There is one skill without which you cannot possibly hope to become a successful Life Coach.
It’s integral to gaining clients, keeping clients and being able to push clients when they maybe struggling.
Without it you will never get repeat business, referrals or testimonials and you’ll never grow a big enough audience either via your blog or newsletter to make much of an impact.
Of course I’m talking about building rapport.
Some Life Coaches who see themselves as being introverted can be wary of rapport building, thinking that they’re unlikely to ever be that good at at.
Rapport building is not about being a raging extrovert a bit like I am.
Sure I can start talking to just about anybody in any situation because I love to talk – no shit eh?
But that’s not building rapport.
It can be, but it doesn’t have to be.
I didn’t build rapport yesterday with the guy who tried to scam my free Life Coaching offer when I wrote an entire blog post calling him an ass and then e-mailed him the link.
I also didn’t build rapport with the guy who wouldn’t leave my front door step yesterday even though I insisted I didn’t want his cleaning products whether they were so environmentally safe he could drink them or not, and then slammed the door shut.
And I most certainly didn’t build rapport with my webhost last night after insinuating they were incompetent.
On the other hand, I most definitely did build rapport with a lady who I spent 45 minutes on the phone with explaining why my Life Coaching course wasn’t right for her (it’s a long story).
And I also built rapport with the guy I got chatting to at the dog park after he nearly filled his pants when he saw my three dobermans bounding toward him.
Rapport Isn’t Magic
It’s not some secret skill that some people are born with and some not.
Bill Clinton is known as a truly brilliant rapport builder, but he learnt those skills, he wasn’t pressing the flesh as he dropped out of the womb.
It’s not an ability to talk and talk and talk, but to connect.
Admittedly it comes more naturally to some people, but even introverts and shy people can learn to succeed at it.
Let’s suppose you get a prospective client call you, you will often have two options.
Option 1: You kick off telling them all you do, how experienced you are, what great results you have helped your clients achieve and that you have a cute kitten called Nibbles.
Option 2: You can ask them how you can help and then shut up and actively listen.
The first approach will be unlikely to build rapport. It could if they are into cute kittens called Nibbles, but it’s doubtful.
The reason is, you are making it about you, and you build rapport by making it about the other person and being interested in them and their problems/life whatever.
The second method is far more likely to build rapport.
It can fail to do so if you have a very shy client who has spent 16 hours just plucking up the courage to call you, but that’s a rarity.
On the other hand, if you do get a client who you suspect is very nervous and struggling to enunciate their feelings (and you will get them on occasions), then you have the opportunity to say something along the lines of:
“Would you be ok with me telling you the kind of clients I get the best results with and how I think I maybe able to help. I don’t want to get all self-indulgent, but I’m more than happy to do that if it’s helpful to you?”
Immediately you have increased the chance of improving rapport and generating a conversation because you have taken the pressure off them to talk for the time being.
A Missed Opportunity With Many Life Coaches
The one area where most Life Coaches miss an opportunity to build rapport (and it’s arguably the most important) is through their writing and their website copy.
I say arguably the most important simply because that will be the first contact many people have with you.
It’s great being able to build rapport in person, but if your copy is anemic, self indulgent (in other words talking about you, and not the benefit to your visitors) and/or just plain boring you will never get the phone to ring or the e-mail to drop in the first place.
I am very in peoples face with posts at A Daring Adventure. I swear a lot, use a lot of humor and the last thing I’m likely to be accused of is being vanilla.
An idiot maybe, vanilla, doubtful.
I know that this approach can immediately remove any chance of me building rapport with a lot of people, but I don’t care because I can’t be all things to all people.
I can only be me.
It’s not possible for you to write copy or articles that every person will love, so don’t try.
Write what you love, tell jokes that make you laugh and if you swear like a trooper, don’t hide it.
Similarly if you’re quiet and reserved worry not because there are hundreds of millions like you and you can talk to them directly.
That’s being authentic and that is what will resonate with your ideal customer and allow you to connect.
Resonate is a word I hear a lot from prospective clients when they contact me. They will often say ‘Your site (or a specific post) really resonated with me”.
Resonate is the same as rapport and the same as connecting.
You have to get people to resonate/connect with what you say, what you do and what you write because then you are in at least a degree of rapport.
That’s why personal stories (presuming you’re being humble and not broadcasting the world how awesome you are) can be so powerful because there will be people who have experienced what you have and will resonate with it.
Of course there are many other ways to build rapport and I talk about them on the Coach the Life Coach, but that may be another post for another time.
Coach The Life Coach Special Offer
Speaking of which, the next course is now kicking off on Saturday 28th at 12 noon EST and I am taking enrollments from this Monday 9th.
The normal cost is $1,599 with the early bird that usually runs to within 2 weeks of the start, or the course is full, at $1,299, so a saving of $300.
However, on Monday 9th I am going to release just 3 places for $999 via my newsletter saving you $600!
You will have to be signed up (you can do so in the blue box in the right side bar) and these are not available before Monday so do NOT jump the gun and leave a deposit because I will just refund it. I want to give everybody a fair crack.
Image Courtesy of Karen