Many of my clients are self-employed individuals or if you prefer the latest lingo “solopreneurs”. They derive at least part of their income from their own entrepreneurial efforts.
For others part-time income through consulting or owning their own business is a big part of their long-term retirement income plan.
If you work for yourself, it’s hard to ignore the potential of business networking sites like LinkedIn. LinkedIn boasts over 250 million users; over half a million here in the Twin Cities. Yet many self-employed people underestimate the potential of LinkedIn to help them grow their business.
When I talk to self-employed people about LinkedIn many of them tell me they are too busy or that it doesn’t apply to their business or, more honestly, they admit they just don’t get it. If that describes you, I encourage you to think twice about LinkedIn and what role it should play in your marketing plan.
Over the past year or so I have tried to understand LinkedIn better. I am far from being an expert, but as my mother likes to say “ I do know a few things”.
Following are a few things that I know about LinkedIn that you might find helpful. At the end of the blog post is an invitation to learn more about how LinkedIn can help you grow your business.
First, you might not be active on LinkedIn, but your prospects and competitors are. Last fall I met with a new referral for the first time. Helen was referred to me by my client, Karen. Helen mentioned that after she got my name from Karen, she went straight to LinkedIn to learn more about me – not to my website.
Only after doing her research on LinkedIn did Helen decide to contact me for an appointment. Had I not been active on LinkedIn, this referral would have never reached out to me. How many referrals are you missing out on?
Second, LinkedIn is a great search tool. OK, so maybe you are a referral only business and don’t need LinkedIn to find your next client. Congratulations. But what if there was a very specific group of people that you were especially well suited to work with? Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way you could not only define this target market, but actually see who these people are and get to know a little bit about them before you begin your networking? Not only can you find them on LinkedIn, but you can save your search for later use.
Let me give you an example. I work with a wide variety of clients, but one of the niche areas I really enjoy is self-employed people. Whether they are artists, sales people or consultants, solopreneurs share a unique set of financial needs that I understand very well – especially since I am one myself.
Using LinkedIn I can identify 781 people within 10 miles of my office who are 2nd degree connections in my network, meaning we know at least one person in common. These people also describe themselves as “owners” of businesses with 10 or fewer employees. Another plus.
781 people is way too many to deal with, so I focused my search on those who also list “Management Consulting”, “Design” or “Information Technology” in their profile. Now I am down to a more manageable list of 111 individuals that may fit my target market. Now the real networking can begin.
On the flip side, your next client may use LinkedIn to search for you. How will they find you and when they do, what will they see?
Third, LinkedIn can help you communicate with your target market. Even if your prospect pipeline is full and you have more business than you can handle, LinkedIn is a great way to define your brand and stay in touch with your existing clients and prospects. Every time I post to my blog, the post is pushed to LinkedIn. From there it goes to my 500+ contacts for them to read and share.
I imagine most of the time it probably doesn’t go too far, but it could. According to LinkedIn, my 566 connections link me to 10,631,891 other professionals. I have to believe that somewhere in that 10 million is a person who just may be in the market for a financial planner that helps self-employed people cross the bridge to a confident retirement.
More importantly, my list of connections includes a growing number of people who fit one of the niche areas that I serve best – including solopreneurs. Even if it’s a long shot, LinkedIn puts me in a position where I have a chance to be the right person in the right place at the right time.
How to learn more. To learn more about how LinkedIn can help you grow your business, join me on Thursday, May 15th from 11:30 a.m as I host Powerhouse Profiles & Profitable Prospecting with Kari Switala of Wild Fig Marketing.
In this free workshop you will learn:
- How to create a powerhouse profile that speaks directly to your IDEAL client
- How to use advanced prospecting strategies
- How to increase the number of referrals you receive
Seating is limited. Lunch is provided. For more information or to register, click here.