LinkedIn has a staggering amount of more than 400 Million members worldwide that use their platform for various professional purposes. In more than 200 countries and territories, two new users join the social media platform per second (DMR, 2015). Not a bad network to expose yourself to. But yet, professional athletes seem to think that this platform is of lesser value to them than Instagram, Youtube or even, oldie but goodie, Facebook. Just recently I was asked why athletes should be using LinkedIn. So let’s look at the benefits of LinkedIn for athletes, shall we?
It’s time for athletes to realize the full potential of LinkedIn for their long-term career goals and transition process. LinkedIn can be your launching pad to achieve long-term career success. Where else can you directly engage with decision makers and sponsors while developing your brand outside of your typical fan base.
Here are six reasons why every athlete should be using LinkedIn right now
Find experts and business partners
Having an up to date profile and actively engaging on LinkedIn provides different networking opportunities for athletes than other social media networks. While Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and the likes might feed the interest of your active fans, LinkedIn can help you engage with experts in areas such as finances, investment, nutrition, physical therapy, sports psychology and more. Furthermore, it is hands-on down the easiest way for an athlete to interact with key decision makers or collaboration partners for potential side projects like charity or non-profit work, public speaking engagements, or business partnerships.
Create more traffic
One of the most overlooked reasons to be present on LinkedIn is the amount of additional traffic it can create to other social media platforms or your website. Creating traffic and increasing exposure and visibility are key attribute in building a personal brand as a professional athlete. Cross-posting articles, interviews and opinion pieces from your website or other news media on LinkedIn can invite a professional audience of influence to visit your website. 70% of LI users are outside of the U.S. (DMR, 2015). You are missing out on huge international exposure and global traffic by not using LinkedIn.
While you can certainly actively reach out to find collaboration partners or sponsors, a well-written, keyword-optimized LinkedIn profile might just do that for you. LinkedIn has enormous search capabilities, and the platform is being searched for skills, industries and potential clients just as much as role models, speakers and endorsement deals. Building a network of influential decision makers and business men and women can lead to more people being able to find your profile. Additionally, LI profiles show up high on a google search for your name due to its amazing ranking and stats. A well-maintained LI profile will identify you as someone that is determined, skilled beyond the sport and aware of the power of branding. Ask yourself which platform a potential sponsor frequents him- or herself.
Stay up to date
Besides all the benefits of professional branding and networking, LinkedIn has grown into a huge online library of self-development opportunities. You may follow thought leaders in an area of interest, join groups for professional exchange and discuss trends and controversies. This can in return tremendously improve your understanding and knowledge of the industry. Read articles on LinkedIn Pulse, check out Slideshare presentations, or join a course on Lynda, all part of the incredible LinkedIn business network.
One day your active athletic career will pass. Get ready for your post-active career by building relationships on LinkedIn for the long run. Think about industries and companies that you would be interest in, reach out to professionals early in your career to create rapport, ask questions, and build a mentoring relationship. Your LinkedIn network will help you tremendously in your active job search and post-retirement options. It should be mentioned that it helps to add connections from your active sports career to your LinkedIn network on an ongoing basis. Coaching staff, former team mates and club managers can all become allies, give useful references, and serve in introducing you to others in their network.
Show that you are more than your sport
A big misconception that athletes have to deal with is that their reputation and identity is linked to their athletic performance. Optimize your LinkedIn profile to showcase other skills, interests, social engagements or entrepreneurial endeavors. Use the opportunity to show your professional side and that you are more than just your sport.
Still hesitating about yet another network? If you are at all interested in fostering long-term career success, don’t miss out on LinkedIn. All it takes is to sign up and start reaching out to your existing network. As an athlete, what do you have to lose? Build a professional network that will exist far beyond your active sports days and can become the foundation for a successful brand and career.