Once you have completed all of the requirements necessary for becoming a business coach, you can focus on aspects that can assist you in your career. Many professionals throughout multiple industries, including some of your clients, take the opportunity to make connections and join organizations for their profession as part of their development. As a business coach, this option is a viable option that you may one day consider doing for your career.
Professional memberships for business coaches can come from several different organizations. The requirements for each organization will vary, but they can provide you with access to resources that you might not have access to on your own. For this article, three of the major business coaching organizations will be discussed: The International Coach Federation (ICF), The Worldwide Associate of Business Coaches (WABC), and The International Association of Coaching (IAC). The article will also discuss the advantages and disadvantages of joining a professional business coaching organization.
There are many benefits that may convince you to join a professional organization for your business coaching career. How you will be able to use those benefits during your career will be up to you. An advantage will only be able to affect you, your services, and skills to the degree by which you allow it to.
Professional organizations carry their own set of requirements that give their members an air of prestige over non-members. Clients who have used business coaching services before may recognize certain organizations and trust their membership. It creates an added layer of trustworthiness in a client's eyes that can make them choose to work with you over your competitors.
Information within the coaching industry, and any business industry, is a valuable commodity. Having the most relevant and current information can put you ahead of your customers and give your clients the best advantage possible. With an organization, you may be able to get that information faster as a member than as a non-member. It could be as small as a ten minute difference, but your client can make a decision based on that information in two and make progress.
Why Would You Not Join a Professional Business Coaching Organization?
Unfortunately, for every benefit someone gains from joining a professional organization, there's someone who received a disadvantage instead. What you thought was going to be a major perk about membership turned out to not make much of a difference in your career. Maybe you don't make the connections you wanted to make. It does happen, and it is possible it may happen to you.
Most organization memberships come with continuing education options. Sometimes, the information taught in those courses is lack-luster or doesn't apply to your coaching style or niche. It may even set you back rather than help you advance in your career.
However, it is a strong possibility that you will be flooded with all of those reminders. They may be harmless little emails that contain nuggets of useful information. Sometimes, they can include requests to recruit new members, join an associated group or committee, or even ask you for donations. A professional organization's leadership may also take a stance on an issue that you might not agree with. All of those added pressures can negate any benefits that the organization gives you, creating a massive disadvantage.
The International Coach Federation (ICF)
The International Coach Federation or ICF is a 20,000 member-strong coaching organization that operates all over the world. 5 It is not a business coaching-specific organization, and includes all types of non-sports related coaches in its ranks. While it does make them the largest professional coaching organization, it does not determine their ability to provide quality care for members who specialize in business coaching.
However, the ICF does pride itself on its ability to train and prepare professional coaches of all kinds as an independent certifier. Their coaching programs, both for certification and continuing education, are considered to be the only ones recognized on a global scale. Keep in mind that the ICF is not specific to business coaches only, so that claim may not apply to coaching programs that are business-specific.
The Worldwide Association of Business Coaches (WABC)
While the Worldwide Association of Business Coaches has been around almost as long as the ICF has-formation occurred in 1997 and 1995, respectively-it has a smaller membership. 7 Unlike the ICF, it is entirely focused on business coaching and is the only global organization to do so. Since WABC is a business coaching only organization, many business coaches follow their professional standards over general coaching standards because of the specification.
With WABC narrowing their focus on business-specific coaching, there is the possibility that the benefits it offers will be more to your advantage. Your network through WABC will also be specific to business coaching, which can help within your industry, but also cost you in terms of access to outside resources. However, it's network does expand to over 40 countries, which may offset the disadvantage.
The International Association of Coaching (IAC)
The International Association of Coaching or IAC was founded in 2003, making it the youngest of the three coaching organizations covered in this article. IAC states that it was founded by Thomas J. Leonard, who it claims is not only the founder of their organization, but the creator of the modern-day coaching profession. 8 The IAC uses Leonard's own structure and methods for their members.
Like the ICF, the IAC is not specific to business coaches, but instead includes offers membership to all non-sporting coaches. Their certifications come at multiple levels, much like university degree programs. The more time you spend working on expanding your coaching career, the higher the rank your credentials will be. IAC's main focus is expanding your coaching knowledge and mastery with several continuing education programs, which makes it highly beneficial for coaches looking to progress throughout their careers.
Requirements for the student membership includes the added requirements of current enrollment in a post-secondary education as a full time student while also enrolled as a trainee in one of IAC's licensed coaching programs. Student members are unable to serve as officers in IAC or vote on policies, cannot apply for coaching certification, and will not be listed in IAC's Coach Referral program.