How to Start a Virtual Coaching Practice

Magda Walczak  •  May 29, 2020  •  11 min read

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How to Start a Virtual Coaching Practice

On April 9 Meenakshi and I hosted a webinar for EMCC about starting a virtual coaching or mentoring practice, and on May 29 we did it again on Coacharya’s “turf.” The recording of the most recent session is below, followed by a LinkedIn Live Q&A we did on this topic. If you scroll down, we’ve compiled answers to the questions that came up after the webinars and suggested some resources we like. If there’s something we missed, please scroll all the way down and add your question in comments. We’ll update this post as questions come in.

Follow-up webinar to EMCC session

In addition to going into more depth as to what’s in this blog post, we spent a bit of time on reputation management of your search results. This session was recorded on LinkedIn Live.

To ZOOM or not to ZOOM?

To Zoom, but be smart about it.

Zoom is going through some major growing pains and we’re seeing it first hand (lots of companies are banning its use). We still like it and we use it at Coacharya, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t concerned and wasn’t evaluating our options. Why not just switch? We chose Zoom to begin with because it’s easy and fairly reliable tool for meetings and for webinars. While a lot of what’s on the media is about the meetings feature, we need to reach a bigger audience with our webcasts and Zoom allows us to easily manage webinars, stream them and share them.

For now, we recommend it, but advise caution in how you use it. Just take some precautions when you set up your meetings and when you start them. For example:

  • Enable Waiting Room and Password when you set up the meeting so that random strangers can’t access it easily.
  • Lock your meeting as soon as all attendees are in the Zoom room, which will prevent others from coming in.
  • DO NOT use your Personal Meeting Link – set up meetings using the Schedule Meeting feature. Since your personal meeting link stays the same and it’s open to outsiders, it’s an easier target for bad actors.
  • DO NOT share Zoom meeting links on public forums – send it to only those who register or accept your meeting invite.

For specific questions about using Zoom, check out their Help Center.

How do I leverage LinkedIn?

This is such a big topic that we did a whole webinar about it as part of our ongoing Business of Coaching series. It was hosted by Sonal Bahl, a career coach and personal branding expert. Here are a few additional resources that you might find helpful:

How do I find virtual clients?

Like with traditional business development, you have get yourself out there. Meeting people and marketing yourself (your brand) are necessary. Some ideas:

  • Join local area Meetup groups https://www.meetup.com/ 
  • Start a Coaching Meetup group of your own
  • Create your own YouTube Channel
  • Create a website for your business and spread the word on LinkedIn, Twitter etc.
  • Host free webinars using Facebook Live or YouTube Live.

Just remember: be authentic. You won’t get clients (virtual or not) if you’re pretending to be something you’re not. Here’s a great webinar on virtual networking:

How do I convert life energy into virtual energy?

By managing your attention, by focusing on tone of voice and non-verbal cues of the client and yourself, by slowing down your rate of speech to account for any lag in audio/video; using additional guidance on orienting and navigating – like what we do if we were speaking to someone who’s visually impaired. A good resource for gaining this perspective is using the Empathy Toy https://twentyonetoys.com/

How do I create presence, especially with groups?

Group dynamic on virtual calls is the same as in face-to-face coaching. With video on, the added advantage is that everyone including the Coach can see themselves as well.

Our suggestion is to connect the team members with one another first – using icebreakers etc. You can use Tools such as Mentimeter and ideaboardz to facilitate interaction and engagement in virtual settings.

You should also take a look at Sharon Bowman’s Training from the Back of the Room (TBR) techniques, and Coacharya alumna, Mindee Mosher’s video on doing video calls.

Is social media really necessary?

Yes, but focus on how you can make it manageable and useful. You don’t have to have a presence on all social media channels. Choose based on where your ‘tribe’ lives. Set up a schedule based on who you want to engage with and what social media platforms they are on. You can mix up your own content with sharing suggested content generated by LinkedIn. For example, Meenakshi uses LinkedIn and Twitter most often followed by Facebook and YouTube. She posts at least 3-4 times per week on her company page in LinkedIn and uses the same posts in a revised format if needed on Twitter and Facebook.

How do you manage if you’re presenting and managing chat on your own?

This definitely does get easier with practice! 🙂 If you are the only one presenting, then it’s a great idea to: 

  1. Mute everyone else (via meeting settings)
  2. Ask everyone to communicate via chat window
  3. Simple rules such as asking the audience to prefix the word “Question” before every question they type in chat window.
  4. Pause 1-2 times (for a 60-minute presentation) to answer questions
  5. Plan for 40 minutes of content for a 60-minute slot – so that you have enough time for technical issues AND questions.

Building a WIX Website

Q: Just doing my new WIX site, but if you need to attach the site to your own domain, you have to go ‘premium’ which has a monthly fee.

This is correct, but Wix is the only that lets you publish a website – although it is not with your custom domain URL. IF you are just starting out, it’s not such a bad option to be able to see what your website really looks like – you will have the advantage of getting insights from your target audience’s perspective.  Also, Wix is the only website builder that lets you publish a website for free!

How do you express your value?

The value proposition canvas can be a good tool. You may also want to have a listen to the webinar on personal branding.

Are contracts for virtual coaching different?

Not really, other than including digital or virtual coaching as a standard clause in the contract or agreeement. You should also make it clear if you’re ever recording a session and ensure you have expressed permission from all the participants.

All Other Q&A

Q: Just doing my new WIX site, but if you need to attach the site to your own domain, you have to go ‘premium’ which has a monthly fee.

A: This is correct, but Wix is the only that lets you publish a website – although it is not with your custom domain URL. IF you are just starting out, it’s not such a bad option to be able to see what your website really looks like – you will have the advantage of getting insights from your target audience’s perspective.  Also, Wix is the only website builder that lets you publish a website for free!

Q: How do you express your value?

A: The value proposition canvas can be a good tool. You may also want to have a listen to the webinar on personal branding.

Q: Are contracts for virtual coaching different?

A: Not really, other than including digital or virtual coaching as a standard clause in the contract or agreeement. You should also make it clear if you’re ever recording a session and ensure you have expressed permission from all the participants.

Q: And there are good virtual classroom platforms with even more options.

A: Yes, tons. Because systems with more features are built for educational institutions, they tend to be more expensive. You should start with defining the features you want and then prioritize them into what do you actually need vs what is a nice to have. Then if your existing video conferencing tool doesn’t have your ‘musts,’ take a look at software comparison sites like G2 Crowd to see what’s out there.

At Coacharya, Zoom has what we need for live classroom. We use Thinkific for out on demand courses and to supplement learning from our programs. The two platforms have the features we need for our learners.

Q: I’d like to know more about your workshops.

A: Great :). We offer accredited coach training programs for coaches who want to get their EMCC or ICF credentials. Take a look here to learn about the various paths to coaching credentials and how our training programs fit in. And this is our schedule of upcoming courses.

Q: Are there any academis studies on the results of e-coaching? And in comparison to non virtual coaching?

A: Still looking for an answer to this one. We’ll update the post when we find a study to quote.

Q: How do you share contracts? 

A: There are lots of document e-signature providers. We use Hellosign at Coacharya. Docusign is a very popular choice. Both offer a free version.

Tools we mentioned in the webinar

 

Name Website What’s it about Notes
uvsity https://www.uvsity.com/#/ An educational social network connecting worldwide students, professors, professionals, tutors, learners all on the same platform. Integrated with scheduling, Zoom and PayPal uvsity makes money by taking a certain % of your fees for a session or meeting
Mentimeter https://www.mentimeter.com/ Create interactive presentations & meetings, wherever you are
Get real-time input from remote teams and online students with live polls, quizzes, word clouds, Q&As and more
Free + Premium
Poll Everywhere https://pollev.com/login same as Mentimeter Free + Premium
Training from the Back of the Room (TBR) https://bowperson.com/training-from-the-back-of-the-room/ The best of brain-based teaching, training, and learning Free resources
Liberating Structures http://www.liberatingstructures.com/ Liberating Structures introduce tiny shifts in the way we meet, plan, decide and relate to one another. They put the innovative power once reserved for experts only in hands of everyone.  Tons of free resources on the website to help with team coaching and meetings
Ideaboardz https://ideaboardz.com/ Electronic whiteboard of sorts. Allows collaboration, conversation using electronic stickies and post-its Free to use. Credentialed access. Can share link for the board with other participants on the call
Hootsuite https://hootsuite.com/ Manage your social media interactions from one dashboard. Huge time saver.  Free for one user.
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Magda Walczak

Magda

Magda Walczak is CEO of Coacharya and looks after strategy, technology, marketing, and customer experience. She's also the author of Saylor's tale, a children's book.

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