LinkedIn is one of the fastest growing social media forums for business leaders. It serves as an online community to find new prospects, get to know your current clients better, and develop meaningful business connections. Consider these statistics:
“LinkedIn is one of the fastest growing social media forums for business. 26% of ultra-high-net-worth investors use LinkedIn.” – Northern Trust
“58% of US internet users that earn $50,000 per year are on LindedIn, while only 7% of those that earn less than $30,000 annually are.” – Marketing Land
“Linked In Tops all other Social Networks in Google Search Results.” – Small Business Chronicle
Trevor Turnbull in his blog, “Why Financial Advisors Can’t Afford To Ignore Linkedin”, supports this with the following graph that illustrates where most Investors go to research their decisions. “The opportunity to connect is limitless – the growth rate is more than two members per second – and with those new connections, the ability to grow your circle of influence, and leverage the platform to enhance your personal and professional brand.” (2)
LinkedIn’s Director of Financial Services, Dan Swift, gave an interview a year ago that discussed the value of Linked In for Financial Services.
“There’s a major opportunity for financial services professionals to make themselves more credible and attractive to buyers who are doing preliminary information-finding. Buyers are looking at your LinkedIn profile long before they reach out to you—57% of the typical buying decision is made before sales reps are involved. Therefore, the content on your LinkedIn profile is critical. Your profile should help educate buyers, improve your reputation, and differentiate yourself from the competition.
Think about a high net-worth individual who is comparing two financial advisors. One advisor’s profile contains a rich history of helping customers achieve their goals, along with pre-approved and compliant marketing content from the bank, links to the bank’s website, a photo, professional tagline, and contact information. The other profile has a name, the bank they work at, and maybe a photo. Who is the high net-worth individual going to reach out to?
Completing your profile is an easy and effective way to build credibility with prospective clients and deepen relationships with existing clients. If you’re looking to expand your business, then tailor your LinkedIn profile to the needs of a prospect doing research as opposed to a recruiter or a hiring manager. Don’t just cut and paste your resume. Take the time to think about your audience and what you want to share with them.”
Once you have a LinkedIn Profile you are probably thinking, “What Now?” Well let’s turn to what your main goals are. Kristen Andree in the blog post, “Using LinkedIn to generate leads,”(3) lists these for key points:
- Identify target markets
- Develop a solid profile
- Broaden your search
- Join Targeted Groups
We need to examine each of these and address the key principle that each one represents.
- Identify target market
You know who your client is so figure out what interests them. Where are they hanging out; and what keeps them awake at night? These things can help you narrow down where your client might be looking for you when they start researching a concern or idea.
- Develop a solid profile
Not only do you want to be visible with your brand, but you want to give a detailed description of what you provide. Be sure to work with compliance to build out your profile, not just as an advisor but as a person. Gather Testimonials and ask for reviews of a job well done from past clients. Be sure you reach out and friend all your clients, prospects and acquaintances. Add your community service and groups you are a part of in the community. Be reachable and approachable but avoid being pushy.
- Broaden Your Search
LinkedIn has some great tools to aid in finding new people in your niche. Not only are there groups and forums but you can also set up saved searches that you can run to find new contacts. And don’t forget you can always ask your clients for referrals and reach out to them through LinkedIn.
- Join Targeted Groups
Here is where the true magic of LinkedIn lives – through groups. You’ll want to start joining and participating in groups. You need to join the groups your target market is in, not just groups other financial advisors are in. These groups can be local groups in your town or statewide groups that have a larger reach. Look for business owners and people in your community that you can engage with on a personal level.
Once in these groups consider engaging by sharing information and general advice. In “8 things Financial Advisors SHOULDN’T Do on LinkedIn,” Crystal Thies reminds us that “The SEC and FINRA consider status updates to be ‘online interactive electronic’ content that requires oversight but not prior review. With that said, several large companies are still requiring pre-review or only allowing use of status updates from a pre-approved library.”(7) So look into your requirements but don’t let that scare you away from interacting with potential clients in these groups. Just try to avoid sales-related posts and stick with interesting tidbits and things you are passionate about.
This is the perfect way to position yourself as a thought leader in your industry and also to raise awareness about the different services available to people. It is important to inform of options even though you aren’t actually giving advice in the groups. This will raise awareness and keep you present in your community as a person to turn to when they have concerns and questions. If you touch on something valuable to a prospect, they will share it and then their friends will see the information, too. And we know what referrals do for your business.
So don’t be shy, invite your friends, your clients, and people in your community to join you on LinkedIn. Personalize your invite so they know it is really you and in some cases this can jog their memory about who you are and what you do. Just be sure to follow leading people in your industry so that you benefit from their knowledge and follow their example. When asked who his favorite people to follow were, Dan Swift responded,
“There are so many LinkedIn Influencers in financial services who are producing great content. Two of my favorites are John Thiel, Head of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management and John Taft, CEO of RBC Wealth Management. It’s inspiring to see people in such prominent positions in the financial services market sharing so much thoughtful content.
I also highly recommend that you follow Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn and Reid Hoffman, cofounder of LinkedIn. I’m probably biased, as I am fascinated by their approaches to compassionate leadership and entrepreneurship.”
So get started today working on building your LinkedIn community. With a little time and effort, you’ll find both business and client connections – as well as continuing to establish yourself as an industry leader.