This is the third of 3 articles about LinkedIn, and in this one we examine how you get LinkedIn actually working for you to help drive your business forwards.
In the first article we looked at how you build up an excellent profile, to position yourself to get LinkedIn working for you. In the second, we looked at how you expand your network to build audiences to allow you leverage the real power of LinkedIn. Now we look at how you actually use the platform.
The key to using LinkedIn successfully is to realise that it is not a tool for selling. If you sell, you lose! Instead LinkedIn is all about building engagement… and this engagement in turn helps you build stronger relationships, establishing you as a valued expert, which in turn can lead to significant sales opportunities.
You see, as you build influence, you actually don’t need to sell. By positioning yourself as an expert and making people aware of the breadth of your services and the quality of your opinion, your audience will automatically gravitate towards you when they have a need in your space.
To build engagement, you must add value. The value that you can add is through influencing your network, through the provision of expert, valuable content. By becoming the spokesperson in your network about all topics relating to financial planning, advice and personal financial services. By becoming the go-to person when your network has any query in relation to your areas of expertise.
Is that it? It’s all about content?
Well actually no, there are more opportunities than that. But content does sit at the heart of adding value through LinkedIn. There are really two types of content that you need to consider and both are equally required.
First of all there is original content. This is content that you write yourself. Like this article, you might not be the first person to write about a topic, but crucially you are putting your own spin on the subject and trying to make it relevant for your particular network. As a financial adviser, you could consider writing about market changes, developments in the investment world, helping your network to make sense of legislation changes that will affect their personal finances. You can help them improve their business, solve a problem or it may be as simple as helping them improve their personal financial habits! There are endless subjects to write about. You only need to write short articles, maybe 700 – 1000 words, house the articles on your website and then share the articles out via LinkedIn.
The second type of content is curated content. This is content that you come across on the web, written obviously by someone else that you believe your network would be interested in reading. Sharing this content can make you a valuable conduit within your network, educating them, providing them with useful information, further establishing your position of value and positioning you as the person to talk to when they have a query or issue in the financial services space.
However a word of caution; I suggest you can’t have one without the other. There are many users of LinkedIn who only share curated content and never write anything themselves. While this is obviously better than nothing, their connections will wonder – what do these people actually think themselves, are they an expert or are they only good at spotting other expert writing? As a result, while their intentions are good, these people will struggle to build up a position of influence, as they are not really putting their own heads above the parapet at all…
It’s about more than content
Beyond sharing content, LinkedIn offers you lots of opportunities to engage your network and further build your role as an expert voice. There are a number of ways of increasing your visibility, while also adding value;
- Comment on your network’s updates: When you see an update posted by member of your network that was particularly interesting or useful, leave a comment! So many people just don’t bother and miss a great opportunity. In the same vein, if you disagree vehemently with an update, don’t be afraid to leave a comment. Once you leave it respectfully, you are further positioning yourself as a person of opinion and your views worthy of consideration.
- Introduce people within your network: An example – someone in your network is looking for a marketing specialist. Introduce them to me! I will be forever in your debt and will make sure I return the favour many times over. And the same will apply to others. These are referrals you provide without being sought, and will earn you significant engagement with people in your network.
- Be visible in groups: There are approx. 1.8 million groups now on LinkedIn with over 4,000 of these in Ireland alone. Surely there is an opportunity in there for you to become an influencer? Find a group that potentially will be fertile ground for you to build connections (and in time new clients) and then start participating in the group. Post content, comment on discussions, ask questions. Be an active participant.
These are some of the ways that you can use LinkedIn to build influence, create engagement, build stronger relationships and ultimately help ease your path to sales. LinkedIn offers huge opportunities for financial advisers, and more and more of you are demonstrating your commitment to this platform every day. Consumers at the end of the day don’t want to be sold to all of the time and LinkedIn offers you that chance to build a relationship with them, with a view to developing sales opportunities in the future. Oh and don’t forget, it is free – all it costs is some of your time.
If you have any comments about this article or indeed the earlier articles about LinkedIn, please leave them below.