next step out of a fear of coming across as too pushy or of damaging the relationship. Here’s the thing though – knowing how and when to offer people the next step comes from trial and error – you need to do it and see what works and what doesn’t and above all you need to ask your people, what it is that they want from you.

If you’re feeling unsure about how to even build your following then I recommend that you take heed of Ashlie’s advice around being more visible. This is another area that I see new female business owners struggle with, as I did too. Allowing yourself to be more visible is definitely a journey and even if the idea of putting yourself out there terrifies you a little, persevere and maintain a growth mindset around it. I spent many years telling myself (and everyone else) that I couldn’t do video before I realised that it’s a skill I could practice and improve at. Now I make videos regularly.

Above all else, I want to encourage you not to simply read this post but to take notes of the ideas and strategies that resonate and most importantly to implement what you learn.

If you have any questions about the strategies outlined here, please don’t hesitate to write them in a comment below and if there is someone you know who would benefit from reading this article, please do share it. To read the second post in this series, click here. 

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