LinkedIn – Part 1: Building an effective profile

This is the first of a series of 3 articles on the subject of LinkedIn for financial advisers. These articles are going to cover the following;

  • Building an effective profile
  • Developing your LinkedIn network
  • Using LinkedIn to engage existing and prospective clients

Here are the steps to build an effective profile!

 

Introduction to LinkedIn

For those financial advisers not familiar with LinkedIn, now is the time to change that… Basically LinkedIn is your own personal website where other users can learn about you as a business person and connect with you. In my humble opinion, a strong presence on LinkedIn is no longer optional as more and more clients research financial advisers on LinkedIn and use it as an important source in determining the professionalism and credibility of advisers. If you’ve no presence, potential clients will wonder why.

LinkedIn was launched in 2003 as a social network for people in professional occupations. It has experienced explosive growth, now with over 225 million users worldwide in more than 200 countries, with membership growing at the rate of 2 people every second.  It underwent an initial public offering (IPO) in May 2011, with its shares opening at $45. These are currently trading at well over $200 per share, the company having a market cap in excess of $21bn. I fully expect that with this membership growth rate and the financial value of the business, it is here to stay…

While I’m not personally convinced that many users in Ireland are using LinkedIn to actually find a financial adviser, it is being used more and more by people to research an adviser before contacting you. So it is critical that your profile does you justice. The question is; how do you achieve this?

 

Take the help available

LinkedIn wants each of us to have as rich a personal profile as possible. To help us, it has a very useful feature called “Improve your profile”. This is a big blue button, up near the top of your profile, beside your photograph. Use this. It is LinkedIn’s way of guiding you through each section of your profile in turn and encouraging you to complete every section.

Your aim should be to fill that blue circle called “Profile Strength” in the right hand column as much as possible!

 

It’s not “once done, forever forgotten”

Your LinkedIn profile needs to be kept current. So if you change jobs, get a new qualification, pick up new skills or join any new networking groups etc., you should update this on your LinkedIn profile.

I encourage people to take 10 minutes every month or so to quickly read down through your profile. Is there anything to add or indeed just some language that could be strengthened?

 

Put up a photograph

There is no good reason not to put up a photograph! Any prospective client will want to know what you look like. The photograph should be a professional headshot, not one from a night out! Using a good photograph further enhances your credibility.

 

Your headline is very important

Apart from your name, this is the first section that people read so it is very important. You’ve 160 characters to say what you do. This is not “Managing Director of ABC Financial Services”. Instead it should explain what you do, particularly if you have a target market in mind, for example “Expert financial planner & retirement adviser for professionals and business owners in the Fingal area”.

 

The summary section is your elevator pitch

This is the first section below your photograph so again it is very important. I believe these are best written in the first person, as it makes it more personable and “from the heart”. The summary is your opportunity to set out what makes you different to other financial advisers, so to my mind this is where you talk about the expertise you offer, the client-focused approach that you use, the value gained by your rigorous advice process. This is where a prospective client will think (or not) that you are the type of person they want to work with.

 

Recommendations are great!

LinkedIn recommendations are hugely valuable as they come from real people, offering strong feedback on your services. Value these as they are a great endorsement for you personally and are a great asset in attracting potential clients.

Less valuable are endorsements, which are simply “one click” endorsements of particular skills that you have. These are much easier to give and get and so are much less valuable than recommendations. However I don’t discount them totally, as they offer a bit more colour to your LinkedIn profile.

 

The rest is important too!

And then it’s a case of filling in the rest of fields, giving other LinkedIn users a real sense of your experience, your interests and why they should have you in their network. Make the content as rich as possible, adding links to your website, other social media assets and now you can also add presentations, videos and publications. All of this makes your profile more engaging.

 

And what about search results?

Having a content rich profile will help you to show up higher in LinkedIn search results. In fact by including keywords such as “financial planner Ireland” in as many fields as possible on your profile, this will help you achieve a higher position in search results for those keywords. As mentioned earlier, I’m not convinced as yet though that people in Ireland are using LinkedIn to find a financial adviser. In my view they are using it more for research purposes of advisers that were recommended to them.

In any event, having a strong profile is worth the effort and is a cornerstone of optimising your presence on LinkedIn. Over some upcoming blog posts I’ll look at building your LinkedIn network and using LinkedIn to engage people.

If there are any specific questions that you have in relation to LinkedIn, please don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments below.