Be a Friend: Recommend a Coach

Posted in General Articles on Thursday, 01 September 2011.

by Scott Rozman © 2011

I’m often asked, “How do you get career coaching clients?”  I get coaching partners when I give a presentation, have a speaking engagement, or lead a workshop.  Participants usually check out my website ( or my interactive and reflective weekly blog (, then email or call to set-up a complimentary session.  Other partnerships develop when I go to parties, social gatherings, or events and meet and talk with people.  Most of my clients, however, are recommended from previous clients or are friends of friends.

My friend Liz, a fellow certified coach from The Netherlands, who completed the IPEC coaching program ( with me in New York, refers all of her friends to me, anyone and everyone she believes would benefit from a coach.  Having studied psychology, therapy, and coaching, she knows the life-altering benefits. She also knows that even if her friends aren’t ready now, they might be some day.  She doesn’t worry if some of her friends might not initially like the fact that she thinks they need a coach.  She knows she’s giving them information and a contact to really help them.  Most are thankful that she cares. Most are grateful that she’s offering an option.  When she recommended Martijn she warned me, “He doesn’t like to mix his personal and business lives.  He might be concerned that he’ll run into you at a party of mine sometime.”

Some friends of friends are initially apprehensive, worried about confidentiality, which is a given and clearly explained in the first five minutes when we talk.  “Our common friend will only know what we are talking about, or that we are working together, if you tell them.”  Some are initially concerned about what others might think.  Ironically, though, others almost always think, “Yes!, she’s (finally) taking steps to pro-actively change her life, reach her goals, and break repetitive habits,” or “Yes!, he can really take his business and career to another level now.”  Most trust their friends and call me to see if we’re a good fit, sometimes immediately, sometimes months, or even years, later.  “My friend told me about you and what you do maybe nine months ago, but now I’m finally ready to talk and learn more about the process.”  They are thankful to their friend for an option to change their lives and live more fully.

Martijn was one such friend of Liz’s.  We had been working together for 4 months.  I knew things about him that his wife and his best friends didn’t know, as well as things about his wife and best friends, like which friends he thought were pretentious and which he thought were cheap.  We had achieved a lot in our coaching partnership; he went from frustrated and paralyzed about his career after an unexpected lay-off to excited and passionate about his opportunities after a new, more advanced job offer.  He went from being down about himself and his life to being confident and charged up.  Yet, we never met.

Now, Liz was having a birthday party.  We both were invited.  I thought it might be awkward for him since most attendees were his friends and work colleagues and I knew how he felt about mixing business and pleasure.  Did they know he was working with a career coach?  Was Martijn comfortable with his career coach being at the party?  Did he know I was going to be there?

I walked out back where I heard the music.  The garden was beginning to bloom - the pinks, yellows, and purples of spring.  The white table-clothes on the tall, bar tables popped against the freshly cut green grass.  Inside, elegant snacks like;  deviled eggs, stuffed mushrooms, and an assortment of world-produced cheeses lined the kitchen island.  Dutch and English were being spoken in lively conversations.  A jazz band, hired as a surprise by my friend’s husband, was beginning to set-up.  After getting a vodka-based drink, I talked with the few people I knew, also from our coach-training program. I reconnected with others I met once or twice through Liz as well as started conversations with new people, people who were soon to become friends, and/or clients.

After a few minutes, Liz whispered to me, “Oh there’s Martijn and his wife, Sandra.”  I made eye contact, smiled, and nodded, but was careful to keep some space, until he knew who I was and more importantly, until he got comfortable with me being there.  After another 30 minutes or so, Martijn came over, and confirmed, “You’re Scott, right?” before he hugged me tightly.  We talked, each word lessening any uncomfortable-ness.  We had accomplished so much, yet were now just meeting in-person for the very first time.  Martijn proudly introduced me to his wife, his colleagues, and his friends, including the ones I knew he thought were cheap.

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