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Episode 93: Client Strengths = Better Marketing

In today’s episode, I want to show you a great way to capture important information about your clients so that you can learn more about who your ideal client is, who you naturally attract, and how to become more of a client magnet.

There are really two parts to working with clients in a coaching relationship. 

The first part is to help our clients become more self aware so that they know what thinking and doing habits need to change. 

When our clients are more self-aware it facilitates the second main part of coaching clients, which is helping them to experiment with new lifestyle habits and make those changes in a way that suits them, their needs and their personalities.

Coaches use a variety of quizzes and questionnaires to help clients become self-aware. I call this ‘grow’ content because every time a client learns something about themselves it helps them to grow a little.

And one of the main tools that coaches use is the VIA strength test.

In this episode I want to walk you through a step-by-step process of enhancing the professionalism of your practice, and using the VIA strengths test information to enhance your marketing.

VIA strengths test

The VIA Institute on character is an organisation that combines the science of strength with the practice of well-being. 

According to their website:

The VIA Institute on Character helps people change their lives by tapping into the power of their own greatest strengths. Established as non-profit organization in 2001, we set out – and continue to – advance both the science and practice of character, and empower those on their strengths-building journey. That’s why we make our research accessible to everyone and offer the VIA Survey free of charge, worldwide.

 

Every time a client learns something about themselves it helps them to grow a little.

They say that “your character strengths are the qualities that come most naturally to you. They say that every individual possesses all the 24 character strengths in different degrees, giving each person a unique character strengths profile. And when you know your strengths you can improve your life and thrive. The research reveals that people who use their strength a lot are 18 times more likely to be flourishing than those who do not use their strengths.”

The VIA character strengths test is a core piece of strengths-based coaching and it sets the scene for introducing positive psychology into your coaching sessions, and helping your clients create an upward spiral with their health and wellbeing habits.

Enhancing Your Professionalism

As a scientist by training, I’m a strong believer that every time you do something in your business it makes sense to do it in the most professional, replicable, efficient and streamlined way possible. 

And the first tip that I want to share with you today is something that is going to help you build your professional, credible reputation.

You can actually create your own professional account on the VIA website and you can store basic client results in that website. 

Firstly, what that means is that you can give your client a personalized link to the VIA website that has your practice name or business name in the URL.

Here’s how you set that up.

Firstly visit www.viacharacter.org

Click on the ‘Professionals’ menu link in the top right of the screen.

Choose ‘Pro Sites’ from the dropdown menu.

Read the information on that page, scroll down and go to the Create Your Pro Site Now button, and follow the prompts.

Now, you can send your clients a unique URL with your business name in it, taking them to the VIA test.

My link is http://melaniejwhite.pro.viasurvey.org

Now, when your clients take this survey you will be sent an email letting you know that they have completed it and you will be able to log into this website and see a list of clients who taken the strengths survey, the date that they took the survey, and you’ll be able to click through to see their results. 

This is all free. 

There are other things that you can get with a paid account but you probably don’t need those things yet.

Know Your Niche, Enhance Your Marketing

Here is the really interesting thing about the data that you collect over time.

I have a couple of coaches that work in my business as licensees for an 8-week weight loss program that I developed. 

Recently, I downloaded The VIA survey data for all of our clients from that program.

Then, I made a spreadsheet that lists the top 5 strengths of the clients who have recently taken the test. And then I sorted them by coach. 

My theory is that we tend to attract people who are 80% like us and I wanted to see if this strengths data reflected that different coaches are actually attracting different kinds of clients.

And the results are pretty amazing. 

For the clients that I have coached recently around weight loss, their top 3 strengths fairness, gratitude and honesty. All of my clients have had at least two of these in their top 3 strengths.

For another coach in my business, all of her clients top 3 – 4 strengths were honesty, kindness, love and humour.

So very clearly the two of us are attracting slightly different kinds of people. Honesty is something that all of our clients have as a very high ranking strength. 

But hers are slightly different to mine. 

I also see that my clients are much more consistent in the top 3 strengths than the other coach, and perhaps that means that she works with a slightly broader range of clients or that her niche is less defined than mine.

What does this all mean, and how can we use this to improve our marketing? 

Well looking at my client list, and knowing that I seem to attract people whose top strengths are gratitude, fairness and honesty, I know more about my ideal client AND I can more likely attract them with sales copy that creates those sorts of emotions.

I can present my offer in a way that seems fair.

I can be open and frank about who it is and isn’t for, and what is or isn’t included.

I can share my gratitude for being able to help others around through the power of their transformation.

This is just a bit of an idea of how you could use this information but it’s really amazing to see these trends and to understand the power of this information.

Regularly checking in with strengths survey results and collating the data in this way might make a big difference to your ability to attract and engage potential clients. 

Summary

To wrap up today’s episode as coaches we like to help clients become self-aware and to use their strengths to experiment with and form new habits.

We use a variety of quizzes and questionnaires to create aha moments and raise self-awareness.

The VIA character strengths questionnaire is a recognised tool that many Health and wellness coaches use.

You can go to the VIA website and create your own professional account, as part of your professional positioning.

Being more self-aware helps our clients to experiment with new lifestyle habits and make those changes in a way that suits them.

In addition to that, you can collate client data in a spreadsheet and identify trends that tell you important things, like how clearly defined your niche is, the common ground between you and your ideal client, and the types of strengths and emotions that might resonate with them in your marketing copy.

I’ve included links in the transcript of this episode to help you get started on getting to know your clients better.

Ready to know your client better?

Quizzes are just one of many tools that can make your coaching business easier and more effectictive. If you’re truly ready to break old habits and make your life easier I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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Eppisode 92: Feeling Connected and Creating Clients

If you are finding solo business hard, and want to feel more connected and create clients through networking, this episode is for you. We explore five ways to start building professional and personal networks to achieve these aims.

When you work in an office as part of a team, you get a sense of connection each day as you interact with others and share ideas, jokes or brainstorm work problems.

But when you start your own business, things can be a little bit different.

Some people run their business from within another business such as a wellness clinic or studio, and so they experience that much-needed peer interaction.

But what happens when you are flying solo, and operating from home?

We need a way to feel connected and supported in business so that we can find the motivation, energy, confidence and enthusiasm to persist.

On top of that, building professional and personal networks is a wonderful way to meet potential clients and referral partners who can send qualified referrals your way.

Let’s look at the various ways that solo business owners can build networks.

Joining a Health Professional Network 

Allied Health professionals often have either formal or informal meetings, social events and/or online groups for the purpose of networking, referring and collaborating.

Their meetings are typically monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly.

By reaching out to the Allied Health professionals in your area and catching up for a cup of coffee or brief Zoom introduction, you can quickly find out which ones are ‘your kind of person’ and find out where and how these professionals network in your local area.

If you are a member of the Coaching Success Accelerator, you can find a downloadable, step-by-step process for reaching out to Allied Health Professionals.

  • Action step: make a list of 10 practitioners in your local area, relevant to your niche or specialty area of coaching, and phone or email to book a time to chat.

You might also like to listen to episode 74 where I do a deep dive into how to build a referral network with Allied Health Professionals.

Also, check out episode 65 which is about communicating your value.

 

Allied Health professionals often have either formal or informal meetings, social events and/or online groups for the purpose of networking, referring and collaborating.

Their meetings are typically monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly.

By reaching out to the Allied Health professionals in your area and catching up for a cup of coffee or brief Zoom introduction, you can quickly find out which ones are ‘your kind of person’ and find out where and how these professionals network in your local area.

If you are a member of the Coaching Success Accelerator, you can find a downloadable, step-by-step process for reaching out to Allied Health Professionals.

  • Action step: make a list of 10 practitioners in your local area, relevant to your niche or specialty area of coaching, and phone or email to book a time to chat.

You might also like to listen to episode 74 where I do a deep dive into how to build a referral network with Allied Health Professionals.

Also, check out episode 65 which is about communicating your value.

Joining a Professional Industry Association

Every reputable profession has an industry association that acts as a voice for its members.

Their meetings are typically monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly.

Being a member of a professional association can provide opportunities to vote on important issues, but also, it lets your clients know that you work in a serious, credible profession that has a formal self-regulation process and quality standards.

Being featured on the home page of an industry association is another way for people to find you online, positioned in a professional environment.

In Australia and New Zealand, the premiere industry body is Health Coaches of Australia and New Zealand Association.

  • Action step: Contact HCANZA to enquire about membership.
  • Action step: apply to sit the NBHWC exam and become board-certified

Joining a Social Networking Group

LinkedIn is a globally-recognised platform for networking with other businesses and potential clients.

It has an advantage of being “more professional” than other social media channels, so may lend credibility and good business positioning.

You may make valuable connections for referral, collaboration or potential clients here.

There are industry-specific groups where you can network with peers in specific areas of health and wellbeing.

This is a great place to go if your niche group is a professional, entrepreneur and/or manager.

Facebook also offers support in the form of industry-specific groups, like the Students of Wellness Coaching Australia group.

  • Action step: Jump into LinkedIn, brush up your profile, and explore groups.
  • Action step: Join the Students of Wellness Coaching Australia group.[MW1] 

Joining a Local Business Network

Your local Chamber of Commerce is an active business hub where you can meet and rub shoulders with decision makers in your community.

Their meetings are typically monthly.

Depending on where you live, your local Chamber may be quite active or not so much.

In any case, it’s worth exploring the network to see who is involved, and to ask to attend a first meeting as a guest to see if it could be mutually beneficial.

Often, Chambers of Commerce have an active role in community projects, Council grants or industry-level initiatives that may be relevant to you (e.g. health related).

  • Action step: Google search your local Chamber to enquire about meeting dates, opportunities to attend and what is typically discussed

Start Your Own Group

An easy way to build professional alliances is to start your own group.

This is a good tactic for you if you are outgoing, love people and enjoy networking (otherwise it may feel like too much work – and you’re better off joining someone else’s network/group).

In a professional sense, this could be a mastermind, a specific collaboration project, or simply a peer support group.

Or even better – you can start your own Facebook or LinkedIn group to attract potential clients.  This is a bigger job than the others, but if you are ready to build a tribe of like minded people and have the energy to show up every day, this is a good option.

There are a variety of training courses that can help you do it right.

  • Action step: Consider whether you’re ready to start your own group and find a training course to help you do it right. 
  • Action step: If you are not ready, join a big group where your clients might be, and observe how it’s done.

Summary

It’s easy to feel isolated when you transition from a workplace to your own solo business.

However, I’ve listed FIVE options that you could start exploring to build professional and client networks for the purpose of feeling supported, brainstorming ideas and creating clients.

We need a way to feel connected and supported in business so that we can find the motivation, energy, confidence and enthusiasm to persist.

To get started, choose the one that feels like the best fit and make plans to join and explore what it’s like to be a member.

If that works well, schedule in the number of meetings or days you would like to attend (keep it small and simple!) and start getting into the hang of participating, contributing and collaborating.

When that’s working well, you may like to explore another option.

Now, it’s over to you.

What is your easiest and most obvious starting point?

Ready to get more connected and create clients?

It becomes a whole lot easier when you know how. If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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Episode 91: Being Authentic

If you want to be more authentic, there are three things you need to do – create courage, be honest and act with integrity.

Nearly everyone I speak to wants to be more authentic. Authenticity is something most people value, and it is a key part of building strong personal and professional relationships.

But what does being authentic mean, and what does it involve?

I created this episode to help you understand what being authentic really means, the squeamish parts of being authentic, and the three things you need to do to start being more authentic.

What is Authenticity?

Authenticity means being yourself. It’s when your actions and words are congruent with your beliefs and values.

The VIA Institute on Character describes authenticity with this statement:

“I am honest to myself and others, I try to present myself and my reactions accurately to each person, and I take responsibility for my actions.”

VIA Institute on Character 

In other words, courage, honesty, and integrity are the three skills that create authenticity.

Here’s an example of what being authentic looks like.

One day I made a biriyani for dinner. My first one ever. We ate the meal and at the end, I asked my husband how he enjoyed it.

He said, firmly but kindly, “I really appreciate the effort you went to in making dinner, but I would prefer not to have this again. I don’t really like it, but I’m glad you tried it and am thankful you took the time to make a lovely meal.”

My first reaction was to feel deflated. He saw my face drop, and we talked about the importance of honesty.

It turned out that he didn’t want to pretend to like a meal then lie to about it later. It would mean that I’d made it again, thinking he liked it, and he’d have to lie again. He might become frustrated, or resentful about that.

It totally made sense to me, and I appreciated his honesty and courage and I could see that he was genuinely speaking with empathy and giving feedback from a place of love.

This one conversation opened a whole new way of thinking and personal growth for me.

It deepened our relationship and helped me to examine my own beliefs, thoughts and actions about honesty and integrity.

It helped me to identify the skills that I wanted to develop, so I could be more authentic.

As you can see it might be easy to assume that authenticity just happens.

But it doesn’t.

It’s more than just appearing to say something nice, or honest. 

Have you heard of the smell of fear? It’s a real thing. When we are afraid, we give off chemicals that send a warning to others.

If you have any fears, doubts or lack conviction in your beliefs and values, or are ‘faking it’ or hiding something, then you will be given away by your body chemistry, posture, tone of voice and facial expressions. Your body will contradict your so-called authenticity. 

Have you ever heard people say one thing and seen them do another?

Or have you ever had the sense that someone was lying to you?

How did that feel? 

And how did that affect your opinion of that person?

Authenticity is a wonderful thing but the fact is, being authentic can be challenging.

That’s because being authentic means that you need to be honest, to speak up for yourself, to voice an opinion, perhaps to be vulnerable, to expose something or to face a challenge.

Being authentic often requires us to develop certain skills, like courage.

If building relationships is important in your business and life, then it will serve you to improve your authenticity skills.

Let’s look at the three main skills of being authentic.

Courage

In interpersonal relationships, it’s courage that allows you to name what is happening to raise awareness, acceptance and understanding.

It’s when you can express observations, feelings, needs and requests and to shake up the status quo without offending, violating, blaming, shaming, or demeaning others.

For example: I don’t like it when you do X, it makes me feel Y. I would like it if you didn’t do that around me anymore.

If you have been in a cycle of people pleasing, it can be hard to find the language of courage, especially knowing that the other person may feel sad, disappointed or angry.

It’s about being able to stay on the right side of that fine line.

And let’s be clear: people pleasing is dishonest because it usually involves pretending to be someone that you’re not to meet someone else’s needs. It involves putting your own feelings and needs aside.

As you could guess, it takes courage to break out of that cycle and say no, or to be clear about what you will or won’t, can or can’t do.

If you have been in a cycle of people pleasing, it can be hard to find the language of courage, especially knowing that the other person may feel sad, disappointed or angry.

You will also need to learn to be ok with other people’s discomfort.

But courage is a powerful skill that can transform your relationships and build personal integrity.

I recommend that to build courage, you start with some small challenging situation in your life where you want to speak up for yourself or set a boundary, or a place in your business where you need to ‘show up’. 

Choose something that is just a little uncomfortable.

Then rehearse what you will say in that situation and how you will say it in a way that is calm, rational and non-judgemental.

Then schedule that into your diary and do it. Reflect on how it felt. Reflect on what you learned.

I promise you, if you do this one small thing, and do it regularly, you will build phenomenal courage, diplomacy, self-assurance and emotional balance.

Honesty

The second part of being authentic is being honest.

Honesty goes hand in hand with courage.

It means you are speaking the truth and more broadly, it means that you are presenting yourself in a genuine and sincere way, without pretence.

The research shows that honesty achieves more than just trust and positive relationships – it also helps you to set more accurate goals – in other words, goals that reflect your true values and interests.

When you set realistic goals, you can more easily achieve them, and this in turn builds self-confidence.

Honesty can be challenging because we are often afraid of the consequences; of hurting other people’s feelings, or of letting others down.

The most important thing you can be, though, is honest with yourself. If you aren’t happy about something, or if you are living out of alignment with what you believe in, then it’s going to create more tension within you than if you lie to protect the feelings of others.

This is worth thinking about.

And the truth is, if people can’t handle your honest and tactful truth, spoken diplomatically, then they are probably not your people.

Integrity

The third part of being authentic is integrity.

Integrity is when you are who you say you are and act consistently across all areas of your life, rather than behaving differently around different people.

Integrity is when you live your life in alignment with your values, morals and ethics.

It’s been described as ‘doing the right thing, even when no-one is looking.’

In other words, integrity is a personal choice.

And it is a choice that builds confidence, courage, and authenticity.

Here’s why.

When you live with integrity, you never have to question yourself or doubt yourself. You are doing what you know is right for you. 

And when you take responsibility and are accountable for your actions, other people will trust you and respect you.

You become a role model and develop a positive reputation.

I feel that it’s easier to forgive someone’s mistakes if they have integrity, because you know that they are coming from an authentic, honest place.

Integrity directly impacts on your success in life because it improves your chance of promotion, leadership and attractiveness, generally.

Right now, think about someone you know who seems to have a lot of integrity.

How do you feel about that person?

How much do you trust them?

What is it specifically that causes you to feel this way about them?

You can hone your integrity by being clear on your core values, your decisions and by developing your strengths.

For example, if your strongest values are around family, community, contribution, love and responsibility, then it makes sense that you will cultivate thoughts and actions that align with those values.

In another example, if your strongest values are around achievement, competitiveness, courage, hard work and helping society, then it makes sense that you would cultivate thoughts and actions that align more with those values.

Neither of those two people is better than the other, they are just different.

But if person B presented to be family-oriented, but was more interested in creating ventures that helped communities, you would easily identify the incongruence between words and actions.

Similarly, if person A said that they badly wanted to get promoted at work, they might secretly rather prefer to focus on their family and loved ones, and might not be able to get the promotion they say they want.

As you can see, one of the foundations of being authentic is being self-aware.

When you understand what your values are and what drives you, then it’s way easier to act congruently and to be authentic.

When you take responsibility and are accountable for your actions, other people will trust you and respect you.

Summary

Being authentic is a wonderful way to build personal and business relationships, to feel fulfilled, and to follow your purpose.

But it’s more than just saying certain things or acting in a way that impresses others.

Being authentic requires three core skills; courage, honesty and integrity.

When you are self-aware, and act consistently with your values across all areas of life, with honesty, you are well on the way to being authentic.

Ready to be more authentic?

When you understand what your values are and what drives you, then it’s way easier to act congruently and to be authentic. If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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Episode 83: Connection

Humans need connection to survive. Let’s look at the three ways you can increase your connection so that you can be more resilient and calm in these trying times.

At a time of global lockdown and enforced isolation, we may need to make more effort to connect, and to find creative ways to connect.

Why? Because connection is directly related to longevity, resilience & wellbeing and, let’s face it – we all need a bit of that.

In the so-called ‘Blue Zones’, the areas where there are more centenarians than anywhere else in the world, social connection is one of four essential pillars within the magic formula for longevity.

Today I want to talk about connection – what it is, and how to do it more effectively.

According to the Blue Zone model, Connection is one of the four essential pillars, and there are three parts to connection:

  1.     Belonging (some sort of faith-based community)
  2.     Loved ones first (families come first)
  3.     Right tribe (choose social circles that support healthy behaviours)

Let’s explore each of these, and I invite you to consider which elements you have access to right now and how you can draw on these to stay calm and build resilience in these uncertain times.

Belonging

Belonging is to do with a feeling of being connected to something bigger than yourself, when you transcend the day to day goals, feel alive and more interconnected.

In essence, belonging is a search for meaning. 

For some people this equates to religion or spirituality but for others it’s about that connection that can be found via music, altruistic pursuits, philanthropy or passion projects.

In a time when physical connection is difficult, I think that being able to create a sense of belonging within yourself is a powerful skill that can help you to stay calm and build resilience, and to escape the anxiety of what’s going on.

I invite you to ask yourself a couple of questions. 

Where does your sense of belonging come from – a higher power, or a higher calling, or both?  

What sorts of feelings does that connection create within you?

Loved ones

Your family and loved ones provide love, support and a framework of values. They are the people you count on, and who you respect and have shared responsibility for.

These are your primary relationships; they give you a sense of security and protection.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs says that beyond the basic human needs of food, water and shelter, humans have psychological needs that are met through both belonging and loving relationships.

Powerful tribes can transcend the bounds of physical isolation and can close the tyranny of distance.

Motivational speaker Jim Rohn said that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.

In other words, when it comes to relationships, we are greatly influenced by the people closest to us.

I think that’s because of our desire to belong (and fit in), partly because of the trust we have in our intimate relationships, and also the fact that emotions are contagious.

I’ll talk about that in a separate episode but for now, a couple of questions for you to ponder.

Which are your healthiest, positive and most robust friendships and intimate relationships, and why do you think so?

Who are the people that are most important for you to connect with in difficult times or during hardship?

Your Tribe

We are wired to belong and be part of a pack, and when we belong, it eases our sense of loneliness and isolation.

According to Seth Godin, one of our most powerful survival mechanisms is to be part of a tribe, where we contribute to and gain from a group of like-minded people.

Effective tribes have good leadership, a shared interest and a way to communicate.

But beyond that, a powerful tribe is more of a movement.

It’s a place where many people work together to seek something better, and bigger than themselves.

It transforms their shared interests into passionate goals and big visions for change, creating energy and transformation.

And in the definition provided by the Blue Zones research, tribes are about like-minded people who engage in healthy behaviours.

The more tightly-knit the tribe and its shared interests, the greater the power of a tribe.

And an effective tribe doesn’t have to be big. Sometimes small tribes can be super powerful.

How do you know that you’re part of a powerful tribe?

Well, you feel powerful and energized when you’re engaged with it.

Maybe even reading the words above, you feel this way.

Tribes can exist in real life and online.

Powerful tribes can transcend the bounds of physical isolation and can close the tyranny of distance.

Tribes can be found in Facebook Groups, LinkedIn groups, community groups, not-for-profit organisations, social causes and workplaces.

Once again, I invite you to consider two questions:

Which tribes are giving you the support you need right now?

What role do these tribes play in your motivation and your mental and emotional wellbeing?

Summary

Today I’ve discussed three aspects of connection to others – one of the pillars of longevity in the Blue Zone communities of the world.

Belonging, loved ones and tribes are all types of connections that we have access to in our daily lives, and they are more important than ever right now in helping us deal with change, uncertainty and stress.

Being able to create a sense of belonging within yourself is a powerful skill that can help you to stay calm and build resilience.

Knowing this, I encourage you to think about which of these areas might need some attention so you can get the support and nurturing you need at this moment.

I also recommend that you invest time in self-connection, because self-reliance is a powerful way to stay calm and have a sense of control when the rest of the world is in chaos.

If you have thoughts or questions about this, please connect with me on melaniejwhite.com/contact

Are you accessing enough connection?

Do you need support to create a sense of belonging within yourself? If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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Episode 78: How to Build a Referral Network with Allied Health Professionals

What is the most effective way to become known and to start connecting with potential clients?

By building a referral network with Allied Health professionals. Here’s how to get started so you can get a steady stream of referrals and build your sales pipeline.

When I work with coaches who are starting their coaching business, the first question they ask is ‘how do I get clients?’ I want to talk about the most effective way to become known and to start connecting with potential clients – by building a referral network with Allied Health professionals.

When you start a business, the first thing you need to do is start marketing.

But what is the best place and way to START marketing?

To answer that, let’s acknowledge that there are three main parts to marketing your business:

  1. Becoming known
  2. Connecting and engaging, and
  3. Making offers

Working in an industry where quality and credibility are essential, Health and Wellness Coaches can gain a huge advantage when starting their businesses by networking with allied health practitioners.

It takes time to build rapport and relationship in allied health, but these specific relationships will help you to build the most meaningful connections.

And if you start building your networks when you start your business, you will more easily build qualified referrals and fill your sales pipeline.

In my local coaching business, I networked with GP’s in the startup phase of my business and involved them in the development of my program approach, and within 2 years was being listed on GP care plans and was referred clients on a regular basis.

Let’s take a step back and explore what all this means and involves, so you can start building your own relationships with allied health practitioners.

It Starts with Trust

Even when someone is ready, willing and able to get help with their health and wellbeing, they will generally only buy from someone they know, like and trust.

As a new business owner, you may not yet have that trust and connection, and that’s why a referral network is so important.

As a new business owner, you may not yet have that trust and connection, and that’s why a referral network is so important.

Further, consider how much more weight an Allied Health Practitioner’s referral has, compared with a referral from a friend or family member.

People see medical and health professionals as trustworthy and reliable, and that sentiment transfers to you as a referral partner.

It therefore makes sense to start building Allied Health relationships early on in your business, so you can position your business as credible, professional and reputable.

 

Referrals Build Referrals

An easy way to get referrals from Allied Health practitioners is to meet and network with them and refer people you know to them.

Even if you don’t have any clients, you can become their client, or refer people you know to certain practitioners.

Do this and they will get to know you and will more likely want to reciprocate.

Which local practitioners could you use the service of and refer people to?

Networks Build Collective Knowledge

When you maintain your professional networks and relationships, you enjoy an added benefit of keeping your finger on the pulse with developments in your area, and in the health industry more generally.

For example, I recall a Medicare Local meeting that I attended in my Shire.

I had the chance to network with Allied Health professionals I knew, meet new practitioners in the area, learn about some of the common problems our sector was facing generally in terms of funding, information sharing gaps and key client issues (some of which I could help with) and, I was able to make a couple of useful contributions to this meeting.

I learned very quickly that these sorts of events were worth attending and helped me to support other practitioners while also building trust in my network and identifying new business opportunities.

In addition, as Allied Health practitioners came to know me better, they understood how I helped people, and could send clients to me that were the right kind of client for my niche with the exact problem I helped to solve.

As they say in marketing, I was getting pre-qualified client referrals who were suited to my program and to my way of working.

The impact of this was to increase my sales conversion rate such that around 90 – 95% of all enquiries would buy from me.

The credibility and respect attached to Allied Health referrals may be as good or greater than referrals from the general public and, they are likely to be qualified leads.

How to Build a Referral Network With Allied Health Professionals

Here are five steps to getting started with your Allied Health Network.

  1. Get professional business cards printed with contact details and website/social media links (ideally LinkedIn)
  2. Develop your professional identity and a clear, simple elevator pitch-style overview of who you help, what you do, and how you deliver that (see the Coaching Success Accelerator, Unit 1, for a step-by-step process)
  3. Visit www.healthdirect.gov.au/Australian-health-services to identify health services in your local area and make a list of those relevant to your services and niche.
  4. Decide on how you will approach Allied Health professionals to make contact – for example, would you:
  •   send a letter,
  •   phone to request an in person meeting,
  •   book an appointment as a client
  •   attend an Allied Health event, or
  •   approach a chronic disease organisation that relates to your niche?

5.  Start scheduling appointments and reaching out to those professionals to introduce yourself and discuss a referral process that suits you both.  They may have something in place that they use, or you could develop something together.

Summary

Referrals are a great way to start and build your business.

The credibility and respect attached to Allied Health referrals may be as good or greater than referrals from the general public and, they are likely to be qualified leads.

If you start building your networks when you start your business, you will more easily build qualified referrals and fill your sales pipeline

That means you can convert a higher percentage of enquiries to sales.

Further, you get to keep your finger on the local and industry pulse and help other practitioners, plus identify business opportunities.

What are you waiting for?

It’s time to follow a simple, five-step process to building your referral network so you can generate a steady stream of enquiries to fill your programs and sales pipeline.

Ready to build networks with Allied Health professionals?

 Give your business the head start it deserves! If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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Episode 77: Three Ways to Be a More Compassionate Coach

Learn how to be a more compassionate coach so that you can maintain your own emotional and energy in the session, AND help your clients get into more of a creative, optimistic and motivated state.

If you are a coach, especially a new coach, then sooner or later you will learn that your clients will show up in various states of excitement, fatigue and motivation.

Sometimes they’ll come into the session feeling flustered and agitated.

Sometimes they’ll show up serene and calm.

Sometimes they’ll show up stuck, demotivated and negative.

And unless you have a way of facing whatever comes up, you will probably struggle to maintain your own focus, energy and sense of self-confidence in that session.

You might take their emotions personally, or you could start feeling like you need to ‘give them something’ or ‘fix them’ by the end of the session. 

But none of those are true.

What is true is that emotions are contagious.

So when a client shows up in any given state, you need to be present in your own space, resilient, and able to meet them where they are at.

If you want to remain neutral, open, objective and empathetic – to be focused and in the moment, thinking only of the client’s agenda….

…..then you need to know how to show up to the session the right way AND how to handle a client’s negative emotions in your coaching sessions.

This episode explores three ways to be a more compassionate coach, so you can do just that.

Why Emotional Balance Matters

Your emotional state has an enormous impact on your brain’s capacity for learning.

More specifically, if you or your client go into a session feeling frazzled, self-critical, angry, sad, exhausted or frustrated, or any other negative emotion, then it reduces the ability to learn new skills, listen, take in knowledge and remember things.

If you are thinking things like “I’m no good” or “I don’t know what to say – help!” then you will bring your focus to that and be less present, attentive and focused.  

Using self-compassion and compassion are great ways to maintain your own emotional and energy in the session, AND help your clients get into more of a creative, optimistic and motivated state.

If your client is verbalising things like “I’m no good”or “I failed”, then they will bring their focus and attention to what isn’t working and their negative feelings, effectively sapping brain resources and becoming stuck.

Our prefrontal cortex is impaired by negative emotions, and this stifles creativity, cognitive ability, curiosity and strategic thinking.

And unless you manage this properly, you risk being sucked into the vortex of your – or your client’s – emotions!

When I started coaching, I sometimes took on the client’s state at the start of the session. 

Sometimes I took their emotions home with me or expected the worst from some sessions when I had clients who were stuck or overly negative.

This didn’t do me OR the client any favours. 

It distracted me from their agenda. And finally, one day, I had a powerful aha moment after feeling particularly miserable – that these feelings were all about me and how I felt, and I needed to switch into focusing on the client instead!

I needed to develop some strategies to help me get into that ‘all about the client’ headspace so I could truly serve them as a coach.

When you and your client are able to be emotionally neutral or positive, your prefrontal cortex is activated and you are both more ready, willing and able to listen, reflect and learn.

You will be calm and present, mindful and truly hear the needs so you can respond appropriately.

Your client will remember more and be able to come up with more of their own solutions. 

And when a client starts talking about positives and opportunities, it gives you an opportunity to broaden and build those positive emotions so that your client gets more out of the session.

I’m sure you can see why emotional balance matters for both the coach AND the client.

As the coach, your priority is to learn how to manage your own fears, insecurities and inadequacies, and to be able to handle your client’s emotional state, however they show up to the session. 

So let’s talk about how to be a more compassionate coach.

Using self-compassion and compassion are great ways to maintain your own emotional and energy in the session, AND help your clients get into more of a creative, optimistic and motivated state.

Self-Compassion Being Skills – How You Show Up

The first thing you can do to be a more compassionate coach is to show up to each session with a compassionate coaching presence.

The being skills of compassion are warmth, patience, mindfulness, calm and empathy.

Showing up with these skills helps you to be fully present for your client, and to put your own beliefs, judgements and bias aside so you can truly focus on their needs, wants and agenda.

I would like to share the process I use for building self-compassion.

This really helps me to avoid being sucked into my client’s energy and emotions and get into a more compassionate headspace, so I can be present and maintain the client’s agenda.

Here are the FOUR things I do to build and maintain the being skills of self-compassion:

  1. I work with my own coaches for my own personal development
  2. I use a pre-session ritual, and
  3. I intentionally practice my being skills. 
  4. I manage my own emotions through compassionate self-coaching.

I am always banging on about working with a coach, so for now, I just want to talk about the last three of these things.

Let’s start with pre-session rituals. 

1. Pre-Session Rituals

There are LOTS of different things you can do as a pre-session ritual to help you develop the skills of compassion. 

Here are a few ideas:

  • Spend 5 – 10 minutes meditating (e.g. Headspace app)
  • Spend 5 minutes doing a breathing exercise e.g. 4 7 8 breathing exercise
  • Take a short walk in nature, standing upright, striding purposefully and breathing deeply
  • Visualise yourself being present 
  • Listen to calming music

Basically, you are looking for any ritual that quiets the inner voice and brings you into a calm, present state.

What could you do to relax and become present?

What would best suit your learning style?

What equipment, resources or tools would you need?

2. Intentionally Practising The Being Skills of Self-Compassion

Here’s a fact – when you radiate warmth, patience, mindfulness, calm and empathy, then you will show up with compassion AND those feelings will rub off on your clients.

Remember, emotions are contagious!

Your clients will be better equipped to settle down, let go of the past, to accept themselves and to feel self-compassion.

Then, they will be more able to make peace with their challenges and move forward.

If you are self-compassionate, you will be better equipped to help them zoom out of any emotional reactions so they can objectively review events and see things as they are, and start seeing opportunities for change. 

Here’s what I do to intentionally practice the being skills of self-compassion.

  1. At the start of each calendar month, I choose a being skill I would like to focus on.
  2. I write that in my diary.
  3. I find at least one opportunity each day to intentionally practice that skill in a conversation with a friend or family member.
  4. I reflect on that skill before a coaching session and look for opportunities to bring it into the session, to either
  • Help a client move into a neutral place, or
  • To help a client to broaden and build on a positive moment.

This is my personal practice – what would you do to strengthen your being skills?

3. Managing Your Own Thoughts – Being Self-Compassionate

Those of you who know me know that I am a big advocate of self coaching using the Model that Brooke Castillo created.

That is about changing your internal dialogue – to stop catastrophizing, criticising and blaming – so that your self talk becomes more neutral and factual.

I can’t stress enough how important this is. 

The analogy is that you are learning a new language – one that is more empathetic, nurturing and compassionate.

You can learn more about the model at the Life Coach School Podcast.

So the first thing I do to be more self-compassionate is to use the Model to rewire my thoughts.

The second thing I do is to use the tools of self-compassion both as a regular practice and in those moments that I feel emotional pain.

You can learn more about self compassion in episode 76 and you can visit self-compassion.org for some useful tools 

My practice for those more intense emotional moments of suffering is as follows:

  1. I watch my self talk
  2. I catch my inner critic in the act, calling me a name, judging me
  3. I practice self-kindness by replacing my negative thought with something kind – and to do this effectively, I imagine that I’m talking to a friend who felt like this
  4. I remember that other people feel like this. I consider others I know who have suffered.
  5. Then, I bring myself to the present moment by focusing on my breath, or even better, something in nature.

I find that nature helps me to zoom out and get perspective, to feel gratitude and then warmth, and to become calm again.

Summary – Charity Begins at Home

To wrap things up, I ask the question – how can we show up with empathy for our clients, and put judgement aside, if we can’t be compassionate with ourselves?

I truly believe that charity begins at home.

If you want to be a more compassionate coach, then you need to do two things: 

  1. To manage your own emotions and self compassion, and
  2. To show up with compassionate being skills in your coaching sessions with clients.

When you radiate warmth, patience, mindfulness, calm and empathy, then you will show up with compassion AND those feelings will rub off on your clients.

I described my own practice of four things that I do to build self-compassion and compassion:

  1. Working with my own coach
  2. Using pre-session rituals to enhance my being skills for my client’s benefit
  3. Intentionally practicing being skills every month, focusing on one at a time
  4. Managing my own thoughts with self-coaching and self-compassion tools and practices.

If you would like to become more self-compassionate, visit melaniejwhite.com and click the Free Chat page, to enquire about a good fit session with myself or another coach in your area.

Ready to be a more compassionate coach?

Both coaches and clients are better off with compassionate coaching! If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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Episode 76: The Importance of Self-Compassion

More than ever before, we need a reliable tool to manage our inner critic, judgement, negative thinking and the opinions of others. This is self-compassion, and here’s how to start using it.

In case you have been living under a rock, I wanted to let you know that we are living in a very hyper critical time.

We have become addicted to the internet with all it’s catastrophizing news headlines, controversial click-bait and it’s social forums and soapboxes. 

Of course there are plenty of great things on the internet too.

.

But these great things are book ended by the extremes – beautiful people trying to outdo each other, and the dark corners where bullies, trolls and critics lurk.

As it turns out, even the most resilient amongst us can get sucked into the extreme ends of the internet in just a few clicks.

We can start questioning ourselves, doubting ourselves, or even judging ourselves.

I want to be clear with you – all of this happens in real life too.

But on the internet it happens faster, more broadly, and 24 hours per day.

That’s why now, more than ever, I think self compassion is so important. It’s a tool we can all use and benefit from, and it is a powerful antidote to the mental curveballs that we experience in our daily lives.

I want to walk you through the three elements of self-compassion today; discuss why it’s important, help you work out how self-compassionate you are and take some simple steps to bolster your resilience.

If it doesn’t feel good, then why do we criticize ourselves?

We humans are a lot like dogs in the way we behave and our social hierarchy.

Some dogs are aggressive and want to be the alpha dog. Other dogs are less confident and they roll over to expose their belly.

So self-criticism is a way of fitting in, even if it’s at the bottom of the pecking order.

When we criticize ourselves, it’s actually a submissive, safety behaviour that helps us to be accepted in social circles.

If we are submissive and self-critical, it might appease the bully or garner sympathy so that someone will tell us that we’re not as bad as we think we are. 

When we are being self-critical, we are simply saying – ‘I don’t want to be rejected or abandoned.’ We are trying to save ourselves.

But as you can hear, this is a pretty unhealthy and uncomfortable way of dealing with internal and external criticism.

Luckily there is another, healthier option that makes way more sense – self-compassion.

What is self-compassion?

Psychologist Kristen Neff has done most of the work into self-compassion – a powerful tool for emotional resilience, helping us to cope with the good and bad around us. 

There are three main parts to self-compassion:

  1. Self-kindness (instead of self-judgement)
  2. Common humanity (instead of withdrawal and isolation)
  3. Mindfulness (instead of overthinking).

It is essentially a process to help you stop judging and evaluating yourself altogether.

It’s a way to stop labeling yourself and the things you do as good or bad – and to simply accept things with an open heart. 

It means we can show ourselves the kindness that we would show a good friend, and to treat ourselves with more respect and acknowledgement.

I want to explain these concepts by exploring why self compassion is important – especially right now. 

Why is self-compassion important?

At this time more than any other, you are being constantly bombarded by conflict and catastrophizing and many other things that cause you to have an emotional response.

Back in the old days you were only exposed to the people you saw each day, and printed advertising and TV.

Now we have an added layer – the 24/7 barrage of the internet.

When we are being self-critical, we are simply saying – ‘I don’t want to be rejected or abandoned.’ We are trying to save ourselves.

We get sucked in by intriguing headlines like these few I found online today:

“Mum’s baby ‘mistake’ angers” 

“Belle Gibson’s sob story in a letter” or even

Trump Sparks Outrage by Quoting Emerson to Refer to Himself as “the King”

The intrigue ropes you in, and then you enticed into getting emotional – into having an opinion at the least, or making a judgement and taking sides at the most – even better – to comment at the bottom of the story and add your 2c worth.

After all, Google ranking, right? That’s the online newspaper’s agenda – readership and reaction.

But how does that leave you feeling? Happy? Light? Resilient?

Nope.

The fact is, more than ever before there is a buffet of triggers for negative thoughts and feelings, comparison and self judgement on the internet.

But you don’t have to get sucked into ANY this stuff.

Managing your exposure is obviously important. You can choose which media you follow and how often, and that’s a discipline worth having.

In addition, you can learn the skills of self-compassion for those times that you get drawn into emotionally challenging situations.

You can learn to be more gentle with yourself, more accepting of others, and understanding that the only person you can control is yourself (what a relief!).

You can notice that others feel like you do, too. You are not alone. There is that common experience that somehow eases the suffering.

And you can dial down catastrophizing and overthinking so you can be present, mindful and more at peace, calmer and more resilient.

To be self-compassionate, we must first realise that negative emotions are part of the human experience and to know that we can have authority over them.

When you can notice and accept negative emotions with kindness and be open to feeling them and letting go, you will experience many benefits.

More emotional stability.

More rational thinking. 

More love. 

Better relationships. 

Better decision making. 

Better coping skills. 

Less stress and anxiety. 

More resilience.

Imagine how your life would be different if you were more self-compassionate.

Imagine how much less drama there would be, less second-guessing and insecurity.

Imagine how much more self-confident you’d feel.

How other people’s stuff would roll off you like water off a duck’s back.

How you would have more empathy for others, more energy for your loved ones, more joy, and a greater sense of satisfaction, meaningful connection and self-love.

That’s what self-compassion can create.

How self-compassionate are you?

Kristen Neff has a free self-compassion test on her website.

You can take that test, but for now I will ask you six of the questions from this test.

  1. How often are you disapproving and judgemental about your flaws and inadequacies?
  2. When you’re feeling down, how often do you approach your feelings with curiosity and openness?
  3. How often are you intolerant toward your own personality traits that you think are negative?
  4. When you fail at something important to you, how often do you try to keep things in perspective?
  5. When something painful happens, how often do you blow the incident out of proportion?
  6. When you’re suffering, how often are you kind to yourself?

How did you go?

In an ideal situation, your scores for the positively worded questions were higher, and your scores for the negatively worded questions were lower.

The online test goes into more detail and gives you ratings in specific areas of self-kindness, self-judgement, common humanity, isolation, mindfulness, over-identification and an overall score. 

Whether you take the test or not, maybe you want to build more self compassion!

Here are three easy ways.

Three easy ways to build

self-compassion

1. Loving kindness meditation is a way of connecting to yourself in a loving and kind way.

Taking just 10 minutes once or twice per week for guided loving kindness meditation can help you build a resilience bank that you can draw on when you are feeling low.

Being proactive about this exercise can help to train your brain with more positive messaging as a default position.

2. Journalling or self coaching is an easy way to get your thoughts and feelings out on paper.

When we see what we are thinking and feeling, it’s easier to stand back from that and be empathetic. 

It’s easy to note the exaggeration and to pull back from that, to notice and re-frame faulty or unhelpful thinking patterns and beliefs.

3. Ask yourself some powerful questions.

I am a firm believer that the way to solve any problem is by asking a question.

When the chips are down, you can ask yourself – How could I shift into compassion? 

What might I say to a friend who feels like this? 

What would that feel like? 

How would that change things?

Questions trigger the logical, factual parts of your brain, so they are a useful way to pull back from the emotional heat of the moment and to start thinking more rationally and objectively.

Questions are a powerful way to solve the inner critic. It can be useful to have some questions written down in advance, so that you can refer to it in such a moment.

Summary

Our modern lives are busy and we are surrounded by catastrophe, judgement and bullying, which can affect even the most resilient people.

Those unfortunate situations can bring out the worst in us, in both feelings and behaviours.

But we can rather create better relationships, connections, emotional balance, resilience, peace and joy in our lives through the use of self-compassion.

The three elements are:

  1. Self-kindness
  2. Common humanity, and
  3. Mindfulness

You can take Dr Neff’s online test to measure your own levels of self-compassion.

We can show ourselves the kindness that we would show a good friend, and to treat ourselves with more respect and acknowledgement.

Three practices to increase self-compassion include:

  1. Loving kindness meditation
  2. Journalling, and
  3. Powerful questioning.

If you would like to study self-compassion with me in March 2020, please visit melaniejwhite.com/habitology to sign up for the Habitology Membership.

Ready to be more self compassionate?

You’ll love the benefits it will bring into your life! If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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Episode 65: Discover and Communicate Your Value

This episode is dedicated to the people out there who do amazing work but struggle to sell it because they have trouble describing the value of their work.

It breaks my heart to see skilled, talented and passionate people with so much to give, but finding it hard to get people to engage with them or buy from them.

I want to dig into this and give you some tools to discover and communicate your value.

Why Is Knowing The Value Of Your Work So Important?

FIrst and foremost, I think it’s pretty obvious that if you believe in and truly feel the value of what you do, then you will have the confidence to do it well, promote it and talk to people about it.

Your words will flow with ease. 

You feel sure of yourself and confident to describe your services.

Secondly, understanding and believing in the value of what you do will help you to 100% nail your marketing.

When you understand the value of your work, it will be EASY to develop very, very clear and compelling the words, messages, connection statements, elevator pitches, advertisements.

So, why do we get stuck?

We Are All Professionals

When we become skilled professionals, we all get stuck in this world of our own jargon. 

What I mean is this, when you learn how to do something and the methodology behind it then those are the things that stick in your mind and those of the things that you communicate. 

I remember driving on a holiday with my parents and boyfriend once. I’d just finished a university assignment on banksia woodland.

Your audience isn’t as educated as you are on those subjects and they might be 2, 5 to 10 years behind you and experience. 

And as we drove toward our holiday spot, I looked out the window and said something like, “wow, look at that low, open banksia woodland with a shrub understorey.”

Of course, my parents and boyfriend all laughed out loud. They even cried with laughter. I was SO mortified. But you get the idea. 

I was talking in my language about the bush, and they had no idea what I was going on about.

University Versus Kindergarten Knowledge

So here’s the lesson for you. Your audience isn’t as educated as you are on those subjects and they might be 2, 5 to 10 years behind you and experience. 

They’re not a scientist. They’re not a practitioner. They’re not heavily geeking it up on your area of interest.

It’s like you’re at the University level of knowledge in a particular area and your potential clients are at the kindergarten level in terms of their understanding and knowledge of that subject area. 

That’s a big reason why you’re struggling to communicate your value.

What that means is that you have to take a step back to the old you. 

You have to go right back to where you were five or 10 years ago or at least to the absolute  beginning of your journey and explore what you are feeling and thinking then, to reflect on why you were studying that, and what you needed and wanted. 

This segues into the second reason you’re finding it hard to communicate.

You Need Emotion, Not Logic

When you are in your geeky learning brain, university knowledge mode, you are using logic and jargon to talk about what you do.

But 90% of anybody’s buying decision is based on the emotion they feel when they interact with you.

You need to get out of your logical thinking and onto your passionate, emotionally heightened and ranty soap box to get people interested, engaged and believing that you are the person to help them.

This is known as ‘sharing your why’ and it’s the most powerful driving force in marketing.

That’s because your why contains your values, motivators, beliefs, and possibly life experience – all wrapped up in an emotive story.

That’s what you need to tap into.

If you believe in and truly feel the value of what you do, then you will have the confidence to do it well, promote it and talk to people about it.

Tapping Into Your Why

My friends, the value of what you do is in the result that it gives the person who’s buying it. 

Right now, I invite you to cast your mind back to the person you used to be and what you were desperate for and how much value that brought to your life. 

Think about how you would describe that value, how you would define it. 

Go back to the reason why you studied this in the first place.

That’s where your ideal client is right now, and doing this will give you some clues as to the value THEY are looking for.

Now I want to talk you through a little two-part exercise to help you to get the words right for this. 

A Two-Part Exercise

I want you to imagine that you are your customer. 

I want you to imagine that you are the you of a few years ago. 

Part 1 – Reflections

Now imagine that you are about to buy your service as a customer what is the value that you want to get out of buying your own service. 

  • Why are you buying that service? 
  • What would it mean to you if you could get the result that you wanted? 
  • What is that result? 
  • What will that allow you to do in future? 

That’s the first part of the exercise. Now let’s go to the second part. 

Part 2 – Reflections

Imagine that you have just finished using the service that you’re selling. Pretend that you’re the customer and you’ve completed this program or whatever it is.

  • How are you feeling right now? 

Write that down. 

Imagine you are giving yourself a testimonial.

  • What were you doing before the program? 
  • What did you achieve in the program? 
  • How is your world transformed now, because of that?
  • How do you feel? 
  • What have you gotten rid of? 
  • Describe the sense of accomplishment that you have? 

You noticed that I’m asking a lot about feelings here. And that’s because 90% of any buying decision is based in strong emotions. Logic makes up only 10% of the buying decision.

People buy results that they want and they want to feel a certain way. 

So our goal in marketing is to listen to what our customers are saying and to reflect that back. 

Summary

Hopefully there’s two part exercise has given you some ideas on the value of what you do by putting yourself in the customer’s shoes and by asking yourself how you felt before and after using the service, what you truly wanted and what you got from it. 

I hope this has been useful and if you are a coach who needs some help to dig into this and figure out how to clarify the value of what you do, so you can more effectively package, describe and sell the value of your services, join my new Facebook tribe – CoachingSuccessAccelerator. Doors are open, I’m so excited!

Ready to recognise and communicate your value?

Honouring your own journey is the key to communicating your value. If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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Episode 59: Becoming Your Future Self

This podcast is about one of the fundamental things of becoming your future self: challenging and changing your beliefs.

You’ve probably heard the saying “If you always do what you’ve always done you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”

You’ve probably also heard the saying “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”

Both of those sayings speak to the concept that if you hang onto the beliefs, habits and thoughts that you have right now then nothing is going to change.

Both of those sayings speak to the concept that if you hang onto the beliefs, habits and thoughts that you have right now then nothing is going to change.

In other words, if you want to become your future self, you have to start thinking and acting differently.

It SOUNDS easy, but your brain wants to hang onto your current beliefs, habits and thoughts because it invested a lot of energy in creating and habitualising them. 

That’s why I want to talk about this exact topic today in the podcast.

Let’s start with an understanding of what beliefs, habits and thoughts are, and then to talk about two methods to change them so that you can become your future self.

Definitions

Before we get into definitions of beliefs, habits and thoughts, let’s recap how the brain works, because this is a beautiful way to illustrate the difference between them.

When you first learn how to do something it takes a lot of focus and energy – in other words, it takes a lot of conscious thinking. 

Your brain loves learning things quickly and properly so it can turn the steps into automated habits that run on autopilot. Your brain uses your thoughts as motivation and instructions to get you to take the right actions.

When you practice those thoughts and actions repeatedly they become a habit.

And when something becomes a habit, your brain can switch into autopilot and save energy. 

In the recesses of your mind there is an unconscious thinking process going on to instruct all the thoughts and actions that will get you out of bed on time. 

You switch from conscious thoughts about what you’re doing into unconscious thoughts about what you’re doing. Your thoughts are still there, they’re just in the background, barely noticeable, quietly instructing what you are doing.

Here’s an example. When you are learning to drive a car, your focus is everywhere – put foot on accelerator, check mirrors, use indicator, change gears while depressing the clutch – and so on.  

But when you have mastered all those intricate steps, you can find yourself singing along with the radio as you drive and suddenly realise you are at your destination, barely remembering how you got there.

This process of forming a habit takes anywhere from 30 – 360 days, depending on the complexity of the habit. The average time to form a habit is 83 days.

And once a habit has been running on autopilot for an extended period, your brain notices the benefit or result of that habit.

From there, your mind forms a belief about that thing you’re doing.

Here’s an example. 

Let’s say that when you were a kid your mum woke you up really early in the morning. She’d say something like “Come on honey, get up, rise and shine! The early bird catches the worm.”

During this ritual your brain worked out the best way to think and act in order to get you out of bed early every day. That was reinforced by what your mum was telling you something positive about that habit.

Now if, as an adult, you are still getting out of bed early every morning, then you most likely have some beliefs about that habit and yourself. 

For example you might be saying or thinking things like “I’m a morning person” or “the morning is the best part of the day.” 

In the recesses of your mind there is an unconscious thinking process going on to instruct all the thoughts and actions that will get you out of bed on time. There is also the conscious recognition of the beliefs you have about that habit.

Watch your mind next time you get out of bed and notice what’s in your head as you get up.

So that’s the difference between conscious and unconscious thoughts, habits, and finally, beliefs.

One last nuance I want to mention is this.

Once you have formed a belief about something, your brain starts collecting evidence that your belief is true. 

Your brain filters out anything that doesn’t match with that belief. 

Your brain likes to be right. 

This is called confirmation bias. 

Changing beliefs 

Having said all that, I’m sure you can see how imagine changing your beliefs is a little bit complicated for two reasons. 

  1. You have a lot of autopilot going on. You have automatic habits and you have automatic thoughts that drive them or are caused by your habits. 
  2. You have confirmation bias. Your brain believes that what you are doing is right, is the best thing for you. And your brain hates being wrong.

What does this mean in terms of becoming your future self? 

It means you need a way to identify and then change those automatic patterns. AND, it means you might also need to challenge your perspective.

Might I just say at this point, that this is why coaching is so important. 

Most of us cannot see our own automatic thoughts and patterns. And we generally are stuck in our own perspectives. A coach can help somebody to do this work to see things differently to challenge their automatic thoughts and to become their future selves.

But there is still a lot you can do yourself to become your future self, so let’s talk about how to do that.

Begin With The End in Mind 

In his book the Seven Habits of Highly Successful People, Stephen Covey’s second success habit was to begin with the end in mind.

I want to talk to you briefly about what that means. It really means that to become your future self, you need to have a clear picture of what your future self looks like so that you know what you need to do to get there. You might want to listen to my episodes on creating a vision (#1) and on being specific (#14) both of which are relevant to this.

For now, let’s say that you have a specific view of how your future self look and feels. 

Maybe you can imagine your fitter self, or your richer self, or your more successful self, or your slimmer self, or your happier self or whatever it is for you.

I’m just talking about ONE area – pick one area of life that you’d like to change, and create a vision of your future self around that.

Once you have that idea in your mind of what you would like to be and what your future self looks and feels like you’re ready to do the work to start changing your beliefs so you can become that future version of yourself.

What Would You be Thinking?

If you want to become your future self, you need to start thinking differently. More like your future self would.

Let’s look at a few examples.

Let’s say that right now you feel like you’re overdrinking and that you want to eventually become a non-drinker. 

Right now, your thoughts might be things like:

“I’m only going to have a drink on Friday and Saturday this week.” 

Or, “I need to cut back on alcohol.” 

Or, “I feel so hung over and terrible I’m never drinking again.”

Now mentally propel yourself five years forward. Imagine that you are now your future self and that you’re a non-drinker. Pretend that you stopped drinking alcohol three years ago. 

What are your new thoughts about alcohol? 

Chances are, your non-drinking self is not thinking about alcohol at all, because you no longer drink it. It’s not even on your radar.

You’re no longer thinking about alcohol at 2pm, wondering if you’ll drink tonight or not, or whether you will be judged by others for not drinking at the party.

You will probably see other people slurring and stumbling around and think, “that used to be me. I’m so glad I’m a non-drinker. I have so much more self-control and I feel good about that.” 

Maybe your future self is quite happy to go out to a party or a dinner with others who are drinking, and when people ask if you want to drink your future self says “No thanks, I don’t drink.” 

And your future self would feel a sense of confidence, and conviction, and contentment about saying that because they really believe that it’s true.

Notice how different your future thinking patterns are compared that with what your current self thinks and believes. The dialogue is totally different. 

The same could be said about any other area of life. 

Let’s look at an example of a successful business.

Let’s say that you are struggling to get clients right now and your income is erratic.

You might be thinking, “I need clients!” or, “I wonder if I should run a Facebook ad!” 

Maybe you’re thinking “The market is saturated, nobody wants what I am selling.” Or perhaps, “That other person is so successful, maybe I should do what she is doing?” 

Or even “I wonder if I need to do more training courses.”

Now, what would your future successful business owner self be saying instead?

Probably the focus would be on quality of service and expansion.

Maybe you’d be saying things like “I wonder how I can serve my clients better.” 

Or “I would love to do a workshop on this topic that I’m really passionate about so I can share this with more people.” 

Or perhaps, “What could I do that would really help my clients to 10X their results?”

What’s interesting about this example is that both the before and after business person is striving for the same goals, but the language and feeling about the process is different.

Ok, examples aside, let’s talk about how to start taking action and getting traction with this.

In the words of Amy Cuddy, “our bodies change our minds.”

So I’d like to walk you through two ways to start becoming your future self, by tapping into the mind-body connection.

  1. Start Thinking Like Your Future Self

The easiest way to become your future self is to seed your mind with the thoughts of your future self. 

Let’s do a little exercise. 

Pretend that you are already your future self. Right now. Imagine being that person who has achieved what you want to achieve. 

Really take yourself to that place and imagine how you look, how you feel what your experience of life is every day. 

What would your future self be saying about this each day?

Notice that you will probably not be thinking about how great it is to be successful. That is the voice of your current self.

You’re probably passed that honeymoon period. You will probably be thinking about your next actions.  

Let’s use the example of body weight.

If you are currently overweight you might think to yourself, “I need to lose weight but I don’t know what to do.”

That may be a fact, but it’s unhelpful. 

So what would your future self be thinking and saying?

Maybe, “I need to schedule in three exercise sessions this week and block out my calendar”.

Or maybe, “On Sunday night, I’ll do my meal prep for the week.”

Perhaps you’d be saying “I love the way my body feels.” 

Or “Sorry, I don’t eat sugary foods, they’re not good for me.”

Your current self might be judgmental and self-critical. 

Your future self will more likely show self-compassion. 

So I want to offer that you can start speaking to yourself with compassion right now, because that judgement and self-criticism is unhelpful and will not support you taking action or achieving your goals. It will do the opposite.

In summary, consider the thoughts of your future self and say them, write them and practice them daily.

Start now. 

Start rewiring your neural pathways.

  1. Acting like your future self

Apart from the thinking work there are also the actions that your future self would be taking or not taking. 

Let’s talk about the business example. 

If you were successful in business as your future self what would be the actions that you would be taking each week?

Maybe you would use Monday morning as a big picture planning session. 

Maybe on Friday afternoon you’d be reflecting on what went well I need be planning the next week so you could totally shut off on the weekend. 

And maybe you wouldn’t be working on the weekend to be having fun instead. 

These are some of the things – the actions – that are successful business person might be taking.

What about the weight example? 

If you were at your healthy weight, the actions that you might be taking would be perhaps walking every morning when you get up as a not negotiable thing. 

Ask yourself now, if you were your future healthy self, what actions would you be taking regularly, as not negotiable actions that you were committed to?

Maybe at the supermarket you be walking past the junk food aisles because you don’t go there anymore. You’d be heading straight for the fruit and veg section.

Ask yourself now, if you were your future healthy self, what actions would you be taking regularly, as not negotiable actions that you were committed to?

Identify those actions and find a way to start now. 

Start rewiring your physiological pathways.

Summing it up

As you can see your future self is thinking and acting totally differently from how are you are right now. 

The starting point to become your future self is to simply work out what your future self might be thinking and doing and then, to start thinking and doing those things.

To do this, you will need to plug both the thinking work and the actions into your calendar as not negotiable.

You’ll need to make space for them.

This truly is a gradual, one at a time process. 

You can definitely fast-track becoming your future self, but you can’t do it all tomorrow it just doesn’t work that way. It’s too much for your brain to absorb.

Your brain takes time to create new habits – on average, 86 days. 

So the goal is to start with one thing or two things perhaps and turn those into habits stick with them consistently for 83 days at least.

Ready to become your future self?

Start the journey to become who you want to be! If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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Episode 56: 5 Steps to Engaging Icebreaker Conversations

This five step process will help you to break the ice with confidence to create strong connections and engagement.

When you start a business, one of the first things that you need to master is talking to people about what you do.

But if you’re like most people, you get nervous, flustered, and you get things wrong.

You freeze up, or you end up stumbling over your words.

Or maybe you aren’t quite sure what to say so you stand there silently, watching, wishing you could say something smart, witty or relevant.

The truth is, if you’re a new to business and networking it can feel a little bit uncomfortable, or it can feel downright uncomfortable. 

So today I want to walk you through a step-by-step process that you can use to help you to break the ice in all sorts of social and networking situations.

The goal of using this process is to feel more comfortable and confident when talking to people, making new connections and starting to generate business – and eventually become a household name!

And if you’re a coach, this is going to be easier than you think!

Let’s start at the beginning.

STEP 1 – Preparing for the Conversation

Your primary goal with this step is to feel prepared and confident before the event.

If you are going to an event to meet prospective clients or business partners, it can help you if you are feeling prepared. Feeling somewhat prepared means that you have a sense of confidence about showing up in the first place. You will more likely feel like you know what you are doing there. You will feel more comfortable knowing your place, who’s who, and what sorts of conversations you might be having.

So to prepare for the conversations you will have, there are four things you can do:

  1. Research the event or audience, 
  2. Review industry news, studies or current affairs
  3. Prepare some simple soundbites about what you do, and
  4. Establish some goals for the event.

Research the Event or Audience

It’s super easy to go online for 30 minutes and find out the history of the event, or the keynote speaker, or the organising group.

Discover what they stand for, what their mission is, and why the event is taking place.

If possible, look at the attendees list and decide who you might like to talk to. Research their background – their companies, interests and work ethic.

This is one way to feel prepared and to generate ideas for conversation.

Read the News

If you stay abreast of current affairs and latest research papers in your industry or related to your target market’s interests, you will find plenty of conversation starters. 

There are many ways you can turn the latest news or research into a conversation starter.

Here are some ideas:

  1. Apple is releasing a new iPhone in September – conversation about tech use, stress, blue light, monitoring apps.
  2. Bupa has a series of ads about self-care for mothers – conversation about the challenges of motherhood – did they get it right?

There are many ways you can turn the latest news or research into a conversation starter.

Prepare Some Soundbites

Invariably, someone will ask you why you are at the event, and possible what you do. Having some responses planned will help you navigate that part of the conversation smoothly.

If you have done your research you will have an answer to the ‘why are you here’ question.

Maybe it’s about professional development and networking.

Maybe you want to stay on top of industry trends.

Maybe you want to learn from industry experts, or about who else is out there servicing your niche.

These are all responses that could start a conversation about you. And when it comes to what you do, you need to have practiced a natural, authentic elevator pitch (a short one) that sounds aspirational but humble, and a bit like a vision.

If that engages interest, you’d have a longer elevator pitch prepared as well, to explain your mission and the benefits of what you do.

Establish Some Goals

I had a conversation with a student coach once, who was preparing for her first business networking event – a business networking lunch.

We discussed her setting some specific goals for the event so that she felt she had a specific purpose and focus.

I can’t remember her goals exactly but they were something like this:

  1. Without knowing exactly who would be there, she set a target number of people to talk to in the room – I think it was 5.
  2. She wanted to find common ground and aligned values with three local businesses who service her niche
  3. She wanted to learn from two experts about a specific topic.

As you can see these are simple goals that focus on connection and nothing else, and they evoke curiosity rather than fear.

She entered the event feeling confident and clear on how she would spend her time.

You could set goals like this or something different – it’s totally up to you.

Write down some ideas of questions you could ask, topics of interest, or the feelings you would like to have while you are there.

One thing’s for sure – when you set some goals and make a plan for the event you will feel a sense of relief, get a boost in confidence, and feel motivated about attending.

Invariably, someone will ask you why you are at the event, and possible what you do. Having some responses planned will help you navigate that part of the conversation smoothly.

STEP 2 – Set up the Conversation

Your primary goal with this step is to show up authentically.

No matter how good you are at networking, it can be difficult to start a conversation.

The goal of the conversation should always be get to know another person and to build rapport. 

If you are meeting someone for the first time, you want the other person to engage with you, to like you, and create a connection that you both value.

But we often approach these conversations the wrong way. 

Consider this for a moment.

You have just seen someone you would like to meet and you are considering your approach. You might think to yourself:

Are they going to like me?

Will they be able to connect me with clients?

Will they notice how nervous I am?

Will they be able to give me work? 

Will I be able to get my message across without seeming salesy? 

Which question should I ask next? 

What should I ask them about their business – or not?

Right now, take a step back and notice something that all of those things have in common.

The theme was this – all those thoughts and questions were all about you. And that’s the opposite way you need to be thinking.

The way to engage people and build trust and rapport is to make the conversation all about them. In other words, put your coaching skills into action!

When you shift the focus to the other person, with the idea that you have something to learn from them, then it takes away the focus on you and your nerves and needs.

Focusing on the other person raises curiosity, gratitude, warmth and empathy.

So when you are in the room and preparing to have a conversation, notice that your default  position might be fear and uncertainty, and you will need to refocus.

Think about the preparation you’ve done and focus on why you are here.

Remember that you will feel less anxious and more relaxed as you go.

If you feel awkward at any time, your fallback position is to ask a question, so the other person will speak and you get some time to think and process. 

STEP 3 – Breaking the Ice

Your primary goal with this step is to break the ice – to connect and engage confidently, authentically and with curiosity.

So, what do you say? How do you break the ice?

Think about the research you did and the goals you set. You should have a few topic ideas to get started.

For example, let’s say you are at a general business networking meeting and want to meet other businesses who also service your clients.

You could ask an icebreaker question such as:

  • What’s been the best experience you’ve had being in this group?
  • I’m curious – what inspired you to start your business in that particular area?
  • What do your clients love most about working with you?

Notice that these are all vision-style, big picture questions that invite a positive and expansive discussion.

Now let’s say that you went to a health and fitness expo and wanted to meet potential clients as you strolled around the booths and displays.

You could approach someone at a booth or who is waiting for a speaking event to start, and ask an icebreaker question such as:

  • I notice you’re checking out the fitness tights. What sport do you play?
  • I always feel so inspired at these events. What brought you here today?
  • This speaker is so amazing. What do you like best about her?

All you need to do is find someone to talk to, ask a thought-provoking question and listen carefully while the other person speaks.

Then, reflect what you hear to show you are listening.

Ask related, follow-on questions that go where the other person is taking the conversation.

If you start this way, you will break the ice, which is your primary goal. 

Now, consider how you might be able to SEE that the ice has been broken.

Certainly, body language and tone of voice will tell you if there is an authentic connection.

The person you are talking to will have relaxed body language. Their shoulders will relax. Their arms and legs will be open. Their pupils may be dilated. They may start to gesticulate. There will be a physical change in the other person.

Also, the cadence of their voice might slow down, or it may speed up if they get fired up about the topic. 

In any case, know that when you see and hear these signs, you have broken the ice and are ready to dig deeper into the conversation.

On the other hand, if you do NOT see these signs, don’t worry.

Not everyone has chemistry. You can end the conversation politely and move on, thanking them for their time and swapping cards with them.

STEP 4 – Building the Conversation 

Your primary goal with this step is to build the other person’s confidence and trust in you.

If there is a clear connection with someone, then you’ll want to build the conversation and take it deeper. 

You can ask more probing questions related to the initial conversation, or bigger picture questions. In other words, keep using your coaching skills! 

Ask for the other person’s opinions and insights.

If you have done your research and preparation, then you’ll have some background ideas and insights on the event or person that will help you come up with some insightful questions that will further the conversation.

At some point, the other person may ask you about yourself, so having a brief spiel about yourself or your business – an authentic elevator pitch – is a good idea.

At the end of the conversation you can decide where to take it.

Swapping business cards is a good start.

If you think there’s synergy worth pursuing, you can invite them to a coffee date or follow up chat.

Be specific and ask about their availability for a 30 minute chat in the next week.

Your self-confidence here will build the other person’s confidence and trust in you.

After the event, you may like to write notes on each business card you collected about the person and key points of interest.

STEP 5 – Following up

Your primary goal with this step is to demonstrate your accountability and professionalism.

If you have collected business cards from people it’s useful to follow up with them in a way that adds value.

You could, for example, send them a news article or link that they might find interesting or helpful, based on the conversation you had with them.

Or perhaps you ask if they are going to the next event, and would they like to meet beforehand for a drink.

If you discussed a coffee date or phone meeting, you can contact them the day before the arranged time to confirm it.

In either case, when you follow up proactively and with self-confidence, the other person will be impressed with your accountability and it will build their confidence in you.

This is an important outcome goal in any networking connection.

em.

The goal of the conversation should always be get to know another person and to build rapport. 

So to recap the five steps:

  1. Prepare for the specific event, what you will say, and goals, so you feel confident and ready
  2. Set yourself up to show up authentically, and ready with coaching-style conversation
  3. Break the ice and connect with confidence and curiosity
  4. Build the conversation with probing and broad questions – and build the other person’s trust and confidence
  5. Follow up promptly by adding value or to confirm – to show accountability and professionalism

Ready to master icebreaker conversations?

Try these five steps and watch your networking skills improve! If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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Episode 44: Referral and Partnership Agreements

Having done some coaching work around agreements lately, and having been involved in many in my own business career, I thought I’d dedicate an episode to how to develop a professional partnership and ultimately, an agreement.

There are five stages in initiating, developing and formalising an agreement like this and I want to walk you through them.

Initiating Agreements

1. Values Fit

Initial meeting – explore their methods, practice, their business goals, their ethos and what they stand for. Discover the common ground. 

2. Instinct

With any new relationship, it’s important to tap into your instincts right away and notice how you ‘feel’ about the other person. If it feels right, then you should listen to that instinct.

Neuroscience proves that this is not woo woo stuff. Your primitive brain (also known as the basal ganglia) allows you to quickly pick up important information needed for survival. Any sense of distrust, risk or fear is picked up quickly here. 

Then, your slower prefrontal cortex monitors what your primitive brain has learned and it to gather a more judicious “big picture” of what is going on by taking into account more history and exerting executive control over your behavior.

So if it’s all green lights at this stage, you could move on to developing an agreement with that person or business.

If you have hesitation, explore it, and ask more questions before you decide.

Developing Agreements

3. Collaborating

The next step is to start developing agreements.

In order to build trust and rapport, you need to be collaborative and transparent.

This doesn’t mean you are giving away all your methodologies and customer lists and trade secrets.

What this means is that you start a series of back and forth conversations about the terms of how you will work together.

Along the way, use your intuition and keep testing that you are aligned. Iron out any creases along the way and explore all avenues of the relationship.

Ask lots of ‘what if’ questions.

Some questions to consider could include:

The goal of the relationship:

  • Is it about simply referring clients and cross-promoting?
  • Are you working as affiliates?
  • Are you packaging up your individual services?
  • Are you joint-venturing on a program or event?

What is included? 

How aligned are the individual services?

Who owns what? 

What happens when you start selling?

Who owns the leads?

4. Be Forthright

At this stage of the relationship, keep your eyes wide open and identify any niggles along the way, and explore them while they are still just niggles.

Keep your instincts fired up.

Use your character strengths of fairness, judgement, collaboration and also prudence. 

Prudence is important because it’s tempting to get all excited about the opportunity and rush in, but you need to let your pre-frontal cortex do its work and consider this carefully.

Formalising Agreements

When you feel that everything is kosher and you are ready to formalise your agreement, I’d advise that you put it in writing.

5. Create A Clear Agreement

While I’m not a lawyer, I’ve written a LOT of proposals and agreements and understand there are a few key things you need to include.

Please consider this general guidance only and seek advise from a contracts lawyer to ensure what you have developed is suitable for your unique situation.

Four essential things that all agreements need to include:

 

1. Naming the parties involved, using their formal business names.

You start there, by saying this is an agreement between X and Y, where X is the name of business 1 and Y is the name of business.

2. Definition of terms

In this section, you are listing the standard words or terminology that you use throughout the agreement. 

For example if you are collaborating on a workshop, you would define the word ‘workshop’ as a term in inverted commas. 

Then you would ONLY use that word throughout the agreement when talking about the workshop. Don’t use any other variations of the word.

The same goes for other things that you are talking about regularly, such as ‘the premises’, or ‘the list’ or anything else that is to be discussed as the main part of the agreement, such as a specific product, service, service provider, venue or staff. 

Keep this simple, perhaps only 3 – 7 terms.

3. Specifics of agreement

This is where you list everything you agreed on verbally at the collaboration stage.

Common things to cover include:

  • Intellectual property (who owns what)
  • Privacy
  • Confidentiality around methods
  • Fees payable
  • The period of the agreement (e.g. 6m to 1 year, single event?) as defined by a specific date range
  • How you represent each other in the public eye
  • Termination

 

Arbitration offers a flexible and efficient means of resolving disputes; note that the decision is binding. 

Be sure to make succinct, simple statements that clearly state the agreed intention.

It’s good to also mention a commitment to seek help via arbitration in the event of dispute.

Arbitration is a process in which you present arguments and evidence to a dispute resolution practitioner (the arbitrator) who helps you to resolve the issue. It’s a private process. Arbitration offers a flexible and efficient means of resolving disputes; note that the decision is binding.

 

4. Name, signatures and dates

Lastly you want to put a section for both parties names, signatures and the date the agreement was signed.

Right now you might be thinking that a written agreement is overkill, or too formal, or confronting.

And it may feel like that.

But here’s the thing: when you put your agreement in writing, you both show intent to do the right thing and professionalism.

You both show your commitment to the project and to uphold your end of the bargain.

And finally, there is every likelihood, you could totally make it work or fix any issues that come up and have a successful venture.

If things went wrong you could probably walk away unscathed.

But the thing is, there is a small chance that things could go pear-shaped and someone could sue you or try to, and if that happens, your written agreement becomes part of the evidence in a court of law showing how well each party upheld their side of the agreement.

 

Ready to build strong partnerships?

Be clear about what your agreement is and feel the difference. If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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Episode 10: 9 of the Best Reasons to Target a Niche

9 of the Best Reasons to Target a Niche

Today I want to dive deep into why you might want to target a niche. 

Why define and target a niche in your business?

Here are 9 of the best reasons I have:

1. Your niche sets the scene for everything else you do in your business.

Most people in business make the newbie mistake of rushing into a big marketing effort but before you can market anything and sell anything you need to know what you want to sell, and who you are selling it to, how it’s going to help that person, what you’re going to charge them and why it’s great value. When you know those things you are ready to start marketing with confidence. Then you get clarity on what sorts of services you’re going offer, how you are going to market to them, where you are going to find them and what sort of business systems you’ll need.

2. Targeting a niche allows you to stand out and be known.

There’s a saying that goes: “If you don’t stand fo something, you stand for nothing”. If you want to be different to every other service or coach out there, targeting a niche allows you to become a specialist, you become known for one thing. It helps you build a profile, and be recognised. It’s much easier to be known and attract clients that way

3. Jack of all trades, master of none.

If what you do and the results you offer aren’t clear, then your potential client listening will question your ability to be good at those things. It raises questions of trust. Most people when seeking help are trying to solve one specific problem. You will be easier to find if you have a clear message. You can position as a specialist in one area, it creates trust, and makes you easier to find.

4. You can’t multi-task problem solving.

Remember that coaches work on helping people change their habits. It takes about 68 days to form one habit. That’s the average according to research. As a coach, you want to help people get real tangible results in the time frame that you are working with them, which will typically 6-12 weeks. They are not going to get the results they are after if you try to throw the kitchen sink at them. If you help a client work on one issue and maybe 2-3 habits around that one issue, they will get far better results than if you try to do everything and cram it in. Keep out the kitchen sink and focus on that one thing. That’s what targeting a niche is all about.

 

5. Your vibe attracts your tribe.

Whether you like it or not, you are going to attract a certain type of person. Normally that person is going to be pretty much like you, I say around 70-80% like you in terms of their age, values, journey. If you work out who YOU are and therefore who you are most likely to attract, you are going to find it much easier to find loyal clients who love you. This is especially important in coaching, where relationships and personal service and chemistry are everything in terms of your business success. Take the straight line approach, and start looking for the people who you naturally attract.

6. You can more easily create high value services.

People buy for 2 reasons: they buy because they want to solve a problem or they buy for pleasure. IOf you are working as a health or wellness coach, your are working to help solve your problem. Imagine if you went to see someone who knew exactly what your circumstances were and what you were going through and exactly what works. How would you feel? This is what I mean by high value services. If you can tailor your coaching, your tools, the resources that you use, the types of programs and services that you offer to a particular niche, they are going to feel as though you are servicing them and their specific needs. The perceived value of what you offer is going to be much higher than if you offer something general that might not tick all the boxes for them. That’s really important when it comes to pricing and earning what you want to earn in your business.

7. Finding a niche allows you to target your marketing and save you time money and the heartache of rejection.

When you know exactly who your ideal client is, you can go directly to where your client is and know that I higher proportion of people are going to take up your services because they are your kind of people. Simply by focussing on the people that you can most likely help and who are most likely to engage with you, you will feel more confident because you will get a greater response rate and more engagement, more buy in. It will save you time, money and heartache. Marketing becomes much easier when you target a niche

8. Most of a buying decision is based on feelings.

When you can relate to your ideal client and tell their story authentically, they will want to buy from you because they feel that sense of rapport and relationship. By building an emotional connection and trust with your ideal client, they are going to have stronger emotional connection with you in the beginning, which makes them more likely to buy from you

9. You can invest your heart and soul in what is most meaningful for you.

This will help you find a true sense of alignment. You will sense that you have deep meaning in your work, a purpose that is authentically you and what you are truly interested in. That means you will probably do a really good job at it. Imagine what it would feel like to turn up to work and love what you do and be totally immersed in it. Your enthusiasm and energy for what you do will in turn attract more clients to you. Instead of trying to be good at everything, just be good at everything, just be good at one thing. Figure out what you love to do, and just do that. It’s going to be way better for attracting clients and creating better outcomes.

Those are my reasons for starting out with a niche.

It makes everything clear and simple, and you can change as time goes on.

When you start out you may not be clear on who you are and who you’d like to target, but you can explore and experiment to find your niche. Put a time limit on in, I suggest around 3 – 6 months. Go out and meet people being around people and understanding their challenges and see what lights you up the best. Then take one direction and follow it for 6-12 months, give it a good go and see how it works for you.

Ready to find your niche?

You’re invited! The Habitology Membership is the perfect tool if you’re truly ready to grow a successful coaching business – and that starts with you. I encourage you to check it out. Learn more here:

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Becoming an Effective Listener

Mel White - effective listening
Mel White - effective listening

Would you like to have a better connection with your clients, friends and family, be seen as trustworthy, described as a good friend and become more respected by the people in  your life?

Then you need to become an effective listener.

It doesn’t sound like much, but effective listening is essential for great communication, strong relationships and earning the trust and respect of those around you.

It’s the basis of creating and nurturing high quality relationships of all kinds in your life.

Best of all, it’s something that anybody can learn how to do – and I’d love to show you how YOU can use it to gain respect, greater connection and stronger relationships.

What is effective listening? 

Effective listening is also known as active listening.

A good definition of effective listening is:

“giving complete focus and sole concentration to what another person is saying; absorbing it all, seeking to understand, responding to let them know you have heard and understood.”

You are totally present, not thinking about how this relates to you, or what your weekend will be like.

There’s no drifting off into your own thoughts, in active listening!

Effective/Active Listening Example

As a coach, a huge part of my job is to listen intently to what my clients are saying. In every session, I listen for words and feelings behind them in my client’s dialogue that I can reflect back to them. 

This allows my clients to hear what they just said, so that they can get aha moments and insights into what’s going on, and to get a different (and more honest) perspective on a situation.

A fresh perspective often frees the person from their quagmire so they can take action and solve any challenges.

Here’s an example of effective (active) listening:

I’m working with my client Kate. She has had a tough weekend in a relationship situation which caused a head-first dive into a tub of ice cream.

M: “So Kate, what happened with Rick?”

K: “He doesn’t make any time for me and there are endless excuses as to why he can’t see me. I spent all of Saturday waiting for him to call and he DIDN’T – right after he promised to take me out for lunch. I was so irritated and upset!”

M: “I can hear how irritated you are.”

K: “Oh, I was so angry at the time I just needed to vent, but I stayed home and waited – stupid – and then at 5 o’clock I just pigged out on ice-cream.”

M: [making eye contact] “If I’m hearing you correctly, it sounds like you had a really rough afternoon and you needed some sort of relief at the end.”

K: “Exactly! The crazy thing is, I feel worse about eating all that ice-cream than I do about sitting at home waiting for Rick to call!”

M: “That’s interesting! What do you think that means?”

K: “It means that I need to pay more attention to myself and what I need rather than relying on someone else to make me feel good.”

M: [smiling] [silence]

K: “Yeah, I think I need to just tell Rick next Saturday that he needs to show up by 11am if he wants to have lunch with me – otherwise I’ll be going out doing something for myself!”

This is the power of effective listening. In this short example, Kate just needed to vent and hear her own words – without my thoughts, opinion, suggestions or sympathy getting in the way of her doing that.

The funny thing is, my clients often thank me for my ‘advice’ or ‘help’ – but there isn’t any. There is just listening, reflection and a few questions on my part, and giving my 100% non-judgmental attention to the matter at hand – with empathy. 

Steven Covey Says it Best

Personal development expert Steven Covey summarises the skill of active listening nicely.

In Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Habit 5 is:

“Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”

If you think about the first part of that phrase, the only way you can seek to understand is to actively listen, putting aside all other thoughts, suspending your judgement and opinion.

Want to give it a go and see what happens in your own life? Here are some tips.

9 Simple Active Listening Techniques

Before your next conversation – at work, with a spouse, with your friend – read these tips to prepare yourself for effective listening.

  • Prepare for the conversation by turning off distractions and bringing 100% focus to the conversation ahead.
  • Shoo away intrusive thoughts and refocus.
  • Murmur to indicate you are listening.
  • Speak slowly and refrain from racing to speak.
  • Paraphrase what you hear when there are pauses in conversation.
  • Lean forward and make eye contact at times.
  • Clarify what you hear during the conversation (‘are you saying…?’) 
  • Summarise what you heard at the end (‘just to recap, it seems that…)
  • Put aside all judgement, opinion and thoughts.

Over to You

 Ok, time for you to practice listening to someone in your life.

Try it for yourself and discover what happens.

How did that person react?

How did active listening affect the rapport in the conversation?

What did that create?

I’d love to know how you go with this – let me know in the comments below.

And if you want to know more about active listening or being coached, click here