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Finding a personal coach, whether you’re looking for a “life” coach or “business” coach, is a little like finding a new dentist or doctor. Here are a few things to think about to get you on your way.

  1. Referrals work! Begin by asking people you trust whom they work with or who they know who works with someone they like. Your friends and colleagues have probably heard of someone you might connect with.

  2. Trust your intuition. What’s of paramount importance is how you feel when you talk to the person. Do you get a good feeling talking to the person?

  3. Reflect. Ask yourself what you’d like to get out of a coaching relationship.
    a. What are your goals?
    b. Are you at an inflection point in your life?
    c. What are the biggest changes you want out of your life right now?
    d. What expectations do you have about coaching?

  4. Prepare questions in advance of meeting with a potential coach. What these are will depend on what you want out of the relationship. How will you and the coach know that the coaching relationship has been successful? What could you learn from this person?

  5. It’s always a good idea to ask a potential coach what his or her background is that qualifies him or her to be a coach. Then again, not all good coaches are certified and not all certified coaches are good. Regardless of credentials, a prospective coach should be able to tell you what training and experience has prepared him or her to be a coach.

  6. Get references. Your potential coach should have the names and contact information of people he or she has worked with successfully. Contact these people and ask them what the relationship has done for them.

  7. Ask the potential coach to tell you about their coaching style and methods. Beware of coaches whose methodology is described using the latest buzzwords and catchphrases (“I’m a holistic healer who uses macro and micro integral transformation to trend future openings and gaps.”). Rather, a coaching model should be clear and direct.

  8. Ask yourself if the coach’s background, expertise, and experience matches your needs. A coach whose primary area of expertise lies in entrepreneurship will probably not help you much if you’re looking to better navigate the ins and outs of your current job with a large corporation.

  9. Ask specific questions about fees, confidentiality, policies, etc. Coaches offer their services at widely varying rates, depending on the experience level, geographical area, credentials, etc. Make sure you have a clear understanding about what’s considered confidential and when.

  10. If you have a comfortable feeling about the coach and about the potential benefits of working with him or her, ask for a free coaching session. Most coaches will offer a free half-hour session with a potential client. Although it’s not the same as a “regular” coaching session, it will give you an idea of what to expect and what the coach’s style is.

  11. Lastly, give feedback. You are part owner of the relationship. If at any point in the coaching relationship you feel that it’s not working out the way you expected, talk to your coach. If nothing results from your conversation, then you may want to look for another coach. The bottom line is that coaching relationship must be a fit for you.

This Personal Development article was written by John Sanchez on 2/14/2005

John Sanchez has over a decade of experience as a facilitator, trainer, and personal coach/consultant to senior leaders and their organizations in the financial services and biopharmaceutical industries. A passionate believer that all individuals have at their disposal an innate “knowing”, John works with diverse groups, from international business people to senior executives in cross-cultural settings, to help them discover what is already within themselves. He can be contacted at