Although LinkedIn has now been around for over ten years, it is only in the last couple of years that users have started to appreciate its power as a client acquisition tool. Here are some of the key features of LinkedIn that wealth managers and financial planners can use for business development and marketing purposes:
Your LinkedIn profile
Unless you are looking for a new job, your LinkedIn profile is not simply an online CV. If you are looking to generate some tangible results from LinkedIn, your profile needs to reflect not only your expertise, but also your value to the reader – what is in it for them in engaging with you? For example, rather than simply listing your experience and education, what problems do your products/services solve for your clients?
Here are the key elements of an engaging LinkedIn profile:
- Photo – LinkedIn says that your profile is 14 times more likely to be viewed if you have a professional headshot. Emphasis on the word 'professional' – this is not your Facebook photo or a holiday snap!
- Professional headline – this is where most people have their job title and company name. Instead, can you explain in a sentence or two what it is you actually do for your clients? For example, rather than simply 'Wealth Manager for X company', a phrase such as 'Helping city professionals protect and enhance their wealth' is more engaging and will encourage potential clients to read on into the rest of your profile.
- Summary – most people simply list their products and services here, eg, 'I offer investment portfolios, pensions and mortgages'. Yawn! Instead, what problem is that product or service solving for your clients? Phrases such as 'I help my clients invest tax efficiently' or 'I help my clients maximise their savings' are far more engaging. Your summary is also your opportunity to tell the reader who you can help, a little bit about you as an individual, and what you do outside of work. Have a look at mine, and a good example of a wealth manager's.
While other social media advisers may tell you differently, I strongly believe that the above three areas should be the main areas to focus on. If you get these absolutely spot on, readers will be able to make a quick decision whether to engage with you or not. There are a number of other sections of your profile which are worth completing, but, given word constraints, I can't go into detail here. They are: Experience, Education, Skills & endorsements, Certifications (your professional qualifications) and Contact info.
The only other section worth spending some time on is Recommendations (ie testimonials). This is where your clients and introducers can write a few sentences about how wonderful you are. Aim for 5–10 quality recommendations in order to give some validation or 'social proof' to your profile.
Once you have created/updated your LinkedIn profile, there are a number of fantastic (and free) features of LinkedIn worth considering for business development purposes:
- Advanced search – to the right of the basic search bar on LinkedIn, you will see an Advanced button. This is where you can take all 400 million LinkedIn members and filter them down by options such as name, company, job title, location and postcode radius – and all for free! I have never yet run a search on behalf of a client and not come up with a search result, whether that be police officers in Scotland, NHS staff in Birmingham, entrepreneurs in Shoreditch or even company directors in central London who like golf – you really can be that specific! Experiment with it and you will be amazed.
- Referrals – Another powerful way to use LinkedIn is by leveraging off the people you already know. Look at your 1st line contacts/ connections and ask your 1st line contact to make a referral or introduction to people he/she thinks may be interested in your services. This is the way the vast majority of my clients are using LinkedIn to generate business, but bear in mind this process will only work with people you have strong and trusted relationships with.
- Inform and educate – Post content to the LinkedIn news feed for your contacts to read at their leisure. The key to this is to 'inform and educate', not sell. Typically, wealth managers will post articles and news from their website, such as market commentaries, fund manager interviews and generic information which gives your audience real value. For example, Charles Stanley & Co's investment managers post updates to their LinkedIn news feed from the company, and this has resulted in a huge amount of new traffic to their website. Bear in mind that you should only be posting once or twice a week –any more than this and it appears too 'sales-focused'. Also ensure that any content you post has been signed off by your marketing/compliance team. This is a very simple, quick, free and effective way of informing and educating your contacts and a great way to stay on their radar –I recently posted an article on LinkedIn about crowdfunding which was viewed over 200 times – that's great exposure for very little effort!
A small sample of my clients have generated over £42m in new assets under management as a result of their LinkedIn activities.
If you are keen to learn more about the power of LinkedIn as a business development tool, my next LinkedIn workshops for CISI members and non-members will take place on 28 September 2016 and 30 November 2016. For more CISI CPD training opportunities please visit cisi.org/courses