Most of my clients come from relationships I have tended over the years. As I look back over the nine years since I graduated from the coaches training program, my clients have come from:
- People I have known, worked with, and kept in touch with over the course of my work life;
- Referrals from past and current clients (including people who have interviewed me but not selected me);
- Referrals from health/HR professionals; and
- Coach Training Programs (CTP) where I have been a mentor coach and leader in training.
For me, it’s all about relationships—building them and nurturing them over time and space. I think of myself as a gardener. Like a good gardener, I don’t just plant seeds of possibility and hope they will germinate or turn into clients months or years later. Instead, I carefully and lovingly nurture my seeds or relationships and trust that with care and feeding, some will blossom into clients at just the right time.
- The first step is preparation of the soil where I plant the seeds. A rich soil for planting has been turned over and over and has many nutrients. I “turn over” the soil with new conversations and I keep in touch. Also preparation includes deciding where to plant. There are many places I can plant seeds, I decide which of the fields will be most prosperous and I plant there. This is akin to what we suggest in the coaches training program—“swim in the ponds” where you are likely to find paying clients. In this case, plant seeds in the fields most likely to bear fruit.
- The second step is planting seeds. Planting is cyclical and generally happens every season. I plant lots of seeds and remain unattached to which ones sprout. Some seasons I let a plot lay fallow to regenerate, but no worries, because there are lots of plots to choose from.
- The next step is care and feeding. I have no idea which seeds will sprout so I take care of them all. I send messages, cards, leadership articles, emails; whatever I think would be of interest. Denise Yamada from San Diego says it takes nine touches to create a new client. So my care and feeding creates multiple opportunities to connect and “touch” my potential clients. At this stage I’m thinking what can I give, not what can I get.
- After this is harvesting. I really never know what is going to be in my harvest each season. Trust is important. I remain unattached to which seeds sprout and manifest as new clients.
- Then comes enjoying the bounty. This is where I am surprised and delighted at who shows up. I practice gratitude. I share the bounty knowing that the cycles of nature are divine and unpredictable. Some seasons I may have a bumper crop of clients so I share with others.
- The last step is beginning again. When a client completes, just like when a plant “goes to seed,” things sprout and are created elsewhere. A seed of possibility from a satisfied client can produce a new client far flung! So for me, new clients come from last season’s crops. Is this phase I also take time to regenerate so I can approach next season’s planting with joy and ease. Who I am being when I garden is what creates my “green thumb” --
Authenticity, Spirit, Love, Leader and Wisdom