Selecting a Coach: What are you Looking for?


I've noticed some of my first time clients express their confusion about what they should even be looking for in a coach. They know they want help, and they know it's wise to shop around, but they don't even really know what they're looking for, or what makes one coach different from another. 

This post is for those of you out there who are shopping for a coach, but don't know how to evaluate which coach will be most effective for you. Here are five key things that I look for when choosing a coach. I've tried to make them generic enough for any kind of coaching, and I've organized them starting with things you can learn from a coach's profile or website, and moving towards more nuanced things that come after meeting the coach. 

1. They have expertise in people like you.

If you're looking for a relationship coach and the problem you've been having in your relationships is infidelity, then you want to be looking for a coach that knows something about infidelity. Their online profile or website should probably speak about infidelity. Maybe their tag line is "Fidelitous Relationships for All!" or maybe they're just a general relationship coach. Either way they know something about relationships. Don't ask a business coach to help you with your relationship issues. 

2. They respond to you and are professional.

Many people become coaches because they're sold on it being a get-rich-quick scheme. They throw up a website or profile and then never actually respond to inquiries because they gave up when the money didn't come pouring in. (And never go around to taking the website down.) Avoid hunting down the *perfect* coach based on their website. Find multiple coaches, as many as 8 or more, who could work for you and message them all. Not all will message you back, but this will still give you some options. 

Furthermore, Coaching is an unregulated profession, literally any one with any level of education and skill can call themselves a coach. When seeking a coach it's good to look for competency indicators, like a professional looking website, well written content and email responses that are respectful and clear. 

3. You can actually meet with them before committing.

There's a common coaching business model that involves offering a sorts of online classes and webinars, but making one on one sessions outrageously expensive, Sometimes online offerings will come with a smattering of 30 minute one on one sessions. Often the most personalized contact you get with the coach before enrolling is a group call. 

There's nothing wrong with this business model and it works well for hundreds of coaching clients. And, if you're looking for customized, one on one sessions, then this type of coaching does not provide that. Dig a little deeper down into your search results, search for local coaches, or use a site like, and you'll find those of us who see the immense effectiveness of one on one custom sessions.

It's very common for coaches to charge $100 - $125 per hour, so before you pay more than that, make sure you have a chance to establish that the coach is worth more than that in resume as well as in in-session skill. It's also very common for coaches to offer a 30 or 60 minute free consultation session in order to establish if it's a good coaching fit. 

4. You connect with their style when you meet them.

You're finally in your consultation session with a coach who looked great on paper (or screen, as is more likely.) So now what? Now you're looking to see what the interpersonal dynamic is. The power in coaching doesn't come from the coach but from the relationship between the coach and coachee. So you're looking for how you and the coach relate. Is it easy and comfortable? Are you uncomfortable or distracted by your coach? Are you a healthy sort of uncomfortable because the coach finds your self-limiting beliefs or other blocks?

5. They offer something of value.

In a perfect first session with the perfect coach, the coach would tell you things you don't already know or can't immediately see for yourself. Sometimes it's a *duh, I knew that!*  but if you hadn't actually been reaching that destination yourself, then the coach has provided some value. Sometimes this can occur in the first session, and sometimes you have to take a leap of faith and commit because it doesn't surface until a later session. Either way, this is the type of revelation that you're looking for in a coach. If you've found someone who does that, you've found a good one!

Looking for more?

I hope this has been informative and beneficial for those of you seeking a coach. Obviously this isn't the end all and be all of things to consider but it's a solid starting point. If you're looking for a specific type of coach feel free to drop me a line and I'll connect you to one of my colleagues who might be able to help. And of course, if you're looking for an assessment session with a business coach, you've already found one!