Where Do You Look When You Need to Get Clients?

Today I was thinking about what it takes to get clients, and this joke my mom used to tell came to mind–have you ever heard it?

You have to look beyond where the light shines to find out how to get clients!
The fact that the light is shining on what you know, doesn’t mean that what you know is what you need to be looking at.

At 5 minutes to midnight, a man is down on his hands and knees on the sidewalk under a street lamp, looking for something and frantically running his hand over the pavement.

A policeman comes along and asks him what’s up.

The man says he dropped his keys–but the policeman doesn’t even have to bend over to see there’s nothing on the ground… so he asks, “You lost them here?”

“No, I lost them in that dark alley over there.”

“Then why are you looking here?”

“Because it’s easier to look where the light is.”


“Where the light is” is where we’re all looking when we try to get clients.

“Where the light is” is what we can see easily—what we already see, what we see without thinking about what might be important or different or useful to see.

For decades, when I needed more clients, I turned to what I knew—advanced training in my modality.

It was logical and it was the obvious choice, because it fit totally with the belief I held—that not having enough clients was directly related to not being a good enough practitioner.

What I couldn’t see was that it wasn’t true.

I know now that the skills it takes to work with clients are not the skills it takes to get clients to work with… but it was going to be long, long years before I figured it out. In the meantime, that mistaken belief ravaged my self-worth and brought me to the point of thinking I must have no value at all to the people I thought I was here to help.

Are you like me?

In the odd moments when I thought maybe there was something else I needed to know—something that wasn’t being taught in training programs—it never occurred to me to get help.

Like a lot of hands-on practitioners, I was sure I could figure it out all on my own—the same way I had figured out so many things before I became a hands-on practitioner.

Being so good at teaching myself to do things that I didn’t need help was a major point of pride.

And it was almost the end of of my practice.

Herein lies a great irony…

It never would have crossed my mind to offer hands-on work to clients without going to a training program—despite the fact that I was drawn to my work like a moth to flame.

Yet, I thought that I would figure out how to “market my practice” on my own—even though I was repelled by nearly every aspect of what I thought it would take.

You might wonder what I was thinking, but the truth is that I didn’t realize until much later that all of this was due to holding onto another series of mistaken notions that I completely embedded in my belief system—that I would have to learn how to “sell,” get more involved with money, become someone I hated in order to get enough clients to live as I wanted to live.

Years of struggle proved me wrong about what it takes to get clients

And it’s not just my own struggle I’m talking about—so many of my client have experience the same thing:

Like me, they had great training.

Like me, they had desire.

Like me, they were great at learning on their own.

Like me, they had no idea what they really needed to do to get clients.

Like me, they were overwhelmed by all the possibilities, so they either did nothing, or did everything—well, sort-of. Half-heartedly, really.

And like me, they were looking under a street lamp for answers that lay elsewhere—directing their attention at what they already knew, instead of getting the help they needed to look in the places that otherwise weren’t ever going to show up on their radar.

We’re just like our clients

What’s really ironic is that as a hands-on practitioner, you already know exactly this same thing in a different context: Almost none of your clients would figure out how to get the help they need on their own—without you. One of the most important reasons your clients need you is that they are not aware of what they need to pay attention to, in order to get the results they want.

The first step in learning how to get clients is knowing that you need to learn how to do it. Once you're there, anything is possible!
It’s possible to learn everything you need to know to have a successful practice… and it’s impossible to learn anything until you know you need it.

Having the intention to learn is essential, but intention doesn’t get you very far if you don’t know where to focus.

I know you already have the innate strengths you need to build your practice. I’m not making that up or trying to make you believe there’s something super-special about you.

I know it’s true because everyone has those skills as latent possibility.

It’s a matter of unearthing them so that you can develop them according to who you are, what feels right to you, what feels good, what feels like you.

When you do that, you’ll find that you can build exactly the practice you want, without feeling icky, or salesy or manipulative. You can do in a way that leaves you feeling natural and authentic… and as if you’ve just encountered your highest self, doing what you’re here to do in the easiest way possible.

And I know that you very well might think that you can do that on your own.

But statistics are against you.

The numbers are revealing…

The numbers show that more than 80% of hands-on practitioners are not aware of the precise skills and strengths they need to develop in order to get clients or build a sustainable practice.

That means that no matter how good you are at teaching yourself how to do anything, you are not likely to be able to teach yourself how to build your practice because you aren’t looking in the right place. For example, how many of these things do you focus on?

  • Developing the perfect website, fliers, logo and business cards.
  • Getting referrals from other hands-on practitioners.
  • Taking more training, getting more credentials.
  • Convincing people they need your work.
  • Creating a legal structure or a business model beyond what serves your need.
  • Trying to figure out how to talk about your modality so people don’t glaze over.

From the standpoint of getting clients, not one of these is a high-level concern if you are just starting out or don’t have a practice that’s big enough to sustain you.

Even more important, here are some of the critical things you may be ignoring:

  • Getting past the obstacles that stop you from becoming the practitioner who has the practice you want and is able to get clients whenever you need them.
  • Finding out how to talk to clients so that you can help them understand why they should commit to working with you.
  • Turning a high percentage of the people who call you into committed clients who come for at least 10 sessions.
  • Developing ONE introductory talk you can give over and over to build your reputation as an expert and get your phone ringing.
  • Doing the inner work that’s necessary for YOU to believe you ARE an expert.
  • Becoming a competent self-employed person who shows up consistently to work on your business and knows what to do when you get there.
  • Learning how to get great referrals from your current clients.
  • Dealing with your money issues and learning to talk about money with clients, so that it doesn’t scare the pants off you.
  • Discovering and developing your natural strengths so that you can use them to build the life you want, instead of apologizing for them and sticking them under a basket so no one can see them.

What does it take to beat the odds?

It’s easy enough to see the qualitative difference between these two lists. The truth is that if you want a practice that sustains you, you have to build a business. And because you have a high level of consciousness, the only business that will make you happy is one that makes you feel whole and keeps you in integrity. That means that in order to grow your business, you have to grow yourself.

As I’ve already said, you can learn everything you need to know as long as you know you need to learn it.

The problem for most of us is that we don’t really know what’s in our way, so start by taking stock of what you believe about the state of your practice. To begin, answer this question:

I’d like to get more clients, and I can’t do it because _________.

Now turn your “reason” into the thing you’d like to do, and fill in the blank again. For example…

  1. I’d like to get more clients, and I can’t do it because I’m overwhelmed.
  2. I’d like to be not overwhelmed about getting more clients, and I can’t do that because ______.

Keep on doing that until you get to the deep reason you’ve never realized was connected with this problem. You’ll know you’re there because you’ll feel a shift inside yourself as you recognize a deep truth and when you try to go further, nothing more comes up.

When you get to that point, you’ll have a starting place for getting the practice you want. Then it’s possible to get whatever targeted help you need—and that will enable you to avoid the years of frustration I encountered by looking under the circle of light I was standing in—instead in the place where the answers lay waiting for me.


I blog to help you think new thoughts about getting the practice you want.

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4 thoughts on “Where Do You Look When You Need to Get Clients?”

  1. It was good to read through your article. I definitely resonate with a lot of it. Especially the part about looking at what you already know and then missing out on what you could learn. It also reminded me of a quote from the Dalai Lama where he said when you talk you focus on what you know, it is when you listen that you have a chance to learn something new. (I think I paraphrased it a bit)
    Thanks for sharing your wisdom.
    – Denise

    1. Hi, Denise,
      Thanks for your thoughtful comment. Great connection with the idea that talking is not about learning!
      I think there’s an exception though… Some people process by talking, so when things have been percolating for a while, you can sometimes get something new from yourself while you’re talking–but only if you are actually listening while you’re talking… and that’s not such a simple task!

  2. Thanks for the blog post. I have taken your heart to heart call and I have not used it consistently with my clients. Why is that? Because I know by the time they call me, they are needing soft tissue work for a problem they are having. It is clear by the first few minutes they are looking for relief. I get it, I get excited and want to book the appointment with them. I know they want the relief from pain or relief from stress. What I miss asking is the question about the bigger picture. I think one of the modules from the heart to heart call is “ELICIT THEIR DREAMS” What bothers me about my working model is that there are no clear expectations about our work together. I feel I am more vested in giving them results than they are, because most people will walk away after receiving from 1 – 4 sessions from me. I think they think my hands are like magic and that my touch will resolve their aches and pains in just one session, or less than 4 or what ever. It sets up a practice that is full of cycles- too many open slots and too much anger and resentment on my part for working so hard to give them what they want. At this point, I am seriously thinking of offering multiple package sessions, so they are more vested in receiving multiple sessions. Without it, they are like dust in the wind, floating around with no clear idea where to land or which direction to further float into. Thank you and that is why I have decided to be part of the heart to heart call again.

    1. Hi, Vikki,
      I’m so glad that you decided to refresh your Heart to Heart skills with the current group! It’s so easy to get to whatever level you got to and figure that you’re just going to go on with the part you know how to do. I love it that you are constantly looking for the part where you’re missing out on giving your clients more help, and asking what you could do to make it more likely that they will get what they need.

      As you go through H2H, I want to suggest two things to you. First, that you make sure to come to the Q&A calls, because those will give you the opportunity to ask questions specific to your practice, and to get laser coaching that relates to your situation. Second, that you focus particularly on what packages you want to create, and how to make a recommendation. The one thing I do not suggest is that you create the package and offer them all to your clients. You need to know why Person A needs Package 1 and and Person B needs Package 3. When you make a considered recommendation that you feel is right for the client, it’s far more likely she will do what you suggest.

      I’m looking forward to seeing you on the calls!

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