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  • LinkedIn 101: A Guide for Financial Advisors

    March 4, 2013 by Robert Sofia

    With over 135 million users and a targeted userbase of business professionals, LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network. If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, you could be missing out on opportunities to connect with clients, prospects, and industry professionals. Important conversations about financial topics take place on LinkedIn all the time; by participating in these conversations, you can establish your thought-leadership and increase the visibility of your practice. More than that, it’s possible to mine LinkedIn for valuable prospects. Consider a few statistics:

    26% of ultra-high-net-worth investors use LinkedIn. – Northern Trust

    58% of U.S. internet users that earn $50,000 per year are on LinkedIn, while only 7% of those that earn less than $30,000 annually are. – Marketing Land

    LinkedIn Tops all other Social Networks in Google Search Results. – Small Business Chronicle

    Set Up Your LinkedIn Profile for Success

    The first step to getting started with LinkedIn is to set up a profile that represents you well and that makes it easy for people to find you. To get you started, here are a few tips for success:

    • Upload a professional image. Don’t forget to smile.
    • Draft a compelling headline that summarizes who you are and what you can offer.
    • List your current position and at least two past positions to establish yourself as an expert in your field.
    • Use the summary section to concisely explain professional achievements and how you are seeking to help others.
    • Complete the specialties section using keywords and customer-focused language.

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    Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile

    Once you have a basic profile set up, there are a few ways you can tweak it in order to improve your search results and drive traffic back to your main website. Since LinkedIn is considered a “high authority” site by search engines, it will rank well in searches for your name or company. In order to get you off on the right foot, here are a few tips for optimizing your profile:

    • Create a unique URL for your public profile and make all information publicly accessible to maximize searchability.
    • Add relevant keywords to your profile and create anchor text for all links back to your website or blog (i.e. “San Francisco Financial Advisor”) to boost your SEO.
    • Ensure your profile is as complete as possible. Add skills, publications, certifications, and charitable affiliations.
    • Answer professionally-relevant questions on LinkedIn Answers. Not only will this build rapport with other professionals, but it will be visible to others, sending traffic your way.

    Master LinkedIn Connections

    Like all social media, LinkedIn is all about connecting with others, and it’s important to understand how to leverage those connections to grow your business. Some financial advisors on LinkedIn connect far and wide, adding to their network virtually everyone they meet. Others prefer to use LinkedIn only to develop a close network of partners, mentors, or other curated group. There are clear benefits to both approaches. The first allows you to maximize the reach of your marketing, while the second enables you to develop a targeted network of connections with whom you can interact deeply and build close relationships. Whichever method you subscribe to, be genuine, helpful, and personal when contacting potential connections.

    In order to get started building a network on LinkedIn, follow these basic steps:

    • When sending invitations to connect, always send a semi-personal or personal message.
    • Connect with your first-degree network by importing contacts from e-mail and other social networks.
    • Add previous colleagues and classmates.
    • Build second-degree connections by browsing the profiles of your personal network and inviting interesting people. If you feel that it’s necessary, ask for an introduction.
    • Build advanced connections by searching for professionals with similar backgrounds. When you find someone who might be interesting or useful to you, invite them to connect, being sure to personalize your message to them.
    • Join professional associations and groups. Some groups can have upwards of 10,000 members, greatly increasing your potential exposure.

    Convert Online Activity Into Offline Returns

    Using LinkedIn to support your outside marketing efforts is critical to generating a return on your social media investment. You can use LinkedIn to:

    • Promote offline events, appearances, and speaking engagements.
    • Create a wider audience for newsletters, columns, and blog posts.
    • Upload recordings of TV and radio appearances to reach additional audiences and increase visibility.
    • Develop relationships with local professionals in complementary businesses, such as attorneys and CPAs.
    • LinkedIn will notify you when people in your network change jobs or receive promotions. Use this opportunity to congratulate them and offer a review of their retirement plans.
    • If your clients are on LinkedIn, browse through their connections and ask for introductions to people you would like to meet.

    LinkedIn and Compliance

    Static content such as LinkedIn profiles are considered advertising under Rule 2210 and are subject to archiving and oversight by a registered principal. Interactive content such as LinkedIn Answers, forum posts, or status updates are required to be archived and supervised to abide by FINRA communications rules, though specific permission is not required before participating in online conversations. Ultimately, like all social media, use of LinkedIn needs to remain within suitability and supervisory regulations and any guidelines set by your compliance department. For more information about social media compliance please visit Social Media Compliance For Financial Advisors.

    LinkedIn is not a magic bullet that will instantly solve all your marketing challenges, but it can be a powerful tool. Used properly, it can help you increase the reach of your offline marketing, and enable you to connect with potential leads, clients, and partners.

    Did we miss anything?  What other ways have you used LinkedIn to grow your business? Let us know in the comments and we’ll add it to the list!

    Originally Posted at Financial Planning on February 27, 2013 by Robert Sofia.

    Categories: Industry Articles
    • Minnie Norman

      This is such a great guide. Thanks for putting this up.