Los Angeles: “I’m not sold on this social media fad” stated Joe in a skeptical manner. He continued, “I see how it make sense for some businesses, but I am not convinced that financial advisors get much value from it. I mean this is a relationship business, thousands of ‘followers’ doesn’t do me any good. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I think it’s just a time waster.”

As we are out speaking on the topic regularly, we hear this from many advisors like Joe. When it comes to social media, advisors have a resounding question, “How do we actually use it and how do we get value from it?” We decided to answer this question in this week’s FastTrack for Growth newsletter by giving you real ways our clients use social media every day. The following are 10 simple ways to leverage the intelligence you gather through social media and some simple ideas on converting online connections into real-life clients.

1. Accelerate Rapport

User profiles are overflowing with information. Are you using it? Knowing some intimate details about your clients and prospects will allow you to engage them in more meaningful conversations to get them talking about their favorite subject...themselves!

2. Get Introduced

Being able to pinpoint specific introductions is one of the biggest benefits to using social media. This is sourcing names on steroids! Now you know who they are connected to and can come up with a creative way to penetrate their Centers-of-Influence.

3. “WOW” Your Clients

The information you collect online regarding your clients and prospects can easily be turned into small thoughtful gifts to earn client loyalty and engage the law of reciprocity. Check their profile for any special interests or associates that could be used as gift ideas.

Real World Example:

Monitoring the “News Feed” section on Facebook, one advisor noticed that a client had posted “Mrs. Smith is planning a trip to the Mediterranean”. Taking a note of the information, he jumped on Amazon.com and ordered a travel guide to assist in her trip planning. The client was thrilled with the gift and brought him back a souvenir from the trip.

4. Monitor Turnover

Whenever an update is made to one of your contact’s profiles, LinkedIn lets you know about it by sending you a “Network Update.” When one of your 1st degree connection’s changes their job title or status, from an advisor standpoint that means one word... “roll over”. You can reach out to that contact and set up a meeting to discuss.

Real World Example:

An advisor we worked with used this very tactic to land some easy accounts. As unemployment rates skyrocketed in his community, he logged into his LinkedIn account daily and monitored the job status of his contacts. He noticed a local executive, former acquaintance from their son’s soccer league, who was in the market for employment. He decided to give him a call, set up a lunch and he ended up closing him for the rollover.

5. Be a Resource

As you gather intelligence online, you will start to learn what is of interest to your clients and prospects. Understanding their issues, you can post “status updates” that are useful to your target market and subtly remind them that you are a resource in that area. Posting your “status” on a regular basis is a great way to stay in front of your clients and customers without coming across too pushy - but it starts with knowing their issues.

6. Answer Questions

Joining groups, contributing, and answering questions will help you understand your prospect’s needs, get you more online exposure, and help position you as the expert. Contribute readily and reap the rewards!

7. Identify Colleagues of Clients and COIs

Running a company search on LinkedIn will allow you to see your client’s and COI’s colleagues and help you identify the connections (i.e. HR Director, COO, etc.) that you want to meet. Refer back to the section on searching company profiles for details on engaging the search.

8. Attract Strategic Alliance Partners

LinkedIn in particular is all about business networking. Thus, running searches for CPAs, Attorneys, and any other noncompeting professionals in your community and then finding a mutual connection to help initiate contact is a lot easier.

Real World Example:

An advisor we worked with had just moved communities and was having a hard time building out his network - he knew no one! Starting from ground zero, he joined LinkedIn and searched for CPAs in the area. Sifting through the results he identified a mutual connection to a CPA in town through a former colleague. He made a personal call to his former colleague to inquire about this CPA friend and set-up a personal introduction. Networking made easy.

9. High Touch

Social media websites allow you to maintain a consistent connection with your contacts and keep the conversation going. Make comments on their posts and send messages from time to time. Your goal is to maintain consistent contact and to be fully prepared to pounce on business opportunities.

Real World Example:

One of our coaching clients was very diligent in her social media efforts. Whenever she would meet an acquaintance from any networking function whom she ultimately wanted to prospect, she would quickly go back to her office and search for them online and connect with them through social media. "Because we’ve already met face-to-face ,it’s not awkward for me to ask to connect. Once we connect online I am in constant contact with them."

10. Connect Your Connections

Look for ways that you can add value to your connections by linking them with other professionals to create synergies. Creating such goodwill makes it much more likely that your connections will reciprocate.

Obviously, you can’t tackle all of these in one social media session. Select a few of the above and try putting them to use. You will be amazed at how easy and valuable social media can be, but using social media on a regular basis is the only way to harness its power.

If you’re not using social media currently, get started by creating a LinkedIn account and connecting with your clients, (reputable) friends, COIs and prospects. Advisors like Joe, unless they make swift course corrections, are going to be left behind in this increasingly digital world.