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In past blogs, we’ve looked at what a great resource LinkedIn can be when you’re building a successful training business. This week, I wanted to take things a bit further and concentrate on how you can tap the unmined potential of LinkedIn and turn your connections into clients.
To really make the most of LinkedIn, you need to put some time and focus into it to create a plan of action. Many experts are warning that now is a good time to build connections, but that it may get harder as the platform evolves.
Make sure your profile is up-to-date
When you connect with someone on LinkedIn, whether they’re a past colleague or a new contact from a networking event, the chances are that they’re going to take a look at your profile to see who you are and what you’ve been up to recently.
Does your current LinkedIn profile make a good first impression?
It’s essential to keep your LinkedIn profile current. Make sure the details of your training business are visible and that you have recommendations from within your network rather than just endorsements. Try using a keyword rich title to show what you do and the types of businesses you work with, as this will make it easier for your contacts to make referrals to other people in their network, and for potential clients to find you based on your training experience.
Look at your network
LinkedIn is built on ‘six degrees of separation’ – the theory that we’re all just six steps or fewer away from anyone else in the world, by way of introduction. Your network is your ‘sphere of influence’, the people who can put you in touch with wider connections, and who may either become clients or introduce you to clients. While the quantity of your contacts isn’t necessarily important, the quality can help to raise your profile on the platform. Think about how you could connect with some high-level influencers within your sector or take a moment to reach out to high-level influencers you already know.
Have a genuine reason to make contact
When was the last time that you contacted anyone within your LinkedIn network? Have you looked at your contacts’ profiles recently and seen what is happening in their careers? Have you noted who their connections are and, therefore, what people and businesses may be just a few degrees of separation away?
People respond to the idea of scarcity or limited availability, so my recommendation would be to carefully choose a few people from your network. Let them know that you aren’t contacting everyone and that you’ve thought long and hard about who to approach. Avoid using the standard message templates – your message should feel authentic and unique, letting them know that you’ve singled them out for a reason.
It’s important to have a genuine reason for contacting one of your connections. That might be to:
- Share some current industry news
- Let them know about a deal or offer you’ve seen one of their suppliers running
- Tell them about an industry conference that would interest them
- Pass on information about an opportunity that might be of interest
- Put them in touch with someone else in your network because you think both parties have something to offer one another
- Let them know about a new training programme you’re running and why you think it would benefit their business
The idea is to message your chosen contacts with something that will be of interest and value to them.
Don’t make your contact feel that they must reciprocate. They should feel that you have contacted them because you can genuinely help them in some way, not because you are fishing for a favour. While it’s OK to ask favours of your contacts from time to time, I’m a strong believer that you should have invested time in building a relationship with that person first. Give generously and expect nothing in return.
Tip: On the top right of your LinkedIn Home page, you should see a panel that says ‘XX ways to keep in touch’. LinkedIn uses this panel to flag up your contacts’ important anniversaries and milestones and lets you like or comment on this event. Small touches like this can help to keep you present in the minds of people in your network.
Show that you are active in your industry
LinkedIn is a great platform to show that you are active within your industry.
Why not try updating your status consistently, even if it’s just once or twice a week, to tell your contacts what you’re up to, who you’re working with, or what you’re running training sessions about? Or you could share links to blogs and other content – original or curated – that you think your clients would find of value. If you add the LinkedIn app to your phone, it only takes a moment to update your status.
Another way to show that your knowledge is current is to participate in groups that are relevant to your training business. There are some very active training groups, which will enable you to connect with other training professionals, but you may also want to join the groups where your potential clients hang out. Look at ways you can contribute valuable opinion or advice so that others come to see you as a source of knowledge and integrity.
Post articles to build your authority and credibility
Publishing articles on LinkedIn Pulse is an effective way to build your authority and credibility, both on the platform and beyond. Ideally, the content you post should be unique to LinkedIn rather than an article recycled from your blog.
Hubspot recently published this helpful guide to publishing on Pulse for the first time – it’s well worth a read.
Many businesses make the mistake of blogging about themselves and turning every article into an overt marketing message. In my experience, sharing advice, hints and tips is a far more effective way of gaining credibility and attracting new clients.
You could try sharing your best and most commented on articles in your LinkedIn groups to create conversation and engagement. Over time, you should build up a picture of which groups are the most active and receptive to your content.