Community is defined as, “the condition of sharing or having certain attitudes and interests in common.” We all need some of that, don’t we?
Coaching can be a very lonely business. Many coaches run their own solo coaching practice. For internal coaches, they cannot readily talk with others in their organization about their work. This leaves coaches feeling isolated and alone, but it doesn’t have to be that way!
Community can provide some great benefits for coaches:
Connection and companionship
A safe space to discuss coaching issues
Personal development support
For coaches who run their own business, building community can provide new business opportunities and additional capacity through referrals. There may be times when, for whatever reason, you are not the right coach for a client. Being able to refer them to someone you know and trust is a really helpful gesture. Additionally, as your reputation and community grows, your community will refer you to people they know. You may also want to consider working with another coach or coaching organisation as an Associate. This may help potential clients see you as more than ‘a one wo/man band’, and could give you access to larger organisations you might not have been able to engage with on your own.
So how do you find your community? Here are some ideas of where to start:
Your coaching school — Check if your coaching school has alumni days or alumni webinars. Here at Tracy Sinclair Coach Advancement, we run quarterly Coaching Clinic Webinars for our alumni. These are designed to share information, develop our coaching and support the building of community. Stay connected with your classmates beyond the classroom.
Local coaching groups — Find an ICF Chapter near you. (Both Tracy and I have been involved with the United Kingdom ICF Chapter.) ICF Chapters often have regular meetings where you can meet, share and learn with other coaches. If you can’t find one in your area, consider starting one of your own – in person or virtual.
Local business networks and groups — Connect with local businesses who may need coaching, or who could help you obtain skills to build your own business.
Conferences — Attend coaching conferences (like ICF Converge) and business conferences.
Webinars — Learn and meet others online. ICF offers many Communities of Practice for member coaches.
Coaching workshops — Create your own workshop and invite local people and businesses. Introduce them to coaching and how it could benefit them.
Building your community isn’t just about building a community of coaches. It could, and should be, a community that includes local business, charities, individuals, schools, and more! Remember, it’s not just about obtaining new business. Remember why you became a coach in the first place.
You might ask these questions as you start to work out where to find your community:
Why did I become a coach?
What are my values as a coach?
What am I passionate about?
Who do I want in my community and why?
Fundamentally, building a community (coaching or otherwise) will also help you develop your business. Starting out, many coaches neglect to understand that coaching is a business. A coaching practice needs to be approached and built as a business. We are lucky that the businesses we own and run as coaches, also allows us to work within our passion and create joy. As the saying goes: ‘when work is a joy, it is no longer work’.
Who do you know that might like to build community alongside you on this journey? Find that person and you’ll be on your way to building your community, building your business and creating your joy!
Hilary Oliver is a Professional Certified Coach (PCC) with the International Coach Federation (ICF). She is also a trained Coaching Supervisor and Mentor Coach. Hilary trains coaches and works with managers and leaders to develop their coaching capability. She works as an international Corporate Executive and Board Level Coach, a leadership development designer and facilitator working with a wide range of organisations. Hilary also specialises in working with organisations to support them develop coaching culture. She has been the President of the UK ICF and is a Past Chair of the ICF Global Board.