Archive for January, 2009

Virtual Team Building for the Experienced Coach

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009 | Business Life, Uncategorized, Virtual Team Building with 3 Comments

As I continue on my business building journey, I’m reading and exploring what it is that experienced coaches need to keep growing their already successful businesses.  A couple weeks ago, I stumbled upon an amazing new take, written by Melanie Benson-Strick.  If you don’t know Melanie, she is the “Million Dollar Lifestyle Business Coach.”  Melanie has some awesome resources on how to build an effective team and she’s very experienced at working with coaches to help them build successful businesses.  Let’s face it, who DOESN’T want a million dollar coaching business?

Anyway, let me get back to the point.  Melanie has written a new “The CEO Factor Manifesto” that is extremely valuable for any coach who is looking to build a 6 or 7 figure business.  As I read through this manifesto, I noticed all the permissions it gave me to be creative, do what I want to do in business, and keep building my business “as if” I was already at that 6 or 7 figure mark.  Not only that, she gives some great ideas on how to build a team that is effective for you, where you can sit back and do what you want to do, instead of spending all your time managing.

My favorite part is that Melanie really gets to the heart of structuring a business to support your lifestyle and who you are.  It’s so important that we remember life comes first and business comes second when we are so passionate about our business and it’s so close to our hearts.  I really love the way Melanie takes the idea of outsourcing and helps you grasp the mindset needed to create an effective team.  I will probably read that pdf 100 times over.  Honestly, I think any virtual business owner needs to read this manifesto.  Go download it at http://www.theceofactormanifesto.com.

Let me know what you think!  I’d like to hear what you, as a coach, gleen from this incredibly helpful piece of information!

The coolest virtual marketing idea ever!

Thursday, January 15th, 2009 | Marketing Strategies with No Comments »

I just met Jen Louden, The Comfort Queen, yesterday and she rocked my marketing world!  I’m so psyched about this.  She has created a very cool new way to work with clients virtually and I think the coaching community needs to know about it.  So, we got together via phone and I asked some questions, to help all of you understand what the possibilities of this creative idea are.

Wanna know what this really cool virtual marketing idea is?  It’s called a “Virtual Retreat.”  I know many coaches who go out and do these really great retreats all over the world.   Some enjoy the travel adventure and some enjoy connecting with flesh & blood humans.

Jenn is not only the “Comfort Queen,” but she’s also a retreat-a-holic.  Every year she travels the world and visits places where women show up to find comfort while in the midst of change.  This year, Jen recognized she is feeling the fear of the economy.  She knew others had to be feeling that too.  She wanted to provide comfort, but also wanted to share what she was learning about that fear.  LOVE this! 

Jen is all about sharing what she learns and she turns that into products. woo hoo!

Jen considered travelling the country doing lots of smaller retreats this year so people wouldn’t have to pay for travel.  After considering, she decided she didn’t want to do that much work.  So, she chose to stay within the familiar comforts of her own office and take her retreats to the internet.  She’s calling it “The Comfort Queens 2009 Virtual Retreat” and it starts tomorrow, January 16.

Now, you’re probably wondering how in the world she will create a “retreat” atmosphere via the phone.  Read the schedule and you’ll see.

She’s providing her own coaching throughout the entire retreat.

There will be check-in moments where she will be able to help all attendees re-center and integrate their learning.  Yes, the structure is VERY similar to a telesummit, but with this addition of coaching thrown into the middle of it, there is WAY more value than any telesummit I’ve ever seen.

Every coach has something to bring to an event like this.  Jen brings calmness and stillness to help keep attendees out of overwhelm.  Think about what your unique coaching ability could add to an event like this.

I want to break this down for you in terms of implementing an idea like this into your business.  So, here are some questions I asked Jen about putting this event together.  Most of these are questions I ask my clients to think about before they jump into a major marketing campaign like this one.

1)  Who is your target market? - “I never picked a target market or niche.”  “I published my book ‘The Women’s Retreat Book’ and then all of a sudden women in their mid-30’s to mid-50’s whose lives were changing in some way and needed some help, started showing up.” Jen’s target market found her!  The best way to find a target market.

2)  What personal value are you honoring in creating this Virtual Retreat? - “Waking up and waking others up.” [Being awake] “comes in waves, and sprials, and peels like an onion.” Jen recognized this at one point and started reading and talking to friends.  She wanted to turn it into something and it morphed into doing live events.  [The Virtual Retreat is] “just a new way to teach what I’ve always taught.”

3)  What was the implementation process like for you? - Jen put this idea into action right away.  So, 6 weeks later, she’s leading the event.  “The big learning, for me, is that people [JV partners, team members etc...] need more time to process doing, writing and promoting it.”   “I needed more time to promote affiliate relationships.”  “Next year, I’m starting in October.”

4)  What do you hope attendees will come away with after attending your retreat? - “The word that came to me was recalibration.” Jen had sent out a survey to her community and after reading them and checking in with her own needs she came to the conculsion that; “We feel like there’s hope and change and at the same time so many things we’ve known are crumbling around us.”  “I have touched into that place of well-being no matter what’s going on around me and I’m going to have to in the future too.”  “I want to make this an experience about FEELING calm and content.”  “Can you even grap that this is possible in the midst of [the chaos around you]?”  “I want to give them the ability to return to themselves and return to their center no matter how badly they get knocked off. [For me, it's about] how fast can I notice it and come back to where I am now? There are so many ways to get into that.” “[I want the attendees] to have a variety of opportunities [to return to center].”

5)  What words of wisdom do you have for a coach who would also like to implement a virtual retreat in their business? “There are a lot of moving parts.  You need someone on board who is good at managing those and thinking through all the pieces.  You don’t want to do it yourself unless you want to think about all the pieces yourself.”

Jen is truly an amazing woman who is doing work that brings value for her and those she helps.  The invention of the Virtual Retreat came authentically from that combination.  I believe this format is a truly wonderful combination of the offline world and virtual world and I’d like to see more coaches take this idea and run with it.  Check out Jen’s sales page for “The Comfort Queens 2009 Virtual Retreat.”  Sign up if you feel it’s appropriate for you, but more than that…notice how Jen’s passion and “being” comes through in the marketing and how she has structured this event for herself.

What do you think?  Would you like to create a virtual retreat?  Have you ever done something like this?  What do you think of it as a marketing strategy?  What have you learned from this interview?  Share with us in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you!

Virtual Team Building and Social Networks

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009 | Social Networking, Virtual Team Building with 1 Comment

My colleague (and project management resource queen), Kim Beasley, has inspired me to write about building a team using social networks. Kim (http://twitter.com/kimbeasley) asked her Twitter Network about their experience using social networks to build their virtual teams.  Of course, I jumped right in, as I’ve built my team MOSTLY through social networks.

As a virtual business owner it’s important to bring in team members that I can relate to, work with, and who ALSO have the required skills.  Social networks allow me to find out a lot of information before I even interview the candidate.  Here’s the deal!  Social networks are “social.”  So, I get to know who a potential team member is, as a person, before I approach them.  I listen carefully to what they say on social networks.  If I agree with their advice to others, I know that we have a lot in common.  I also learn about their skill sets.  You see how this is a valuable place?

There comes a point in every coaching business where you need some help with the backend work of your business.  As your business grows and changes, there’s a second level where you need more advanced help in your business.  It’s no longer just about the skill level of your team.  It’s also about how much responsibility your team is willing to own.  It’s about whether they can take initiative and do things without asking. Many will turn to fellow coaches for referrals, which is a great place to start.  Even if you have a referral, it’s good to do your own legwork, because what works for one coach may not work for another (I’ve seen that mistake all too often in the coaching industry…it’s killer on the pocket book).  So, I suggest you get on your social networks and start doing your research.

Relying on social networks to learn about your potential team member can answer your questions.  If this candidate is answering advanced questions about simple topics then you have a pretty good clue that they know the skills.  Then listen for the moments when they start talking about overall business concepts…do you agree?  Are you connecting with this person?  Ask some very pointed questions of this candidate through the networks.  USE your social networks to screen your team BEFORE you get them on the phone.  It’ll make that interview process a lot simpler and you’ll know by the end of the call whether you want to hire that person or not.

Kim asked her Twitter network 8 questions and has created a whole blog series around those answers, so I suggest you also read her blog posts to gather more information about building and managing your virtual team.  Start with the first one at http://www.projectmanagement411.com/using-social-media-to-build-your-virtual-project-management-team-part-1/.

What are your thoughts on social networks and team building?  Do you have any questions?  I’d love to hear form you.

I’m on Twitter, Now What?!

Tuesday, January 6th, 2009 | Social Networking, Twitter, Uncategorized with 1 Comment

Are you an experienced coach who is hearing that you MUST be on Twitter?  Have you jumped in?  Do you find yourself wondering what you are doing there?  You are NOT the only one!  The word has gotten out.  Twitter is a great tool for marketing your coaching business, but it doesn’t do you any good unless you know how you want to BE on Twitter.

You may want to grab something to take notes with because I’m going to help you create a few lists that will help give you some direction.  As you create your lists do a brain dump.  Add whatever comes to mind and you can filter it out later (if you even need to).  This is all about creating possibility.

1) First thing to think about is who do you want to connect with via Twitter? Do you want to connect with potential clients, joint venture candidates, high profile connections in your niche?  Someone else?  All of those?  Be as adventurous as you want to be.  If you are adventurous as a coach, I suggest you implement that mentality here and be adventurous.  Reach for those you really want to reach for.  The possibilities truly are endless when it comes to Twitter.  Brain dump and add them all to your list.

2) Next, what do those people want? As an experienced coach, you’ve made connections like these in other arenas.  You know what they are looking for.  You know what gets their attention and what makes them take the next step.  Again, make a list.  Put it all down.

3) Now, who are you being as a coach? You’ve probably been asked that question by one coach or another.  Have you written it down?  If so, pull it out and have it handy.  If not, do it now.  Write down how you are with your clients in different situations.  Are you tough, but gentle?  Write down as many phrases, words or sentences as you can think of.

4) Lastly, take a look at who you are being as a person? Again right this down.  As a whole person who are you being in this world?  How does that overlap with who you are as a coach?

Now you have lots of information that can help inform the way you will BE on Twitter. Think of Twitter as a way to create a community of people YOU want to be surrounded by.  Take the answers to #1, above, and start building your community.  “Follow” those people who fit your criteria.  Look them up on http://www.twellow.com or http://www.twittersearch.com .   Get yourself a desktop application that can help keep you organized while you do.  I suggest http://www.tweetdeck.com, so you can group your community by the type of connection you want to make.

As you respond to other tweets, think about the connection you want to make and what that person wants.  Listen to what they are asking in the tweet and use your list of what they want, from #2.  Here’s the tricky part.  At the same time you are giving them what they want, be yourself!  I suspect that who you are as a person has a lot of overlap with who you are as a coach.  So, be yourself.  Listen to your intuition.  Follow your gut and BE the person you feel you want to be in that moment.  The list is just a guideline for when you get stuck.  Your gut knows better than anything.  As in all coaching.  Trust it, try it, see if it sticks and let it go.

When creating your own tweets, look at what your community wants. Answer that call in general terms.  You don’t have to give away all your secrets or even coach people via Twitter.  Start your day with a tweet about some topic with which you already know they struggle.  Give them 140 characters of wisdom that will make them think about new possibilities.  Give your followers hope.  Give your followers something that will move them slightly forward.  Any of that will get your followers wanting more.  In my own personal experience on Twitter, I’ve found that people respond to wisdom that gives them a new perspective.  Send one of those every day and you will build your following in no time.

The great thing about Twitter is you can BE yourself! Many people choose to share their personal lives as well as their business life with the Twitter community.  Set your boundaries however you want to set them.   Just remember that it is a SOCIAL network.  People want to get to know who you are.  They also want to know a bit about what you do.  Whatever the topic, if you are BEING the coach and person you are, then they will be most attracted to that!

Of course there are a lot more technical things I could go into as well as marketing strategy.  You can find a lot of that at http://www.twitterhandbook.com.  I recommend you DO get this guide which is a great Twitter reference and starter kit!

If I’ve missed something here, or you have a story to share about trying these strategies, I’d love to hear about it.  So, please share.