Here are six important tips to help you find the best life coaching association to support your needs as a professional.
Being a new coach out on your own can be lonely, especially if you work from home and do lots of skype or telephone coaching.
However that loneliness can disappear if you join one of the many coaching industry associations.
These associations provide a community for their members as well as, in many cases, independent credentialing of coaches and accreditation of courses.
The benefits of membership do vary a lot so I've listed below six of things you should look for before joining.
Many associations have local or chapters that meet regularly, maybe by conference call, or hold annual conferences. This gives you the opportunity to make contact with other coaches and keep up to date with the latest methods and innovations.
I've also compiled a list of life coaching associations for you to research and compare so you can choose one that really works for you. But first become familiar with the six things you should consider before joining. And if you have something to add or a question, please share in the comments section at the bottom of the page.
Independence is the key! Make sure the organization is truly "independent" and is not not just a front to lead you to a specific coaching school. Just because it has the authoritative sounding "institute" "federation" or "association", in the name, there is no guarantee it is actually an independent association for accrediting courses and credentialing coaches.
I have come across schools where the aim seems to deliberately mislead in this regard.
For instance some associations, including many branches of the International Coaching Federation (ICF), do not give their members the opportunity to have their profile listed in the coach referral section of their web site unless you are credentialed as a coach through them.
Other associations may allow you a profile as a coach without their credentialing so you do at least get a chance to be seen and contacted by prospective clients as soon as you join.
Leading associations such as the International Coach Federation often have a system for prospective clients to be given as leads to member coaches.
The prospect types in their coaching requirements (personal, business, corporate, health, etc.) and maybe the fee they are prepared to pay, and the system automatically sends their information to several coaches who match those requirements.
It is then up to the coach to contact the prospect to see if they are indeed a good coaching match.
Several prospective clients came to me through the ICF referral system so belonging to an association that has this benefit can be an effortless marketing tool.
Of course you can't rely just on a life coach association referral system so it's worth taking a look at the book Unstoppable Referrals by Steve Gordon which has some really encouraging reviews.
If the association you are considering joining says it has such a system, check whether the benefit is for all members or just for the coaches the association itelf has credentialed.
A great benefit of an association is to have a list of qualified mentors or supervisors. These are experienced coaches who coach candidates to achieve their credentialing aspirations.
Many coaches specialize in running affordable groups to prepare coaches for credentialing by their organization. You can read more about Coach Mentoring and Supervision.
Is the membership you are considering open to associated disciplines such as training or counseling at any level, or even to people or organizations who have an interest in coaching?
This can be a real advantage in broadening your contact base, maybe for networking, alliances and cross referrals. And on that subject have a look my networking tips for coaches.
What sort of community benefits does the life coaching association offer that are important to you?
Are you interested in taking part in chapter meetings with speakers, chat rooms, blogs, conferences, ongoing skills training or free or discounted indemnity insurance.
This is especially important if you are in a country that is new to coaching or has it's base in a country other than where you live.
Find out if the association caters for an international community with webinars and online communications.
Also check if the member benefits offered apply to the country you live in?
For instance, I've come across a very attractive discounted indemnity insurance as part of the membership package that did not apply unless you were a resident of the association's country of origin.
I hope these seven tips will help you make a good decision about which life coaching association you should join. And for more information on what you need to know and do to become a life coach....