LinkedIn calls itself the world’s largest professional network. Launched in 2003, it has over 225 million registered users in more than 200 countries and territories. LinkedIn can be a very effective marketing and networking tool for your business if you follow these basic steps.
Develop a Client-Focused Profile
Think of your profile as your business brochure. You want to create a profile that lets people know who you are, what you can provide and what you are seeking. A well-written profile can generate significant interest in your business and can induce potential customers to purchase your products and services. Note these seven ways to boost your profile’s effectiveness:
- Make your public profile visible to everyone.
- Include a professional photo (headshot). Your profile will be far more appealing to readers if they can see you. Your past associates are also more likely to find you if they see your face. Build your business brand by using the same photo on your website and all of your social media sites.
- Use the Summary section to generate interest in your profile by focusing on your specific accomplishments and describing what your clients are able to do because of you (known as your value proposition). This is your opportunity to differentiate yourself from the competition. For example, you would highlight how you have helped a client attain an ideal weight, achieve a significant performance goal or successfully apply a unique training technique.
- Include all of your professional and educational roles in the Experience section and the Education section. This allows you to be found more easily by anyone who shares previous employment or education. Make sure you include relevant certifications as well.
- Use keywords to increase your chances of being found during searches. A keyword is a word or phrase used to index content on websites, so that search engines like Google and Yahoo! can categorize and more effectively deliver those sites when people conduct searches. For example, if you are a running coach, your keywords might include “tips for fast running,” “run fast,” “fast running” and “faster running.” Tools such as Wordtracker, Keyword Discovery, Google AdWords, Keyword Tool and Bing® Ads Intelligence can help you identify successful keywords for your business. Try to include keywords in places such as your professional headline, summary, education, experience, recommendations and interests. However, avoid keyword stuffing, which is the excessive use of keywords just to improve search rankings.
- Make your summary scannable by breaking up text into paragraphs and using bullet points to highlight key items.
- Remember, you are not finished developing your profile until it is 100% complete. Use the Profile Strength meter on the right side of your profile to determine how strong the profile is. As you add content, your profile strength increases. You can move your cursor over the circle to view the next level of strength you can reach. Once you achieve All-Star status, you can share your profile on Facebook and Twitter™.
Ask for Recommendations and Endorsements
LinkedIn allows you to continuously develop a list of recommendations from customers, colleagues and other individuals who are familiar with your work. Likewise, you can list a broad array of skills on your profile page and be endorsed by individuals who have observed these skills. Recommendations and endorsements are an excellent way to demonstrate your expertise and the quality of your work. Get in the habit of requesting both from clients and colleagues. Also, provide recommendations and endorsements for your business connections.
Write a Descriptive Professional Headline
Your headline allows you to communicate your brand in a short statement. It should grab people’s attention and motivate them to find out more about you. Avoid common headlines like “personal trainer” or “swimming coach.” Think about what you want to be known for, and make your headline unique and catchy—for example, something like “Building Champions One Swimmer at a Time.” Bear in mind that the headline has a 110-character limit.
Label Your Website and Blog Links
People are more likely to visit your website and blog site if you use formal titles instead of URLs. Using titles will also increase your chances of being found during searches. For example, if you have a blog site named “Fit After Fifty,” use this name instead of simply including the URL. The name works effectively as a keyword phrase, and it lets viewers know what your blog is about.
Customize Your LinkedIn URL
LinkedIn will provide you with a randomly generated URL address for your public profile. Replace this with a customized URL that communicates your brand. For most coaches and trainers, using your name will be an effective way to direct traffic to your profile. You can also use a keyword-based URL, such as “running-coach” or “weight-loss-guru.”
Create a Connection Development Strategy
The primary purpose of LinkedIn is to give you an opportunity to develop a network of business connections. You can do this only by consistently inviting people to connect with you. Consider these six steps for creating a comprehensive connection development strategy:
- As you meet people, check to see if they are on LinkedIn; if they are, invite them to connect.
- Click “Add Connections” under the Network tab on your profile page to upload your address book. LinkedIn will use this information to suggest relevant connections for you, and to browse, search and organize your contacts.
- Add your LinkedIn URL to your email signature. Every time you send an email, the recipient will know you are on LinkedIn and will become a potential connection.
- Join LinkedIn groups that are relevant to your business. Once you are a member of a particular group, you can review the profiles of group members and invite people to connect with you.
- Click “People You May Know” on your profile page. LinkedIn does a great job of compiling a list of people who may be excellent connections. Review this list on a regular basis, and ask people to connect.
- Personalize your connection requests. LinkedIn provides you with a standard request: “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.” Add a bit more detail that lets your potential connection know who you are and why there is value in accepting your connection. Let them know why you want to connect.
Develop a User Group Strategy
To increase your exposure and perceived expertise, become active in groups related to your brand and market niche. A good place to start is the “Groups You May Like” page on the Interests tab under Groups. LinkedIn will provide you with a list of groups that fit your profile and business interests. You can also use this page to facilitate a search for groups that may interest you. For example, if you are a triathlon coach, type “triathlon” in the search window and you will see hundreds of groups dedicated to the sport. While it is natural to focus on groups specific to your athletic or fitness endeavor (e.g., strength training, therapeutic massage, nutrition), consider business groups as well. You might consider looking for groups for coaches, small-business owners, entrepreneurs and speakers. Choose your groups wisely; LinkedIn currently imposes a 50-group maximum.
Update Your Status
To let people in your network know what you are doing in your professional life, post updates on a regular basis. Tell them about your training programs, webinars and presentations, as well as events you plan to attend. It’s a great way to keep people informed without becoming a pest.
LinkedIn presents a great opportunity to separate yourself from the competition. When used properly, it gives you a free electronic brochure, branding tool and networking service. Follow the tips described in this article, and LinkedIn will provide a significant boost to your personal training business.
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