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The Importance of Building Community as a Coach

  May 15, 2023

Let’s start with a definition of community: “The condition of sharing or having certain attitudes and interests in common”. We all need some of that, don’t we?

So, why does building community seem to be important for coaches? If we start by looking at how many coaches run their coaching practice. For external coaches, they often have their own small business – mainly on their own. If they are internal, the coaching work they do is confidential and is therefore not something they can readily talk about their work with others in their organisation. Therefore, developing a community can offer some great benefits:

  • Providing connection and companionship – working on your own can be very isolating for some.
  • Creating camaraderie.
  • Having a confidential friend/colleague with who to discuss coaching issues.
  • Sharing ideas and concepts which support your personal development.

For coaches who run their own business, building community can provide new business opportunities and provide additional capacity to your business by:

  • Giving and receiving referrals for work – a really important aspect when, for whatever reason, you are not the right coach for a client, being able to refer to someone you trust and who you know is competent, is a really helpful, useful and important gesture to that client. As your reputation grows, more and more of your work will come from referrals, and marketing becomes less of a focus. However, marketing yourself is always important.
  • Working together or with another coaching organisation as an Associate - this can mean your clients and your prospective clients see you as more than ‘a one wo/man band’, and can potentially give you access to larger oranisations you might not already be able to reach and engage with.

How do you find ‘your’ community?

This isn’t confined to coaches. Business people starting out on their own, or developing a business also need to find their community.  Some ideas for finding your coaching community might be:

  • Your coaching school alumni – some schools have alumni days or alumni webinars that are designed to share information, develop our coaching and support the building of community.
  • Your fellow class mates in your coach training – stay connected beyond your training.
  • Attend a local coaching group (your country chapter for groups that might be available) and if you can’t find one, think about starting one of your own – in person or virtual – and yes it takes time to build.
  • ICF Chapter meetings – ICF chapters have regular meetings where you can meet and share with other coaches as well as learn new aspects of coaching.
  • Join a local Business Network.
  • Local business groups – often you will meet businesses where perhaps coaching could be required so you may acquire new business and it can help you understand and obtain the skills to build your own business.
  • Attend Conferences – coaching and business conferences.
  • Attend Webinars – (ICF offers many across the world) where you may learn something and also meet others online.
  • Develop a workshop – invite local people and businesses from your home community. Find some topics that interest you and might be useful to people and via the workshop, introduce them to coaching and how it can support people.

Building your community isn’t just about a community of coaches it can be a community in terms of local business, local charities, local people, local schools etc. It’s also not just about obtaining business; it is about what may have brought you to becoming a coach in the first place. 

You might ask yourselves these questions in helping you start to work out where you might find your community:

  • What is my purpose for becoming a coach? (My why)
  • What are my values as a coach? (My what)
  • What am I passionate about? (My what)
  • Who do I want in my community and why? (This starts looking at the how)

Fundamentally, building your community (coaching and otherwise) will have the effect of building and developing your business. When they start out, many coaches have not always understood that coaching is a business and it needs to be approached and built as a business. We are then lucky that the business we own and run, also allows us to work with our passion and create the joy in ourselves. 

As the saying goes: ‘when work is a joy, it is no longer work’. Building your community is about building your business, which then is about creating your joy!

As coaches we know that two heads can be more creative than one, so building your community can really support coaches to come up with better ideas and thinking. Coaches also are a very sharing community – and that’s in fact how coaching really evolved in the early days, by coaches sharing their thinking, their ideas and even their coaching materials. We are by nature hugely generous individuals.

Who do you know, right now, who could become your thinking partner in this and who perhaps also would like to build community? Find that person and you are on your way to building your community and to work being your joy!


Hillary OLIVER
ICF Master Certified Coach

Hilary is a Master Certified Coach (MCC) with the International Coach Federation (ICF). She is also a trained Coaching Supervisor and Mentor Coach. Hilary trains coaches and works with managers and leaders to develop their coaching capability. She works as an international Corporate Executive and Board Level Coach, a leadership development designer and facilitator working with a wide range of organizations. Hilary also specializes in working with organizations to support them develop coaching culture. She has been the President of the UK ICF and is a Past Chair of the ICF Global Board.



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