If you are a business coach or consultant looking to grow your business online, there's no better place on the planet to be right now than LinkedIn.
From giving coaches and consultants a ready-made, inbound lead generation source via its freelance marketplace, to an improved blogging and analytics experience, LinkedIn continues to make it easy to find, engage and connect with potential clients on the platform.
Having spent the past few years showing thousands of professionals worldwide how to use LinkedIn to generate new business, I'm seeing more and more coaches and consultants generating some incredible results using the platform.
During a recent podcast conversation with one such high-level Business Coach and Consultant, John Hawkins, we discussed some key strategies he has used to fine-tune his profile and get "found" by prospective clients on LinkedIn.
If You Confuse Them, You Lose Them
If you want to grow your business coaching and consulting business through LinkedIn, the very first thing you need to do is create a client-attracting LinkedIn profile that is more "functional" than "aspirational" in tone and style.
When I say "functional," I mean ensuring your LinkedIn profile's summary, headlines and descriptions use simple, common terms that your future clients would actually type into a search box to find someone like you.
"I've been around the globe and I'm so much more than just a motivational speaker," says Hawkins, who has coached for and consulted with for some of the biggest brands and individuals on the planet. "I'm so much more than a leadership coach, and my clients know this and I know this. But at the same time, that's what people are looking for when they jump on LinkedIn.
"So, in order to be found, in order to get that door open, I don't use some fancy language or terminology that sounds cool but is ultimately ineffective. Instead, I use something that's basic and direct."
For instance, Hawkins' LinkedIn professional headline reads as follows: "Executive Coach | Life and Business Strategist | Motivational Speaker."
That's what I call a "functional" headline. You immediately know what it is that John Hawkins does for work, and, more important, terms like "Executive Coach" and "Motivational Speaker" are commonly searched for by his ideal prospects on LinkedIn.
Think of it this way - what would your ideal client type into a Google Search if he or she were looking for someone who provides your type of product or service?
In the case of a Business Coach, someone might type in the phrase "Business Coach", correct?
So, while using "aspirational" terms or phrases like "Helping people achieve their professional dreams" might sound great, nobody is typing that into LinkedIn's search bar when looking for a coach to hire!
Demonstrate Authority - Don't Just Claim It!
Hawkins also found a key part of using LinkedIn to generate business for himself was becoming a member of and contributing to professional groups where his ideal prospects were hanging out.
"Within those groups, I am active at least twice a week, and I go in and I comment or I bring a post and I share that post to the group," he says. "I have made a tremendous amount of high-quality connections based on interactions with the groups. In fact, I was shocked at how much interaction [with prospective clients] was actually a direct result of my commenting and posting inside specific groups."
I would add that this strategy is true for any interaction on LinkedIn. They key is this: Don't go into groups or comment on articles or status updates to promote yourself. People can smell a self-promoting sales pitch a mile away.
Instead, add value and share your unique insights by responding to questions thoughtfully. Pick and choose your comments and conversations wisely, and engage with the types of people you'd ideally love to turn into your coaching or consulting clients.
LinkedIn Data = "Warm" Leads
Because LinkedIn has so much data on everyone, it's easy for you to see someone's job title or whatever other information you need to determine if lending your time and insight to his or her post or comment is a good use of your time and expertise.
The same goes for posting content. When you publish and share an article on LinkedIn that demonstrates your expertise and provides genuine value, it provides additional opportunities for your potential clients to get to know you, like you and trust you.
Even better, you can use LinkedIn insights and analytics to find out more about who is liking, commenting, and sharing your posts. It then becomes easy to go back to those professionals who are engaging with your content and start a conversation that leads into your coaching or consulting programs and services.
Also, since there is context for the conversation, people are already "warmed up" when you reach out to connect and converse.
It's a model more and more coaches, including John Hawkins, are using to quickly build and scale powerful, client-attracting platforms on LinkedIn.