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The coaching niche: is it really important to have one?

to niche or not

There is a lively debate in the coaching community concerning whether it is important to chose a coaching niche when becoming a coach. In other words, whether to target a specific group of clients and to specialize in a precise area. The issue is fascinating.

I practice Linguistic Empathy and I expect you to do the same. Please bear with me if my English is not perfect.

When you are trained as a coach, nobody tells you to chose anything: you learn a technique, you undertake a personal path, you listen, ponder, practice, read and study, and learn what is beneficial in accompanying the client. Most of all, you learn that your role as a coach is not to let your experience interfere, but to put the clients’ needs and position ahead of everything, and react and support starting exclusively from their situation. This would make me think that whatever I have gone through in my life and no matter in which human and professional field my experience has developed, I will still coach anybody regardless of the reasons why they chose me and the issues that prompt them to look for the help of a coach.

At the same time, when training, you are invited to attend a variety of coaching groups, each one addressing a specific coaching niche. At ICA, the fabulous academy where I did my training, we had teleclasses on lots of topics linked to coaching, and we could also attend virtual meetings with Grief coaches, Career coaches, Parenting coaches, Spiritual coaches, and so on. The idea behind these invitations, I guessed, was to encourage you to explore and open up to different scenarios, but also to help you match your interests and passions with your future work.

Indeed, one of the reasons why I chose to become a cross-cultural and mobile career coach, is that most of my life has  developed around these themes, and I have acquired such a solid experience in relocating, that makes it instinctive for me to feel empathy towards persons who find themselves fighting with the ups and downs of mobile life.

And here is the trick for me: specializing in one coaching niche does not mean that you become a mentor or a counselor and coach people from the height of your knowledge. It simply means that your level of empathy can dramatically increase if you have gone through the same experience, and have suffered and rejoiced in that specific situation. And as much as we can work on our empathy, you will always definitely feel it instinctively either in situations that touch your deepest life values, or for people who walk your same path.

Moreover, it is no secret that when your work stems from and matches your deepest passions, you are much more likely to succeed. I feel it is important that coaches keep this rule in mind when presenting themselves in the work market. Genuine passion can move mountains and generate positive energy – and as a coach, you need a lot of it.

There is another reason why a niche seems important to me, and it is strictly linked to the promotion of your coaching profession. We all know how difficult it is to start making oneself known when we are finally ready to work. I believe the more specific is our proposal, the easier it will be to find matching clients. If a person is having trouble managing work and following the partner abroad, he or she will be more likely to seek the help of someone who has gone through the same experience and is more equipped to catch nuances and moods in relation to the situation during the coaching program.

Having a coaching niche is good; it is positive both for the coach and for the clients. What is not good is to close ourselves into our niche and refuse to welcome clients who are not directly linked to it. This would dangerously limit our whole life and professional experience and make us less complete human beings and coaches.


Claudia Landini
February 2014
Main pic ©ClaudiaLandini

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