Nothing bothers me more than a LinkedIn connection request that asks for help immediately. The moment you accept, your new connection sends you a message that they need your assistance or have a product that’s perfect for you.  For me, this comes across as disingenuous, self-serving, and salesy. The point of connecting (especially on LinkedIn) is to build mutually beneficial relationships, which may take some time.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t recommend endlessly waiting to discuss business, but looking for immediate gratification on social networks can come across desperate. One of the best pieces of social media advice I can give is “slow play your connections.”

This holds true for financial advisors using social media. I understand that social media can be an exciting new venture – a shot in your marketing plan’s arm. But if you are connecting with clients on LinkedIn or friending CPAs on Facebook, don’t abuse this privilege.  They are opening up an invaluable world to you - an open rolodex.  I’m not saying you should never ask for a LinkedIn introduction (I think you should) but I am saying that before leveraging a LinkedIn connection for marketing purposes, ask yourself…

·       How long have we been connected online?

·       Have I added value to this connection?

·       Have I had a conversation about using social media with this connection (especially clients and COIs) offline?

Remember, social media is modern day networking.  If you just met a new COI at a Rotary meeting, would you ask for a referral right away?  I hope not.  So why are social networking websites any different?  Don’t connect just because you want something immediately.  Connect because you see a greater synergy in the future.

Kevin Nichols is a thought-leader with The Oechsli Institute, a firm that specializes in research and training for the financial services industry.  Follow him on twitter @KevinANichols   www.Oechsli.com