LinkedIn has quickly become one of the easiest ways for financial advisors to network. In fact, the company reports that financial advisors dominate the social networking platform and the financial services industry takes top prize in terms of market penetration of the platform. By now, most financial advisors have figured out the appeal to networking and relationship-building with LinkedIn. It’s a great way to stay connected with hundreds (or thousands) of people on the key moments of their professional lives (work anniversaries, new positions and profile photos) as well as research an individual or company without leaving your desk.
However, there are several features within LinkedIn that many financial advisors aren’t aware of that can instantly enhance their “stickiness” with clients, staff and centers of influence.
Spice It Up With LinkedIn Groups
LinkedIn is constantly evolving. One of the lesser-known features of the site is the LinkedIn Groups feature (note to LinkedIn marketing department: make Groups more prominent on your platform!). The Groups component allows a user to interact in two ways: as a participant of a group, or as the leader of a group. You can join a group and network with other like-minded professionals and share status updates and relevant news with others.
According to Mashable, those who post or engage in group conversations receive four times as many profile views as those who don’t. And each minute, more than 200 conversations take place on Groups across the site. Wondering where to start? Consider the following.
Enhance your financial advisor study group. If you’re in a study group, it’s the perfect opportunity to create a discussion forum. Many advisors lose touch with their study group or only meet while attending a large conference in the same city. The Groups feature can turn a stale group around in no time. You can post updates to the rest of the members about your next meeting location, share interesting articles related to the industry or your work with clients and ask for advice or recommendations if you have a question that’s been on your mind. The best aspect of this feature is you are communicating to a captive audience in a controlled environment, as groups can be configured to limit who can join and only allow those who have joined to see the messages there.
Set up an (internal) group for your advisory firm. Transform the communications of your office and instantly create an intranet to share ideas. Have multiple offices? Keep in touch easily – and avoid the dreaded “reply all” shenanigans that crowd your inbox – by posting updates to an internal group that only your employees are part of. It can also be a great way to share news about recruiting updates, new hires, new business prospects and more. We’ve also seen this work especially well for large advisor groups that are planning events and conferences. In the past, integral communications had fallen through the cracks, but creating a Group has streamlined the process.
Interact with clients and centers of influence. Search for organizations in your area such as local accounting, law or estate planning firms. Join their groups, and then participate in discussions. Also follow your clients as well as their company pages. Stay up-to-date with what they are doing so that you can enhance your conversations during in-person meetings. They will appreciate your interest and attention! This helps you create a large base of fans to help share your company’s content and posts.
Search for More than Just Prospects:
Advanced People Search
The search functions within LinkedIn seem to evolve in real-time. Keywords remain the name of the game, and the “Advanced Search” feature can also be a treasure trove for a financial advisor’s networking strategy. For example, we have seen advisors search keywords in LinkedIn Groups that they have joined. So a search for “estate planning attorney Baltimore Maryland” can yield some pretty detailed profile results and allows a connection to occur more organically if you’re both part of the same LinkedIn Group. You can search for Alumni from the exact class year from a college or high school to expand your network as well.
Search for Content: Pulse
Want access to fresh content to share with clients and centers of influence? LinkedIn has a relatively new feature dubbed “Pulse.” Located below the “Interests” tab, Pulse allows you to search for content across various disciplines, so if you want to share updates on marketing trends, click to follow the marketing channel posts. Now, you immediately have access to current content and all kinds of discussion topics to start a conversation on your profile, in a LinkedIn Group or at your watercooler.
Extend Your Company’s Reach:
LinkedIn Showcase Pages
Companies can now create “Showcase Pages” on LinkedIn to focus on a particular business area or initiative. For example, if you are with an RIA that has a few different focuses such as a women’s practice or a retirement planning division, a Showcase Page is a great way to highlight those specialties and build relationships with the right community. The pages rely heavily on content and status updates, so it’s important to keep them fresh and updated regularly. As you can see in the image below, Microsoft has several Showcase Pages that describe their different range of products.
Other Lesser-Known Features…
The Volunteer Marketplace: LinkedIn recently added a “Volunteer Marketplace” feature which allows users to search for volunteer opportunities that require particular skill sets. Being on a charity Board is always an excellent way to give back to the community and now you can easily search the Marketplace for a range of different positions at non-profits and organizations.
Innovative Marketing: While LinkedIn is not known for being a hotbed for marketing activity, this actually makes it a better destination for marketers where clever campaigns can stand out. Similar to Facebook, the company’s “Sponsored Updates” allow companies to target specific demographics on the site. Firms like Citi have taken advantage of sponsored updates, and they regularly pose thoughtful questions directed at senior female executives. Their updates show up in the target audience’s LinkedIn feeds when they log in. According to LinkedIn, 50% of the Fortune 100 utilizes LinkedIn’s Marketing Solutions.
As you can see, LinkedIn boasts some largely-untapped features that can be a great asset to financial advisors large or small. Just recently, profiles are now able to feature video thumbnails as well, making content even “stickier.” My advice to advisors is often to pick an aspect of LinkedIn and run with it, and dedicate the time and resources to benchmark for success. The net result should be streamlined communications, easier access to networking and hopefully the opening of a few doors along the way.
This post originally appeared on Michael Kitces’ “Nerd’s Eye View” blog on March 4, 2014: How Financial Advisors Can Use LinkedIn As More Than Just A Passive Digital Resume.