(This piece is a guest post by Holly Worton)
My clients are all sorts of holistic practitioners, but they’re mostly coaches–and a lot of them are very fearful of using social media for business.
Some of them aren’t even on Facebook for personal use. They may consider themselves to be technophobes, or they may simply be fearful of putting themselves out there and coming under attack, as Maria Kang did for her now-famous “What’s your excuse?” photo. Whatever the reason, many of these coaches have built up this block in their minds that prevents them from using the very useful tools that make up social media.
The thing is, social media is not about the tools. It’s about the people. Social networks, blogs, and forums are simply a means to connect with people all over the world…including those who are in our target market of clients. And it’s much, much easier than you might think, especially when you put any fears or hesitations you may have aside.
Many coaches are of an age that they did not grow up with social media. It’s very much a new thing, and even if you grew up with computers, it was not possible to connect and engage with people in the ways we can now. So this is a new concept, and it’s something that a lot of people are still struggling to understand.
Offline networking is something we’re used to. There’s no need to wrap our heads around the concept. It’s simple: you go to a business networking group or a social activity of some kind, and you meet with people. Easy.
But social media is exactly the same. It’s just that we can do the same thing from the comfort of our home or office. We don’t meet people face to face, but rather through our computers. Not only that, but we aren’t tied down to our local geographical area: we can meet people all over the world, which expands our network exponentially. Here’s how to connect on social media:
It’s about people, not numbers.
So what’s the one thing that so many people forget on social media? That it’s about building relationships. It’s about connecting with people, engaging with them online, and nurturing relationships that could lead to new clients or new joint ventures, or other ways of growing your business.
Social media is not about how many Twitter followers you have, or likes on your Facebook page, or views on your YouTube videos. It’s about the quality of the connections you’re making online.
You may have 2,000 Twitter followers (you know as well as I do how easy that is to get…many people will automatically follow you back), but if you’re not engaging with those people and getting to know them, then what’s the use?
I meet people on forums that I belong to, on list building challenges, and on my blog…and I connect with them on social media. When I go to an offline event like a workshop or a networking group, I take home the cards I’ve collected and add them on any social networks that they use. Whenever I come across new and interesting people when browsing online, I immediately add them on social media.
Social Media builds “know, like, and trust.”
Social media is how I get to know people: I connect with them, and as I learn more about them, I get to like them. I start to engage with them online. And that’s how you get that know, like and trust that’s so important in business.
Once I’ve gotten to the point where I know, like, and trust someone, I may invite them to write a guest post on my blog, or to be a guest on my podcast. When they email me asking for help in promoting a new product that they’re launching, I’m more than happy to help. Because they’re not just a random connection. They’re someone I already know.
Even if I’ve never met them in person.
Whether you’re one of those people who’s hesitant about using social media for business, or whether you’re already using it but you know you could be getting more out of it, ask yourself: am I focusing on the quantity of my connections, or the quality? Am I focusing on the numbers, or on the individuals? Social media is all about building relationships with real people, even though you’re just seeing them through your computer screen.
Take action today
Review your connections on all of the social media networks that you belong to. Select a few people that you’ve connected with on each platform, and strike up a conversation with them. Ask them a question, compliment them on a blog post. Get to know them a little better.
I hope this helped demystify things a bit. I’ve trained as a coach, so I know what it’s like to build that connection with a client in a session or throughout a coaching program. We’re talking about exactly the same concept of connection and trust-building with social media, except that you’re doing it online.
Holly Worton helps coaches, holistic practitioners, and women in heart-centered businesses go from confusion to confidence with social media, so they can use it to build relationships online and get more clients. Why? Because as a heart-centered business owner, you do amazing work, and she wants to help you help more people. The way to do that is through Connection, and social media is one of the best ways to connect with others and to build your tribe. Sign up for her free 90-minute social media training at http://sociallyholistic.com to get started building connections online. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter , Pinterest, or Google+.
(This piece is a guest post by Hannah Marcotti).
The last free session I ever did with a potential client was four years ago, sitting in my minivan outside my son’s preschool. Four years ago, half of my work time took place in that van, sitting outside coffee shops with a sleeping baby, stealing the wireless if I got a close enough parking spot, laptop perched on my legs, phone at my side.
Just into my second year of business I was still in struggle and doubt mode. I wore it well, made it pretty and sparkly, but damn it was hard.
I arranged to have a free session with a woman I had been emailing with a little bit and I was confident that we were a beautiful match. Part of my training as a Health Coach was to offer a free session for 30-45 minutes and so that is what I did. I talked to her almost exclusively about the free session and we set up our time to chat.
Our chemistry was amazing. We ended up talking for almost an hour. That session felt beautiful because I could feel her starting to peel, in our free session, and she was opening. Ready. It wasn’t the typical awkward free session, and I knew she was fully “in” from the first moment.
I felt empowered and open. I didn’t have to sell to her, I could just be there with her.
There was magic unfolding inside of her words, and she was being heard and seen. I was doing that thing I’ve done since a young girl, holding space for story, knowing, surrender and change.
I was trained to end the calls with a little sales pitch. I hated it. I hated the words ‘sales pitch’ or ‘close the deal.’ My stomach always felt a little sick.
And so I did what all beautifully rebellious coaches do–I didn’t follow what I had been taught. I listened to my intuition that I did not need to sell to this woman. I told her what a beautiful call that was. I told her that talking with her transformed the way I would continue into my day. I thanked her for her time. I was ready to say good-bye.
She said, “What do I need to do to sign up for 6 months?” She wanted to put the energy (money and time) into what she had received. She wanted more.
Often that first session with a client is the one that sets a foundation for change in their life so deeply, simply because someone is listening. The first time we connect has the potential to shift them radically if they can feel invested in the time they are sharing. That first call is powerful, transforming. If we can fully show up for it.
The call that day shifted the way I saw my business, my work in the world. I realized that my focus had been on marketing free sessions and the “sale.” When I got on the phone with this woman who I knew was ready from the beginning, I could stop focusing on closing the deal and begin to hold space.
Space is where the change happens.
I stopped doing free sessions and no longer had to answer email after email about what they were and how they would unfold. I didn’t have to schedule them. I didn’t have to market them. I didn’t have to talk about them or feel that sick feeling that comes at the end when the sales pitch is supposed to come. I redesigned my services.
I found the power that can come from one hour together so figured why not make that a service that provided a gorgeous energy exchange (money for space/guiding). I could hire a babysitter and stop sitting in my van! I could struggle a tiny bit less now because I was allowing my intuition to guide me.
Alternatives to Free
Free can be attached to fear. We are afraid of the sales pitch and if someone will sign up for more and our potential clients/customers may be afraid of hearing it or getting something for nothing. Really! I have a friend who likes to say, “I like to pay a lot of money for really amazing things.” She doesn’t waste money on stuff she doesn’t need or want, and she invests in experiences, beautiful food and wine. She took a trip to Paris. Her connection to the energetic exchange becomes a deep part of her investment.
When you are no longer marketing a free session you can begin to show YOU. Go check out some websites that offer free sessions and ones that do not. Where are they directing your eye and your energy? Think about the most important thing you want people to notice on your site or inside of your marketing. I hope the answer is YOU. They need to notice you.
A commitment creates value. When you pay for something, you have a perceived value. I want my value to be rock star- badass- nurturing- sexy- intriguing-life changing magic maker. I price accordingly.
There is more than one way to do free. I offer free e-books that can be read by thousands, offer huge value and show more of who I am. I often re-purpose what I’ve written in the past and create content that I offer for free. I show up on social media so I can be seen. Every year on my birthday I put out a free program that builds my list like crazy and takes very little time for me to put together. These things kick a free session’s ass.
Energy exchanges build trust and get results. Let me tell you about my favorite dress. When I stopped shopping the clearance rack and found designers who made clothes that made me feel sexy I started to pay a lot more for clothes than ever before. When I put on that sexy black dress that falls off my shoulder I sell some dresses for that Etsy designer! I love paying for her clothes. I love telling people about her and sharing the link. We built a relationship over the energy exchange.
Holding space in my minivan doing free sessions has grown into a business with hundreds of women taking part in courses and experiences that I create. I have a beautiful loft space that I work out of and park the minivan in the parking lot. Claiming my rock star- badass- nurturing- sexy- intriguing- life changing magic maker value allowed me to guide with my intuition and receive as I give.
I give a lot for free. Every bit of it gives back, and people can see me as I hold space for them. The value of what I do continues to increase as I believe in myself just that much more. Everything I offer feels good in my gut, my spirit.
We are creating energy exchanges and if we are willing to believe in us, so will those gathering around.
Hannah Marcotti is a quietly impassioned motivator who serves as guide to your gorgeous life and business of the heart. She is living life in highly sensitive skin, finding ways to move through life in each new iteration of self and deeply believes that change is sexy . You’ll find her circling women to help them celebrate life through story, soulwork and sometimes bourbon and bubbles. She is often found tattooing joy on the spirits of those in her community. Each Thursday morning Hannah sends out a love note to her community which you can sign up for here. Twitter: @hannahmarcotti.
(This piece is a guest post from career coach Laura Simms).
I don’t do “buy now” buttons for one-on-one coaching. For the nearly three years of my coaching practice, I’ve offered a brief, free consultation before taking on new clients.
I think it’s quite possible to be successful without offering this kind of freebie, but they’ve been central to my business. I’ll share why I do free consults, the benefits they’ve provided my clients and me, and some tips in case you decide to make free consults successful and a part of your business plan.
Why I Offer Free Consults
I admit I started out offering these complimentary calls because I thought that’s what everyone did, and what I was supposed to do.
I’ve stuck with them because, at least at this point in my business, there is no better filter to determine who ought to work with me than me.
Yes, the free call is an opportunity for a prospective client to scope me out, but it’s equally a chance for me to vet them. With my current signature offer, I spend about six hours coaching each client. Free calls allow me to make sure that 1.) I will enjoy talking to this person for six hours, 2.) the person’s expectations of what I can do with them are accurate, and 3.) I feel confident that I can solve the problem they are coming to me with.
One argument I hear against free consults is that they’re a waste of time because people will stand you up. In the past six months, I’ve only had three no-shows, and the conversion rate for these free sessions has been 60%. That’s worth a little “wasted” time to me.
The Benefits of Free Consults
Have you ever been around a group of coaches, and eventually the “tell me about your nightmare clients” conversation is timidly initiated? I’ve sat in on several of these conversations, but I’ve never had anything to contribute.
Why? Free consults have ensured that I only work with great people. I can claim no crazies or drama queens in my crew; just awesome people I would like to spend time with outside of coaching sessions.
The Great People Only factor has had a ripple effect. I’ve never had to issue a refund to an unhappy client, I consistently get great testimonials that forward my business, and clients are happy to refer their friends to me. But perhaps most important is that my clients are never a source of stress. I get to genuinely look forward to each session like I might look forward to having coffee with a friend.
And because clients have the chance to speak to me personally before they pull the trigger, once they’re in they’re really invested. There’s a high level of trust and co-operation before we even begin, and I know that contributes to my clients’ success.
Make Free Consults Work for You
Here a few tips to make the most of your free sessions:
1. Automate the process
I use an automatic scheduler (consider Satori or Time Trade), which allows prospective clients to sign up for a free Hello Session by clicking on my sales page. They schedule their session, and are sent a short questionnaire to frame the conversation we’ll have and some details about the intention of the call. This helps set expectations and make them comfortable before we speak.
2. Work from a loose script
My free calls all follow a similar format. After much experimentation, I’ve learned the best ways to open and close the call. When I stick to my little formula, things flow well.
3. Know your secret passwords
When talking with a potential client, there are a couple phrases I listen for to determine if they’re ready for the work I do. When they say, “I’m really ready to do this,” “I’ve read your whole website,” or “I’ve done a lot of personal work on myself, but I can’t seem to put all the piece together when it comes to my career,” I know they’ll be a good fit.
4. Trust your gut
Any red flags? Then this is not the client for you, even if you can’t put your finger on exactly why. Be prepared with a compassionate way to recommend that they seek some other kind of support rather than working with you. Have a list of appropriate people and books you can refer them to.
5. Don’t give away coaching
This is a consultation, not a free session. Don’t do any heavy lifting or problem solving. The point is to sniff each other out and see if you’d work well together. I will often say, “Here’s where I’d want to start if we were going to work together…” and then outline some of things we’d tackle, but that’s as much detail as I go into. Since I’ve set this expectation in the automated emails from Satori, people aren’t disappointed.
6. Give honest answers
“Have you ever done this work with an attorney before?” “How many people have you coached?” “I think I might be depressed; can you help me with that?” Answer honestly, and don’t fudge. If they don’t want you where you’re at, or their problem is out of your league, then you don’t want to move forward. You should never have to convince anyone to work with you.
Free consultations can be a boon for your business. As with everything, treat them as an experiment and develop your own best practices for you and your clients.
Laura Simms is a career coach who helps purpose-driven people find careers that feel like home. She’s the creator of Your Career Homecoming, the author of The Purpose Paradigm, and her work has been featured on US News & World Report, LKR Social Media, and Psychology Today. Get her FREE training to connect the dots between you and money: Get Paid for Being You.
(This piece is a guest post from the amazing Ronna Detrick).
I live with no illusion: the thing I talk about, write about, and frankly, preach about, is the very thing I most need and want for myself. And this is good news!
Believe me: I haven’t always felt this way.
I spent years convinced that I needed to have my own shit together before I could possibly offer anything of value to anyone else. Sound familiar? And though it’s true that professionalism, training, and expertise are of extreme importance, to wait for them to magically appear, somehow make you feel “ready,” and ostensibly give you permission to speak and serve is not only naïve, but super-frustrating.
We’re never ready. We’re never complete. We’re never experts.
But we’re always trying. We’re always growing. We’re always learning. And this reality, this truth, this “edge” is the VERY best thing you could possibly offer anyone else – in business, in love, in life.
Your vulnerabilities are exactly what you most powerfully and compellingly offer the world.
Not Providing “all the answers”
A personal example: I talk to people about their spirituality, about their beliefs (or lack thereof), about their desire to live a life of integrity and alignment and “connection” with a bigger story and even the Divine. I wish I could tell you that my life is always deeply spiritual, that my beliefs are rock-solid, and that I have a direct line to God. I cannot.
Here’s what’s I can tell you: I long for all these things which is the very reason why I understand them in my clients.
My hungers are the same ones I hear echoed in the voices and hearts of those with whom I have the privilege of working. And yes, my very weaknesses are the place from which I speak with the most passion, the most commitment, and the most energy because they are what I’m most passionate about, committed to, and have the most energy around – in and for myself!
Nope, no justifications
Does all of this sound slightly narcissistic? Like some kind of justification that any-old-person can talk/coach about any-old-thing whether qualified, or not? I hope not!
But the other end of the spectrum is just as dangerous and costly: you, me, any of us holding back all that we have to offer the world because we somehow think that just one more class, one more training, one more certification will give us the skill and qualification to finally provide what others need.
I’m sure of this: you already have what others need and want. How do I know? Because it’s what you need and want.
Do I merely work from my hunger and longing; my own desire for growth and development? No. These are, of course, intentionally partnered with my education, certification, ongoing training, and amazing peer support (not to mention a catalog of books that is ever-growing on my Kindle). It is when I work – and risk – from both my expertise and my vulnerabilities that I step into places of wisdom and genuineness that cannot be taught in a skill-based context alone, but through the honest lessons of life. I have to practice what I preach, as well.
It’s not (only) about being fully qualified; it’s about recognizing that your desire is what fuels the wisdom you offer others. It’s not (ever) about being perfect; it’s about being honest.
It’s (always) about “Preaching to the Choir” – saying what you most want, you most believe, you most long to have be true and trusting that those same words, that exact perspective will be exactly what someone else has been waiting to hear.
Our willingness to act – and risk – within the context of our vulnerabilities is the very thing that makes us strong, amazing, and exemplary.
It is grace, indeed, to realize that we have the capacity to receive and give simultaneously, to offer joy in the midst of our own pain, to provide insight in our own confusion, to see ourselves as capable and strong and competent even as we ever-strive for more of the same.
Ronna Detrick M.Div. transforms women’s sacred stories. A Spiritual Director (or “Evocator,” as she likes to call herself) for more than 10 years, she loves inviting deep, passionate, and rich conversation about things that matter: faith, hope, desire, and what it means to be a woman of voice, impact, and strength. She blogs . She offers products and courses. She speaks, including a recent TedX talk. She does Sacred Readings. And she’s recently signed a contract with a literary agent who is talking to publishers even now about her book in which she re-imagines the ancient, sacred stories of women in ways that invite us to do the same.