For individuals working in a corporate setting, LinkedIn has become an indispensable tool to grow a network and further one’s professional career. The same applies for independent coaches – but not quite in the same way it does for a working professional.
As an independent coach, LinkedIn is not a tool only to showcase your previous work experience – like a resume – and is instead better suited to build your own personal brand and reputation as a coach. It’s ideal to leverage the platform to build your own brand and voice as an independent coach, slowly build momentum, so that when your ideal client is ready to hire a coach, you’ve already laid out the groundwork by establishing trust & a relationship, thus making the process of closing them as clients much simpler.
So why is LinkedIn such a great platform, particularly if you’re a business, executive, leadership, or life coach? According to Greg Cooper, a LinkedIn coach & trainer, LinkedIn is quite unique as it gives coaches direct access to the individual’s preferred target audiences and groups. So, whether an independent coach wants to work with small business owners or large organisations, their audience will be on LinkedIn and they can then find and engage with that audience. Many business coaches will also be life coaches and both audiences are very accessible through LinkedIn – making it a boon for anyone looking to grow their personal coaching business.
Let’s look at some more reasons why LinkedIn can be such a valuable platform for independent coaches:
- A Big Professional Client Base – If you’re in one of the above-mentioned categories of coaches, you are going to be looking for a professional client base, the hub for which is LinkedIn. According to a recent study, LinkedIn is said to have over 660 million users worldwide – in more than 200 countries across the globe! And considering the audience is working professionals, the average income rate of users on LinkedIn will be higher than those on any other social platform, thus qualifying them to fit in your ideal client base.
- Shorter Sales Cycle – Since people on the platform are primarily there in order to work towards their professional development, they are already more likely to consider and eventually hire a coach for their own professional evolution. And as we all deal with changing work conditions in this pandemic, it is a good time to communicate the need and advantages for a coach in the life of a professional or organisation.
- LinkedIn Pulse – LinkedIn has its own inbuilt news aggregation feed that’s designed for members to self-publish their content. Not only is this an excellent tool for creating content that your audience could find valuable, it also has a higher search engine ranking on Google and a good probability of going beyond the reach of your own immediate circle, thus enabling more prospects to discover you through your educational content.
- Higher Response Rate than Traditional Email – According to LinkedIn’s research, the average response rate to LinkedIn InMail is 85% – 3 times higher than traditional e-mail! The statistics are encouraging for an independent coach looking to reach out personally to their ideal client to inform them of their services or even just to build conversation.
Now that we know why LinkedIn has so much potential for independent coaches, let’s look at how you can step it up and optimize your LinkedIn profile to generate high quality leads:
- Optimize Headline: To grow your coaching business the first thing you need to create according to John Hawkins, a Business Coach & Consultant, is a client-attracting LinkedIn profile that is more ‘functional’ than it is 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.” says Hawkins, whose LinkedIn headline reads: ‘Executive Coach | Life & Business Strategists | Motivational Speaker’
Another interesting insight comes from Natasha Vilaseca, a LinkedIn Consultant who helps business owners and coaches implement effective LinkedIn strategies. Her method for an optimal LinkedIn headline takes it a step further from the functional headline and is a mix of three vital components:
- Your expertise or specialisation
- Target audience
- Customer pain and/or solution
Her own headline for instance says: LinkedIn Consultant — I help Coaches, Consultants & Agency Owners Generate Leads Using LinkedIn.
Essentially your headline should be a modified one-sentence elevator pitch that is keyword-heavy for you to turn up when people are searching for your service in LinkedIn.
Pro Tip: Greg Cooper suggests there’s another opportunity beyond optimizing your headline and this is to put another image (banner) – a great place to reinforce your brand.
- Join Relevant Groups: There are two ways you can leverage LinkedIn groups, according to Shore. One is to be part of groups comprising other coaches to open partnering and networking opportunities. The other is to join groups that are centred around the specific pain points of your ideal clients, such as business strategy or business management, and engage actively by providing value with your content and comments. According to John Hawkins the key is: “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.”
- Leverage Analytics: LinkedIn insights and analytics are such easy tools for you to see who is liking, commenting on, and sharing your posts. According to Hawkins, it then becomes easier for you to get back to those professionals who are engaging with your content and start a conversation that leads into your personal coaching business. And since these professionals already have a context for the conversation, they can be considered to be ‘warmed up’ when you reach out and connect.
Aside from reaching out to ‘warm leads’, you can utilise LinkedIn analytics to assess who is engaging most with your content, which content is working better than the others, and pinpoint which specific professional backgrounds your business appeals to. You can then leverage those insights to create and post content that you know these potential clients actually want to see.
- Stay Consistent & Show Patience: Once you’ve connected with your prospective clients, it is important to build a relationship and provide value over a period of time before segueing naturally into speaking about your services. There are two things you must avoid: one, to start speaking about your services immediately upon connecting – this comes across as spammy and puts people off very quickly. And two, to go completely quiet after a period of activity; Greg Cooper insists that you must get involved in conversations, leave comments, share things of relevance and put out content regularly. The key is to be patient and engaged.