Baton Rouge: “I don’t know how I can implement a LinkedIn strategy in my practice when I don’t even use LinkedIn much myself,” confessed Jason in the middle of our coaching session. “I have about fifty connections and I believe there is potential, I just don’t know where to get started.  I guess I’ve only dabbled with it.”

The moment Jason concluded his statement; we knew this was a topic worth exploring.  He, like many advisors, wasn’t really using LinkedIn to its fullest potential – he’s a dabbler.  He created an account a year ago that sits dormant in cyber space like a Yellow Page listing.   Ironically, LinkedIn and the web will most likely replace your standard Yellow Pages in a matter of years. 

When it comes to social networking sites, and LinkedIn especially, you get out of it what you put into it.  If you are a casual user who checks your profile a few times a month and gets zero business from LinkedIn, which serves to remind you that social media is worthless – you are exactly right.  However, if you dive in and implement a true strategy, then you can use it to bring in new business, deepen existing relationships and raise brand awareness.  You can go from dabbler to innovator if you have a plan.

We outlined the following key steps for Jason to get started with LinkedIn.   It’s important that you don’t skip any phase of the plan, as they all build on one another.

Phase 1: Build Your Profile

Spend some time on your profile.  After all, this is your first impression and your online brand is an extension of your real world brand.  Think of those first initial seconds that someone looks at your profile.  Do you have a professional photo, personalized URL, catchy headline, etc.?  Also, are you optimizing your profile to rank better in search results?  Your Headline, Experience, Summary, Website Links and Specialties should all be rich with key words. Think about what terms your prospects use to describe you and make adjustments in your profile. These are just a few of the ways to increase your ability to be found on LinkedIn.

Phase 2: Add the Right Connections

Are you connected to a number of other financial advisors on LinkedIn?  That’s what we hear from many advisors in our coaching.  We have three rules of thumb when it comes to building connections.

1.     Think quality over quantity

2.     Don’t connect with your competition

3.     If they would not return your phone call, don’t connect with them

Spend some time really building your connections.  When you run advanced searches in LinkedIn, your results will improve with the more connections you have.  The better quality of connections, the less filtering and scrolling you have to do. Lastly, use Tags to segment your connections and easily personalize messages.

 

Phase 3: Get Involved

With your profile in place and connections made, it’s time to get involved and start building your business.  Think about….

·       How frequently do you share an update on LinkedIn?  We recommend at least 2-3 times per week.

·       What updates are you going to share?  Updates can take the form of personal, helpful content, links to news articles, and more. Do you have compliance approved updates? If so, use them.

·       What groups are you involved with? These groups can be alumni groups (Baylor Alumni), professional groups (Certified Financial Planner Group), local groups (Greensboro Chamber of Commerce) or groups your prospects participate in (Physicians Network).

·       Are you looking for LinkedIn introductions on a regular basis?  What does your ideal introduction look like?  Have you thought of this ideal introduction in terms of Industry, Company, Position and Location? These are all searchable terms through LinkedIn under the Advanced Search feature.

Phase 4: Measure Your Results

Next you must determine how you will measure your success.  We recommend keeping the metrics simple and easily trackable.  Metrics such as…

·       New quality connections

·       Introductions to new prospects

·       Connection engagement with posts

Jason looked overwhelmed when we finished, but we assured him that it’s much easier than it appears.  Being a “dabbler” is going to give you “dabbler” results.  We encouraged Jason to stay ahead of the curve and follow the four phases we outlined.  If he can implement a plan and dedicate the time, he will be an active participant on LinkedIn – and strengthen and grow his business at the same time.

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