Magnifying glassOn Facebook today, as part of the process of my participating in Problogger Darren Rowse’s 7 day blogging challenge “Find Your Blogging Groove”, I invited people to ask me a question as a basis for a blog post.

My Florida-based friend Phil Gerbyshak, social selling speaker, social media trainer, technology evangelist and business coach, obliged with this great question:

How do you choose your target market for coaching and how do you find and connect with them on LinkedIn?

For me, the best thing about this question was that I didn’t have a quick, ready-made answer. It made me think!

So there are two parts to the question:

    • How do I choose my target market for coaching?
    • How do I find and connect with them on LinkedIn?

How do I choose my target market for coaching?

The short answer to this is that my target market is where my ideal client is. And for me, especially as I don’t live in or near a big city, that usually means where is he or she online, specifically on social media.

In general terms, my ideal client is a business owner or senior executive, man or woman, English-speaking, usually between the ages of 30 and 60, who is ready, willing and able to take me on as a coach and who is someone I am confident of being able to help get transformative results from being coached by me. He or she also needs to be comfortable with the idea of distance coaching, via online video, audio or phone.

My coaching specializations are: executive leadership, social media strategy, and LinkedIn for business growth. So my prospective clients will be wanting to be focused on one or more of those.

How I Find and Connect with My Target Market on LinkedIn

 

The main ways I find and connect with my target market on LinkedIn are:

  • Advanced Search
  • Groups
  • Who’s Viewed My Profile
  • Updates (“Activity” in LinkedIn speak)
  • Keeping in Touch
  • Tagging

Although in terms of actual business I have gained from LinkedIn over the years, it might be better to say how my target market finds me, rather than how I find them – in other words, inbound marketing, attracting rather than seeking. The corollary is that I put more focus on being present, being involved and engaged with others, so that I am found on search and noticed “in action”, than on actively seeking out people to connect with. In short, social selling.

In that regard, a key element for connecting, and maybe the key element, is my professional profile. I put a lot of effort into ensuring that my profile tells my marketing story as well as I can make it, and that it has the appropriate keywords, at a level which is optimal for search, but not at the “keyword stuffing” level. I want to be sure that when my profile is found it represents well what I do and my “brand promise”.

Advanced Search

It’s quite amazing how much information you can gather about your target market, from adjusting the various filters on Advanced Search. You can get very specific about geo-location, professional expertise, company roles, and so on.

Groups

LinkedIn is constantly changing/restricting the functionality of its groups, but they are still a valuable way to find and connect with a target market. There are over 2 million groups, covering a very wide range of professional and other  interests. Some are a waste of time, some are long past their use-by date, but a focused, disciplined search can yield some valuable groups for social selling purposes. The key is to participate generously, being interested in what other members are doing and saying, and being helpful, not pushy.

Who’s Viewed My Profile

If other users have found your profile there is a good chance that at least some of them may be prospective clients, or perhaps people you can collaborate with. Why not get in touch? I haven’t used this a lot but I know others who find making contact with those people has proven very effective.

Updates (“Activity”)

My aim is to post at least one update a day and preferably two to three, and to comment on and share others’ updates. This is part of the “being present, being involved” part of social selling.

Keeping in Touch

LinkedIn gives me alerts every day to send greetings for birthdays, work anniversaries, and new jobs. I get plenty of appreciative notes in return. Note that the “new job” notices sometimes mean just that someone has edited their profile, so it pays to check!

Tagging

Like Keeping in Touch, tagging is focused on maintaining and reinforcing relationships with existing connections. The tagging feature gives us scope to see “at a glance” people in our network whom we have identified as being of particular interest for one or other reason, say profession, or location, or closeness of association – we define the tags we want to use.

A Question for You, Dear Reader

Can you add to this? I’d be happy to learn about other ways of finding, connecting with and engaging people from my target market, specifically on LinkedIn but if you have suggestions for other social media platforms, please feel free to share.

BloggingGroove

This post is the second in a series of seven over this week, as part of my participation in the ProBlogger Challenge Group, with the theme “Find Your Blogging Groove”. It’s open to all, from newbie bloggers to seasoned ones, and instigator Darren Rowse has attracted a great group of people, over 1,369 at this time and growing. Why not join us? Here is the Facebook Group link.

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Image Credit: illustration_view-people-magnifier by andrea-prieto, via Flickr , CCBY-SA 2.0

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Des Walsh is an executive coach. He helps business owners and entrepreneurs worldwide deal effectively with the feeling of being left behind or overwhelmed, or both, about social media – especially LinkedIn - and how to engage safely and effectively with social media to help grow their business. Connect with Des on LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter. And to stay in the loop, get Des’s weekly Social Business Bites (select snippets of his "best of the week" online finds).