When you train as a coach you get taught how to be a coach. Fair enough.
You don’t get taught how to build a coaching business.
So once I had my certification in hand, I was all ready and excited to get started and… I didn’t really know how to. A big blank canvas was ahead of me. And I’m not very good with those…
Thankfully I had my own coach. Thankfully I had other coaches going through the same thing as I was, and we could support each other (even though we were pretty clueless about how exactly we would do that, but we were very supportive). And then I stumbled across the wonderful world of online programmes that are out there to teach us how to build a business. YAY!
So, in the early days of starting my own coaching business, one of the many things I learnt was that I should have an ‘elevator pitch’ – eeeekkkkss
I was meant to be able to say in a couple of sentences what I did, so that anyone could understand – at the speed of an elevator ride (or lift as we say in the UK).
Be straight to the point and nail it.
Yikes… the pressure!
How on earth am I going to do that in a way that sounds natural and not rehearsed?!? (I really am not one of those ‘glossy it all flows out of your mouth sounding like a poem’ kind of person…)
Obviously total panic plus way too much procrastainating and rehearsing followed.
None of it felt right
I was taught that I shouldn’t just say ‘I’m a coach’. People wouldn’t understand. And to a certain extent that is right. I have had several amusing experiences when I say I am a coach:
- Blank stare.
- Oh, that’s interesting. A tennis coach? (that one made me stare back at them completely baffled)
Another time (in China)
- You work at COACH? (the handbag brand)
And so on…
To be fair, a lot of people don’t know what a coach is. And that’s fine. I had a really biased idea about coaching before I tried it out myself. I thought it was a ‘trendy kind of thing everybody liked to say they had one in the corporate world’ showy off kind of thing. I also thought it was something ex-HR professionals , more precisely middle aged women going through some sort of identity crisis who then decided they wanted to be one. OUCH. Was that really what I thought? YES! 10 years ago I really did think that. Oh the irony of life….
So where am I going with all of this?
You need to just do what feels right for you. If you find that you can’t really describe yourself in one or two sentences IT’S OK. You don’t have to have an ‘elevator pitch’.
But it is helpful to be able to explain what you do to someone who might not have your background and therefore may not know what you are talking about. Because it can start a conversation between you, they will get to know you a little bit better, understand what you do and who knows maybe think of you next time someone they know is looking for someone who does what you do.
Example: if you are have a shop which sells children’s clothes, you could say just that OR you could say a little bit more…
What would you like to be known for?
What would you like people to refer you for?
Food for thought.
In the meantime, if it doesn’t work for you, join me and ditch the pitch.