Deciding Where to Mentor People
Where you mentor people as a coach depends greatly on the type of coaching you’re doing. Some reading this will end up coaching in person. Others (maybe even most) reading this will end up coaching mostly online or over the phone. Make your choice now so you can clearly present options to your client.
Whether you meet your client in person or not, the environment should be professional but comfortable. I hesitate to say casual, but it should be nearly so. You want people to let their guard down. You’re not their boss, you’re not their colleague— you’re someone they can really confide in and look up to.
Is It Better to Meet In Person or Coach Online?
Some would automatically assume that in-person coaching is better and more effective. And it can be in certain situations and under certain circumstances. But for business, especially online business, online or over the phone offers remarkable results, too.
The great thing about meeting in person is that you can tell a lot from your client’s body language. You can see their facial expressions, note how they cower or sit proudly in their chair, and gather a host of other clues.
But it can also be harder to meet in person for both parties. There’s the stress of getting to the meeting, taking time away in the schedule to do so, and expending the extra energy it takes.
There’s also something to be said for the fact that we have access to free video conferencing these days. We can get the facial expressions and body language we would in person but with the ease of meeting from the comforts of our respective homes.
It Also Depends on Who You’ll Be Working With
I have a feeling that one of the biggest reasons you’ll turn to offering online coaching (vs. in-person coaching) is because in-person coaching is restrictive as far as who you who you can take on as a client. You’re going to work with a variety of people from a variety of places. Unless you plan to work within the confines of your city or town or you’re willing to travel extensively, you’ll use tools like Skype, Facebook, the phone, email, and project management tools like Basecamp to conduct your coaching sessions.
Of course, if your plan is to coach in your local area, in-person coaching will be your option. But don’t dismiss the other options because they’re very effective.
A Combination of Methods Can Work Well
No matter whether you’re primarily coaching in-person or you’re offering distance coaching, you’ll want to combine methods for maximum effectiveness.
You can have set sessions where you video conference on Skype. You can also give your coaching client your cell phone number for when he has quick questions (be sure to set limits for personal cell phone calls). Finally, you can offer to answer questions via email or provide daily accountability via email.
There are nearly limitless options here. Figure out what you’re most comfortable with. Consider who you’ll be working with and which methods of communication are likely to be most appealing to them. Depending on what you’re charging, you can open up more or fewer methods of communication to be more or less readily available to your clients.
Coaching On the Internet— Technology and Methods
I suspect most reading this will do at least some of their coaching online, if not all of it.
Coaching online is great— even more so because it’s relatively free for you as the coach. You don’t have to buy expensive tools and equipment. There’s no need to only coach those local to you or for people who hire you to pay for hotels or book you for full days at a time— it allows you to earn more without breaking the bank of those who hire you.
You’ll also tend to save time when you coach online. It’s wonderful to meet in person when you can, but it does involve travel time and more wasted time. You’ll be able to spend more time coaching and focusing on what’s important instead of worrying about where you’re going and what you’re doing.
There are many different tools and technologies you can use to maximize your time online. You can, and should, use a combination of these to be as effective as possible.
No matter which tools you use, remember to never waste time on things that aren’t important. Have a plan for your coaching sessions. Remain on topic while allowing for flexibility at the same time.
Skype is a great tool because it allows you to make phone calls (cheap or free), video chat, and text chat. You can choose the appropriate type of communication depending on what you and your client need. You can also record calls for later use, share files, and link to resources on the web.
It seems obvious to put this here, but I’ll do it anyway. Email will likely be a vital part of your online coaching. You can email your coaching clients daily to help hold them accountable— this is a huge draw for many who hire a coach. They can also email you questions when they need to.
Email is great because it’s something you can get to when you’ve set aside the time to do so. As great as phone conversations are, we all know how they aren’t always as efficient as they could be. Email requires people to be more concise, which is a good thing when you’re coaching.
Webinars and Google Hangouts
You can offer webinars, even if it’s just for one coaching client. This allows you to share slides, presentations, and your own screen. Skype has implemented this feature, actually, so you’ll want to investigate that. GoToWebinar is another option— a particularly good one if you plan to hold pre-sale webinars or coach multiple people at one time.
Google Hangouts are also an option, especially if both you and your client have a webcam installed on your computers.
Basecamp, and other project management software, is good because it allows you to “assign” tasks to your coaching client. They can comment on these tasks and indicate when they’ve completed the assignment. It’s a nice way to keep track of what they’re doing, especially if they’ve indicated they’d like you to help hold them accountable.
Choose What’s Best for You
If you’re totally stuck, I recommend you choose Skype and Email as your coaching method. You may have some who aren’t as comfortable online and want to stick to a traditional phone— that’s fine as well. Do what works for your client.
These are all free or very low cost options that can help you remain effective for your client and don’t take a lot of time to learn or implement. Consider your coaching strategy and allow technology to help make your job easy. There are so many great tools out there— these are just some of them. You’ll figure out what works best for you as you go.