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How can financial advisers use LinkedIn to expand their client network

Financial Advisory

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LinkedIn is a powerful online social networking tool for professionals. More professionals are active and engaged in LinkedIn, than ever before. Professionals actively use LinkedIn to explore career opportunities, expand their professional networks and share updates with their network. If independent financial advisers can build an impressive presence on LinkedIn, then they can tap into this vast professional network and expand their client network over a period of time. Financial advisers can refer to a substantial amount of business literature available online that explains how you can effectively use social media to expand your client network. Almost all social media marketing experts suggest that you need to position yourself as an “influencer” to expand your visibility in your network. Also, social media experts are almost unanimous in their view that building influence in social media takes time and effort. Therefore one should not expect overnight results. The topic of social media marketing is too vast and complex to be covered in one blog or even a book. In this article, we will share some useful tips on how independent financial advisers (IFAs) can use LinkedIn, which is one the most powerful social media resources, to drive more leads and build new client relationships for your business.

  • Build a powerful LinkedIn Profile:

    The first step of building your presence on LinkedIn is to create a powerful LinkedIn profile. Do you know there are nearly 200 million LinkedIn people searches every day? If you have powerful profile you can show up in searches based on location, expertise, experience and network connections. Here are some tips for building your LinkedIn profile

    • Your Professional Headline:

      Your professional headline is an important component of your LinkedIn visibility. It is what people see, when you show up on search results. LinkedIn gives you 160 characters to write your professional headline. You should make it count. Your professional headline should showcase your service offering and your personal brand. LinkedIn can help you by showing examples of what others in your industry are doing.

    • Your Profile Photograph:

      This is another important component of your LinkedIn profile. You should upload a professional passport size photograph. You should not crop your image from another photograph, since it may look unprofessional, no matter how much care you take in editing the photo.

    • Your Profile Summary:

      This an important section of your LinkedIn profile. Use this section to expand on your offerings, your product expertise, your client profile, your key accomplishments and most importantly, your value proposition. LinkedIn uses very sophisticated search algorithms. Use keywords wisely in your profile summary, since they will help you come up more often, not just on LinkedIn searches but also Google searches. But do not go overboard on keywords and industry jargons, because it can have a negative impact as well. You should write your profile summary in first person. Financial advisory business is based on personal relationships. Writing your profile summary in first person conveys that impression.

    • Experience:

      The next section in your LinkedIn profile is Experience. Make this section informative but concise. I have seen lots of LinkedIn profiles in my fairly extensive LinkedIn network. I have noticed how some profiles are extremely verbose. It is tempting to write about all the accomplishments and experiences that you think are important and interesting. Bear in mind that your LinkedIn profile is not your autobiography. What you think is important and interesting, may not be so important or interesting for your prospective clients. Therefore, focus on the points that will be relevant for your existing and prospective clients. It is not an easy task, but the best thing about LinkedIn is that, you can search and look up the profiles of other financial advisers, not just in India but globally. You can learn from best-in-class examples.

    • Complete Profile:

      LinkedIn tells us that a complete profile gets more views than an incomplete profile. You should complete your profile as close to 100% as possible. Your LinkedIn profile will expand your digital visibility. You should make sure you get the maximum possible visibility by completing your profile. You should write about your skills in your profile and endorsements from your clients. You should also add links to your website and blogs to drive traffic to them. LinkedIn also has some amazing features, which enables you to add your presentations and even videos. Video is a very popular online trend that you can be leveraged through LinkedIn.

  • Update your LinkedIn Profile on regular basis:

    Your LinkedIn profile is dynamic resource. You should update it on a regular basis. Your network connections will get notified whenever your profile is updated. This will help you stay visible in your network and enhance your reputation. Keep your profile updated with new accomplishments, recognitions, awards, fresh endorsements and recommendations from your clients and business associates. A smart way of getting endorsements is by endorsing others in your network, and they will in turn, most likely, endorse you. But do not be pushy with clients or business associates in asking for recommendations and endorsements. LinkedIn upgrades its capabilities on a regular basis. You should take advantage of any useful new feature that LinkedIn offers to its users to fully leverage LinkedIn capabilities.

  • Build a strong LinkedIn network:

    Building a strong LinkedIn network takes time. You obviously start by transferring your email contacts to LinkedIn. Once you setup your profile, LinkedIn will prompt you transfer your email contacts to LinkedIn. The key to business success in social networking is to expand your network beyond your immediate network of clients and business associates. LinkedIn lets you view second connections. In other words you can view the connections of people, who are connected to you. Carefully study the network of your clients and see who you want to connect with in your client’s network. These will be prospective leads and clients for you. At the beginning you will have to proactively send invitations to grow your network. When you invite someone to connect with you on LinkedIn, it is good idea to send a personalized invitation that states why you want to connect with him, instead of sending the default LinkedIn invite. For example, you can mention a common connection or complement the person or any other reason. But do not make your LinkedIn invite a sales pitch. This may put off people, unless they are desperate to use a service that you offer. Use LinkedIn’s "people you may know" tool, to identify potential new connections.

  • Quality matters more than quantity:

    There is no point having a network of 5000 connections, if you are not able to leverage it for your business. Are your connections relevant to your target market? Do they live in the same city? Can you do business with your connections? Can you help your connections achieve their financial objectives? People who are well renowned and influential in their communities, professional and business circles, make great connections. Examples are senior public servants, senior executives, successful entrepreneurs, media personalities, well renowned doctors, lawyers, chartered accountants etc. Such people can not only help you expand your network on LinkedIn and but enhance your reputation online influence.

  • Share content on LinkedIn:

    Let us revisit the original theme of this article. How can independent financial advisers leverage LinkedIn to expand the client network and build their business? We had discussed earlier in the article that you need to position yourself as an "influencer" to expand your visibility in your online network. You should share content on the network that will be of value to your network connections. The content can be from your own blog or some other financial and investment blog or an article in an online journal or even a news item. This will definitely build your credibility within your network. It is possible that in the initial period of your social media journey, you may struggle with what to share with your network. There are lots of common interest groups in LinkedIn like groups of investment professionals, insurance advisers, tax professionals etc. You should join these groups and get engaged in the discussion forums. It will not only help you expand your own horizons but you can learn a lot about interesting topics that you may want to share with your own network. It is also always a good idea to get connected with other financial advisers. Understanding the aspirations, issues and concerns of your target market, will inform what content you want to share. Share content that is relevant for your target market. Sharing content on LinkedIn will lead to more views of your profile and deepen your engagement with your network. It will also drive traffic to your website or blog and create more business opportunities for you. The most important aspect of sharing content is consistency. Even you share one piece of relevant content everyday or every other day, you will be ahead of your competition.

  • Be active in your LinkedIn network:

    As discussed earlier, building influence in social media takes time and effort. You should invest time and effort on a sustained basis to enhance your presence on LinkedIn. Very often independent financial advisers do not invest that time and effort. A small amount of effort sustained over a period of time can help you build a presence in your network. You should post comments on what your connections share on LinkedIn. Writing a comment is always a better idea than "likes", because by writing a comment you can initiate a discussion in your network. You can introduce and connect others within your network. LinkedIn groups provide you the opportunity to be active and visible, by engaging in discussions, asking thought provoking questions and sharing your insights on important topics. At the same time, you should continue your efforts to expand your network. Networking is an ongoing dynamic process. Remember, your clients or potential clients are on LinkedIn all the time. Your active engagement will ensure that you are constantly visible in your network.

  • Do not sell on LinkedIn:

    LinkedIn is a professional social networking resource. Use LinkedIn to build a network of clients and prospective clients. But do not sell on LinkedIn. It can harm your online brand equity. Use other channels like face to face meeting, phone calls or emails to sell.

  • Be personable in your LinkedIn activities:

    The financial advisory business is based on personal relationships. Every new LinkedIn connection can be potential client or business associate. Use InMail to thank and respond to a person who has accepted your LinkedIn invite. Your connection's LinkedIn profile will provide you valuable insights regarding that connection. You should promote updates from your connections by sharing with your network. You should congratulate your connections, if you get an update on someone’s new job or promotion or work anniversary. If someone "shares" your updates, you should thank them. "Mention" one of your connections in one of your update. "Mentions" is a new feature that LinkedIn has rolled out. It is similar to what's available on Facebook and Twitter. "Mentions" allow you to notify your connections that you're talking about them in an update or comment and make your LinkedIn interactions more personal.

Conclusion

In this article, we have discussed how independent financial advisers can use LinkedIn to expand their client network and build their business. If financial advisers can devote time and effort in building a strong LinkedIn network, they will be able to expand their business. If you want to share your thoughts on how to leverage LinkedIn, please post your comments or write to us at connect@advisorkhoj.com. In future articles, we will discuss how financial advisers can leverage other social media platforms to build their business.

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Dwaipayan Bose

An alumnus of IIM Ahmedabad, Dwaipayan is a Finance and Consulting professional, with 13 years of management experience, mostly in MNCs like American Express and Ameriprise Financial, both in India and the US. In his last role, he was the Chief Financial Officer of American Express Global Business Services in India. His key interests are building best in class organizations, corporate governance and talent development

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