By Amy Sitnick.
I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with many advisors lately on social media – by phone and in-person at a recent Discovery Forum held on campus at SEI.
Nearly everyone recognizes the value of LinkedIn, but they’re now interested in going beyond just having a profile picture. How can they use it to brand their firm? How can they use it for business development?
As my good friend John Anderson says, if one person asks a question, 50 more people are usually wondering the same thing, but are afraid to ask.
Luckily, I’m an avid note-taker, and here are some of the most commonly-asked questions during my recent conversations with advisors:
1. I have a LinkedIn profile, but how do I build my connections?
You have a couple of options:
- One-by-One: Make it part of your sales process to connect with each person that you meet. And please, customize your LinkedIn connection request. Say why you want to connect with the person (that goes for requesting with me, too!). This is my top digital pet peeve.
- Bulk Uploads: Did you know that you can upload your client list into LinkedIn? And, it’s actually pretty easy! Only kicker – you have to “export” your client list from your CRM into a .csv file before you can upload into LinkedIn. Not to worry, though – the only key field that you need to be able to identify is the individual’s email address. Once you have a full list of email addresses, go to LinkedIn, and follow these simple instructions.
2. I get the value of reviewing my client’s connections as a way to identify potential introductions. However, some of my clients are connected to hundreds of people. What’s the most efficient way to review the people they know to see if someone might be a good fit for my practice?
Smart question. Rather than asking blindly if you could be introduced to a mythological referral, take 15 minutes to peruse your client’s LinkedIn connections. Of course, this is only helpful if your clients are C-suite executives or business owners who would actually use LinkedIn. If you’re targeting retirees, LinkedIn, in my opinion, is not as good of a business development source.
Here’s how it’s done:
- Click on your connection’s connections. A little “search” box will appear. You can cull down results by searching key words contained in a desired connection, including title – i.e., Entrepreneur or President (or even CPA, Accountant, etc.), company (especially if you target employees of a specific local company), or even a personal connection such a hobby (golf) or college.
There’s even an “Advanced Search” that appears once you’ve entered your search term:
So if you want to find out if your connection knows any fellow University of Pittsburgh alumni (go Panthers!) within a geographic territory, you can narrow down from there, as well.
3. Should I write in the first or third person when completing the various sections of my LinkedIn profile?
This is a personal preference, and I’ve heard both sides of the story. However, I much prefer when you speak in the first person. After all, this is your story. Don’t let it read as though it’s a formal resume. Speak as though you’re introducing yourself to your ideal prospect. Why are you different? This is free online real estate – use it to your advantage by explaining why you’re passionate about this industry in your Summary section. In the Experience section, list out all of the services that you provide to clients. Highlight all of your keyword-rich services, including financial planning, insurance, tax management, and more.
4. I have a LinkedIn profile, as do the other members of my firm. Shouldn’t they be consistent?
Yes! From your headshots, to your titles, to your firm overview and service description, you want to tell a similar story. That doesn’t mean that you can’t add your own flavor; add personal stuff like hobbies, your education and more – all specific to you as a person, and not just you from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
5. What LinkedIn groups should I join?
Join the groups where your potential clients are. What’s an easy way to identify the groups where they may be hanging out? Look at the LinkedIn profiles of your top five clients – and see what groups they are members of. There you go!
6. What should I post in my LinkedIn status updates?
Sure, you can post news articles, but the quickest and most engaging content might be what you do every single day for work. Highlight something that occurred that day that was of value. Did you attend a continuing education course? Attend a due diligence meeting from a vendor? Help a client with an estate plan? All of these show that you’re keeping up-to-date with the latest industry trends and finding new ways to help your client base.
What do you (and 50 others) want to know?
I’m considering starting an informal webinar series to provide a quick social media tip, and then take your questions. What do you think? Would this be something that you’d like to attend? If yes, what are your top questions?
This guest post was provided by Amy Sitnick, Senior Marketing Manager for the SEI Advisor Network and self-described social media addict. Connect with her on LinkedIn or follow her on Twitter now –@SEIAmyS.
Originally published April 8, 2014 on Practically Speaking. Reprinted with permission.