If you are an independent professional, for example, a tax consultant or a software development consultant, you might be able to find a lot more clients using LinkedIn than you may think possible. All it takes is a smart strategy that you implement consistently.

Most people looking for clients on LinkedIn do two things: they fill their profile with salesy information on how great they are at their subject-matter, and they start to reach out to a lot of LinkedIn members pushing their sales pitch.

Great, right? Maybe not so. Try the strategy outlined below instead.

First of all, you need to prepare your LinkedIn profile. Make sure to fill in all parts of the profile to its maximum potential; i.e. write as much as you can in each section. This helps improve search rankings within LinkedIn. Remember, LinkedIn is a professional network, and so you want to come across as professional. Tacky jokes will not serve you well on LinkedIn.

Add a profile picture, and make sure it is a professional one too. Your photo from the beach party last year will not do you any good here. Also, make sure you add your most important search keywords at least once in each profile section – several times if it sounds natural to do so.

This is a great start, and you are now well ahead of most other people on LinkedIn.

Now, let’s consider your profile heading in some detail. If you are a tax consultant, you may write that you are a tax consultant in the heading field. If you are the CEO of a web design company, you likely write this in your heading.

While this appears completely natural, this is not what you want to do. Why? Because people viewing your profile will realize you will try to sell them something, and thus chose not to connect.

Instead, start by creating a LinkedIn group that is a perfect fit for your target audience. Try to make it sound prestigious, such that potential customers want to join the group. The key here is to make it interesting to them, not you.

If you are a tax consultant in York (Yorkshire, England), you may want to create the LinkedIn group “The York Business Owners Network”. Obviously, every business owner in York would like to join this LinkedIn group, to connect with peers. They are all potential clients for your tax consulting business. If you are a software development consultant, create the LinkedIn group “The Software Development Managers Network”. These are the people who might hire you. You get the idea.

What you do not want, is to create a group around your subject-matter expertise. If you are a marketing consultant, for example, do not create a group along the lines of “The Internet marketing network”. That will only attract other people interested in your subject, i.e. your competitors.

With a prestigious group, targeted at the interests of your perfect customers now created, we can now resume the discussion of what you want to write in your LinkedIn profile heading. Unless you have something else ultra-prestigious to tout, use the phrase “Founder of X”, where “X” is the name of your new group.

For example, “Founder of the York Business Owners Network” or “Founder of the Software Development Managers Network”. When a potential customer now views your profile, you will come across as trustworthy, an industry influencer and a peer, rather than someone who will likely try to sell something.

This makes all the difference! The simple trick of creating a LinkedIn group, which is free and takes a couple of minutes only, immediately turn you into someone important.

Having said that, the detailed LinkedIn profile description will obviously have to explain how great you are as a tax consultant or software developer. But do not tout that in the profile heading.

With a keyword-rich profile, using your “Founder of X” heading, you are ready to build a following. Now reach out to a few hundred potential customers on LinkedIn. You can use the advanced people search function, or find people who already are members of similar LinkedIn groups.

When you reach out to them, write something non-salesy about how you found their profile and found it interesting to connect. Provide as many details as you can. Do not provide any sales pitch at this point.

Make sure to end the message with the “Founder of X” title rather than “Tax consultant” or “Software development consultant”. Now you come across as an influencer and a real player in your industry, and a peer:

Hi X,

I saw your profile here at LinkedIn and thought it could be useful to connect as it appears we are both business owners in York. Let me know if that is OK with you.

Kind regards,

Your name
Founder of the York Business Owners Network

At least 50% of the LinkedIn members you try to connect with are likely to accept the invitation if you have done everything as outlined above. If they accept your invitation, send a second message, thanking them for connecting.

Hi X,

Thanks for connecting with me here at LinkedIn! It is great to get in touch with other business owners here in York! I am looking forward to exchanging experiences or help you if I can – for example by helping to extend your network.

Have a nice week!

Kind regards,
Your name

After a few days, invite them to join your LinkedIn group. This way, you will fill your LinkedIn group with potential customers, who all look up to you as an industry influencer and a real expert, because you are the group owner and their leader.

Publish posts that interest your target audience a couple of times each week in your LinkedIn group. Your group members will see your posts and are regularly getting exposed to your authority and insights.

The easiest way to provide value is to write short posts that simply recommend and link to interesting blog posts and articles you have found elsewhere on the internet. Buzzsumo is a great tool for this, or just Google for blog posts to recommend.

When you have managed to grow the group to a couple hundred members or more, you will start to see a lot of discussions going on in your group, and your group members invite their contacts, thus helping the group to grow further.

Since you are the group owner, consistently posting valuable content, you naturally come across as an authority to the group members.

Try to keep engaging with your new connections individually, and provide value a couple of more times within the next few weeks. After 7 or more touch points, reach out to them and ask for a phone call, or try to move the discussion from LinkedIn to your business email addresses, and continue from there.

At this point, you should be considered a trustworthy industry influencer, and it will be ever so much easier to reach out to the decision makers you have been struggling to reach before you used this strategy. Also the top brass who wouldn’t have given you the time of the day before.

Selling your services to your LinkedIn connections will now be a lot easier! Your LinkedIn connections will be primed for a sales call. All it takes is a smart strategy to follow, consistency and some patience!

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