Social media is both a blessing and a curse. It’s brought the world that bit closer. Which means new opportunities, new contacts, new business. But the curse – it’s added more pressure to our already pressurised day.

However it’s an important networking and information tool, so we should be using it.

Deciding which social media platform to use for your business, in my eyes (and through the eyes of many experts) is a no-brainer. Certainly when it comes to service-based businesses like ours.

LinkedIn continues to grow. It now has over 200 million users. Over 64% of those are outside of the US. And 35% of users access the site daily. It really is a great place to network, build relationships and offer your services.

But I’ll be honest with you, I hadn’t managed to figure out the best way to network through LinkedIn to attract new clients. So I started doing my research, attending webinar’s and listening to podcasts to find out, so that in 2014 I can start using LinkedIn as the powerful business networking site it positions itself to be.

What you can do to improve your profile and attract new clients.

1. Figure out who your ultimate client is

Figure out who your target audience is. As a Virtual Assistant you may think you don’t have a specific audience, but the likelihood is that you do.

If you have a niche, then great. Do you work primarily with architects? Personal trainers? Life coaches? In which case, they are your target audience.

But don’t worry if your niche isn’t that specific. Perhaps you help small business owners in the UK. That’s still a niche. Particularly if you decide you want to help small business owners in a specific locality.

However you may not want to use LinkedIn as obviously as that. Perhaps you’re using it to grow your business by forming strategic partnerships. By approaching businesses where you can mutually benefit each other, you can also expand.

2. Include your keywords.

Once you’ve narrowed down your target audience, it’s time to write your profile with them in mind.

Think of keywords and phrases your ideal clients would use in a search. Don’t be too creative here. The idea is to keep it simple. If you’re a business owner or an architect or a life coach needing support, what would you type into the search facility?

Do some research and then include those keywords within your profile.

3. Engage with them.

Along with keywords, it’s also important to engage with your ideal client.

The easiest way to do this is to think of the kind of problems they face, then provide solutions to each of those problems. By doing so you will create a profile that they will relate to.

4. Make sure they realise they need you.

Many VA’s make the mistake of creating a LinkedIn profile as a business owner. That’s fine if you’re not using it to attract clients. But if you want to attract new clients, don’t put CEO or Founder or Business Owner as your professional headline. That’s not what people need. And more importantly that’s not what they’ll search for when looking for business support.

Instead use Virtual Assistant; Bookkeeper; Social Media Consultant; Copywriter; or whatever describes you best.

It’s not about trying to impress people with a fancy title. Don’t make it harder for yourself! It’s about using relevant keywords that they will use to find you, aka SEO – don’t just optimise your website, optimise all the different channels people will use to search for your service.

5. Be social.

Whilst LinkedIn isn’t somewhere you upload pictures of your night out with the girls, it’s still a social networking site. So it’s important to stay personal and real.

If you’ve read any of my previous articles, you’ll know I harp on a lot about the importance of building trust to strengthen and lengthen business relationships. Well, being you and ‘keeping it real’ will do just that.

Therefore write in the first person.

For example, instead of writing “Sarah is an experienced Virtual Assistant with a broad skillset able to assist business owners with tasks such as … “ my profile would state “I’m a Virtual Assistant who loves working with small business owners to provide valuable support so they can get on with the important task of running and growing their business…”

6. Tell them what you want them to do next.

Remember the cardinal rule of any sales message – and yes, your LinkedIn profile is one of your sales tools. Include a call to action.

If you want them to call you / email you / go to your website landing page and sign up to your mailing list – be clear and tell them to do it.

Don’t assume they’ll receive your telepathic messages.

7. Network.

Once your profile is working as hard as possible for you, it’s time to get out there and network. Join groups in your niche or industry type. Get involved in conversations, particularly those where you can provide insights or can add value.

When your target audience see you as helpful, or even better as an expert, they’ll come to you when they need support.

Conclusion for attracting clients using LinkedIn:

  • Be open.
  • Be clear.
  • Be assertive.
  • Target your networking.
  • Get better results.