One of the things that I learned early on about public speaking is to get the attention of your audience. Something I share regularly that really grabs people’s attention is how consumers’ buying habits have changed.
Today, consumers spend a heck of a lot more time researching – and forming purchase decisions – online than ever before. This is why I’m such a big believer in social media for financial advisors, small business owners and sales professionals.
It’s also why I’m breaking down the top social media sites for you. I feel that if you’re going to play in this space, you should know what each platform can do for you, how to make the most of it and what, specifically, you should be doing. Bottom line, I’m evaluating these platforms based on your business opportunities versus your time/cost invested.
We’ve already broken down some of the top social media platforms, so let’s look at my overall No. 1 social media site for advisors, small business owners and sales professionals: LinkedIn.
LinkedIn – #1 Social Media Site for Financial Advisors
If you’re a financial advisor, small business owner or sales professional, you should absolutely be on LinkedIn – and using it weekly, if not daily! It offers the most upside for the least amount of work. If you’re not on LinkedIn, get there and soon, as the marketing and business opportunities are endless!
LinkedIn – Opportunity versus Time/Cost
- Create a POSTIVE First Impression! Today, it’s relatively safe to say your LinkedIn profile is often someone’s first impression of you, so make the most of it. In my opinion, your LinkedIn profile tells prospective clients these four things.
- Market Yourself – and Your Brand – to Your Connections: Many of you are allowed to post and/or publish approved content, which is a FREE and easy way to showcase your expertise. It also serves as a subtle reminder of your value and how you can help clients and prospects. In just 20 minutes a week, you too, can gain new clients by projecting your voice (sharing content regularly) and brand online.
- Leverage Your Connections for Potential Leads: LinkedIn is likely your BEST referral source, so make sure you’re using it as a lead generation tool. There are a number of ways to go about this, but here are a few ideas to help you see just how easy it can be.
- Stay on Top of Best Practices, Trends, Regulation and More: LinkedIn’s Discussion Groups offer an efficient means to keep informed on industry trends, regulation and best practices. Joining personal groups also builds your network, which may lead to new opportunities (see prospecting below). So, what groups do you join and why?
- Capture Multi-generational Assets: Yes, LinkedIn can help you connect with the second or third generation of your clients and begin to create relationships with them. Don’t overthink it, just follow this four-step process.
- Prospecting: LinkedIn’s most powerful functionality is its Advanced People Search. Unfortunately, most people don’t know where to access it or how to use it to their advantage. Here’s a short demo to show you exactly how to use it.
How you might use LinkedIn
WARNING: Before using LinkedIn always, always know your company’s policies and compliance guidance regarding the use of social media.
- Marketing/Thought Leadership: Similar to some of other platforms, it’s important to share content regularly on LinkedIn; content that showcases your expertise or value. Think about the core products/services you want to build your business around, and find or create articles that align with this strategy. Then share it on LinkedIn – about one article per day (4-6 per week). If you’re not sharing this frequently, you won’t be at the top of your Connections’ news feeds when they’re using it. If you’re looking to save time, consider using a scheduling tool, such as Hootsuite. (Time: 15-20+ minutes to find and post/schedule articles. Additional time is needed if you are creating content and/or need to have it reviewed and approved before it goes out.)
- Leverage/Build Connections: Identify five people your connections know but you don’t. Then ask for information (or, better yet, for an introduction). Send a connection request to anyone and everyone you get business cards from or meet. (Time: 10-20 minutes)
- Social Selling: Just like all the other social platforms, you’ll want to plug your products or services weekly. I’d suggest posting content about your products/services about once a week. Your overall goal is to provide ‘value-add’ content, so think about what your audiences want, not what you want to send them. (Time: 5 minutes to create/post content)
- Engage with Your Audiences: Read your news feed and comment on life events (i.e., anniversaries, job changes and birthdays) and/or on others’ posts. (Time: 15+ minutes to review/respond to comments, post on others articles you’ve read, etc.)
- Be Responsive: Check your page at least once a week to stay on top of Connection requests, questions or comments. Acknowledge both positive and negative feedback, apologize if necessary (yes, publicly), thank your customers and, above all, be human. (Time: 10+ minutes)
- Prospecting: Run or view 2-3 search queries based on your target audience and location, then leverage your ‘Shared Connections’ to gather intelligence, ask for an introduction or set up a meet-and-greet. (Time: 30 minutes)
- Discussion Groups: Visit 1-2 groups and review the discussion threads to pick up relevant news, trends, best practices and more. (Time: 15 minutes)
I hope this information helps you understand the opportunities versus time/cost associated with LinkedIn and why it ranks as my No. 1 social media site for financial advisors, small business owners and sales professionals. It’s an extremely powerful and efficient marketing tool, so use it!
So how do you LinkedIn to generate business? What activities are generating the biggest return on your time investment? What other activities have you seen work on LinkedIn? What advice do you have for small business owners jumping on this channel? I’d love to hear from you, so please share any comments, questions or feedback below, or contact me on Twitter/LinkedIn. Also, if you liked this post, please share it or, better yet, subscribe to our blog by entering your email on this page.
For more information, check me out on Twitter, where I regularly share social media tips, advice, trends and more, including how to build your business with social media.
Insurance products and plan administrative services are provided by Principal Life Insurance Company, a member of the Principal Financial Group® (The Principal®), Des Moines, IA 50392.
© 2015 Principal Financial Services, Inc. | t15092302he