With social media and social networking sites being “in vogue” when it comes to marketing brands and business, why shouldn't personal trainers get in on the action?
Facebook and Twitter are held up by many as the social channels that will help a business to grow and manage their online network, but LinkedIn is also a powerful, often forgotten channel, that is ideally suited for PT’s looking for tools to help run and grow their business.
So, how can you utilise LinkedIn for the most benefit?
Some of the below features can only be accessed by upgrading your LinkedIn accounts – that said, I strongly suggest upgrading as the features are absolutely worth it. I know that most of us are accustomed to using social media sources for free and LinkedIn is no different, but an upgraded account gives you several excellent tools for not only growing your network but helping you to manage them.
First off, though, you have to start social networking! It seems crazy to say it but, one of the simplest ways of using LinkedIn it to ensure your profile is complete and to get networking, but most people don’t even get this far. Step one, fill in your profile and include as much detail as possible, including past experience and a professional profile picture; this isn't Facebook so a picture of you necking a pint of beer won’t be the best idea! When filling in your profile try to apply a liberal scattering of keywords related to what you do, so for PT’s including the words “personal trainer” or your specialist area are a must. By ensuring your profile is 100% complete and including specific keywords you are far more likely to appear when users search both LinkedIn and perhaps more importantly Google.
How else can you start networking? Go and find groups related to Personal Training, join them and then take part in the regular discussion happening there amongst other like-minded individuals. The easiest way to find these is to use the search facility at the top of your LinkedIn screen. By doing this I managed to find an active PT’s group that is full of networking potential and even leads.
LinkedIn InMails give you the capability to directly message anyone that you uncover throughout the social network. These are far less spammy and cold than most regular direct correspondence, as the recipient can access information related to you instantly to check you out. My suggestion for getting the most out of InMails is to keep your messages short and personal, so that the recipient understands this isn't a message you are sending out in bulk and they can digest it very quickly.
In order to find users, who you will contact via InMails simply repeat the search process you used to find PT groups to find people local to you that are potentially relevant as prospects and also your current clients. If you have an upgraded account this process will be far easier as you will be able to see more results when you search, use advanced search filters to make the results far more specific to you and these can be separated into folders for easier network management and recall at a later date.
Another upgrade feature is a saved search capability that will email you automatically if a new user appears on LinkedIn that meets your particular search filters, very similar to Google Alerts and takes away a lot of the time consuming search required. So, you have now got your profile sorted and have begun networking, but how do you make sure that when users visit your profile they are completed to get in touch?
Recommendations are the key! Very similar to a reference on your CV, a recommendation can come from anyone in your network, and highlights the amazing job you have done as a PT for them. The easiest way to get recommendations is simply to ask, or alternatively offer to swap recommendations with users that you network with; obviously if you can justify doing so. Again try to ensure that your recommendations include the keywords you chose previously (personal trainer, etc), which will help with your placement on LinkedIn search.
One of the greatest features, which again is only available on an upgraded account, is that you can see who has looked at your profile. This gives you the capability to see if all the hard work you have put in above is working. Are you appearing for searches for “personal trainers” and if so, who is looking at your profile? This will in turn mean you can then contact anyone who is snooping at you as a potential client.
Finally, if you have a website or blog, you can download a ‘View my profile on LinkedIn’ badge to display on your homepage. Several variations of the badges are available to download and as soon as you paste the code into your webpage the LinkedIn graphic will click straight through to your profile. This is a great way to market yourself and it allows people to find out about you in a much more efficient manner.
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