I’m a big fan of LinkedIn and have been for the last decade. While some people (too quickly) dismiss it as just another route for recruiters to target your staff, I believe it offers significant benefits to financial planners in building and engaging a valuable network. However it’s not perfect, and as a follow-on piece to the above linked article, I think it’s useful to set out a few practices that people should avoid when using LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is not for selling
If you’re thinking about using LinkedIn for selling, think again. LinkedIn is a platform for setting out a professional profile on the web, building a valuable network and then engaging with this network over time. There is nothing worse than accepting a connection request, only for it to be followed by a sales pitch from my new connection. It is by far my number one gripe and will result in me not engaging with you…ever. Think about it – it’s like walking into a room, introducing yourself and then shoving your product or service in the other person’s face. You never do it in real life, don’t do it online either.
Never send out the stock LinkedIn connection request
This one is the second biggest sin in my book! I urge you to always personalise a connection request. If you know or have previously met your target connection, remind them of this. Otherwise find something in their profile or on their website which demonstrates that you want to connect specifically with them. It’s too easy and lazy to send out a bunch of standard connection requests hoping that some of them will land… but is that not just spam?
There’s no point being secretive and hidden
Remember that LinkedIn is a networking tool. This is important, and the best physical networks are ones where people are open with other, introduce new people, collaborate together and help each other. So why do some people keep their connections hidden online? I’ve been using LinkedIn for about 15 years now and still haven’t heard of a single example of a client being “stolen” or even approached, as a result of being identified as a connection of another adviser.
In this vein too, I always advise that you remain visible yourself and identifiable when looking at other people’s connections. What’s the harm in someone seeing that you are considering connecting with them or otherwise researching them? Is that not an integral part of networking?
Don’t leave your profile unfinished
This is one that we’re all guilty of. Review your profile regularly as this is your personal showcase on the web. Make sure the information is up to date and that you’re putting your best foot forward in each of the profile sections. LinkedIn make this very easy for you, by asking you all of the relevant questions in each of the sections.
One area in particular that carries a lot of weight and adds hugely to your profile is the Recommendations section. Why don’t you approach that recent, delighted client to whom you have just delivered clarity, valuable advice and a roadmap to achieving their financial goals. They will probably be delighted to recommend you, but they won’t think of it – you need to ask!
Less haste, more speed
It’s very easy to share updates on LinkedIn. But it takes a little bit longer if you want to maximise the impact of your posts and the value that you add. It is worth that extra minute or two to go and find a good image to use, as opposed to not using an image. Posts without images have far lower click rates. In the same vein, if you are sharing 3rd party content, add your own take on it or a question that you think it poses. It might take a minute to think of it and type it in, but it’s worth it rather than just sharing a link.
Don’t give up
It take time to build an effective network and to then engage your network. I’m a long-time user of LinkedIn and really believe that with a little bit of effort, it can pay big dividends. For me it has been a consistent and valuable source of new clients, and that is without ever “selling” on LinkedIn. Instead through trying to add value with what I hope is useful content, LinkedIn has got me on to radars that I otherwise probably would never have appeared.
It does take a little bit of time and some effort, but it’s worth it. If it’s not happening quickly for you, stick with it. It is worth persevering.