You already know that social media is among the newest ways to create a platform for attracting a steady stream of ideal clients. But do you know how to use social media to actually get results and bring new business to your doorstep?
A web presence is now mere table stakes: Any prospective clients who are considering working with you will start by conducting an Internet search; without one, it will be almost as if you do not exist. But to successfully draw in qualified affluent clients, you need to go beyond a basic website. You need to use the Internet to position yourself as an authority and expert in the needs of your target clients, and to convey your message through networks of fellow professionals and prospective clients.
That's why LinkedIn is so important. Because it is optimized in online search results, LinkedIn helps you appear near the top of search results. What's more, it increasingly gives advisors a platform from which they can share their stories, communicate their expertise and target ideal prospective clients.
No other social media outlet currently gives advisors these benefits to the same extent. At my firm, CEG Worldwide, we've found it extremely effective for finding prospective clients and starting conversations that ultimately lead to higher revenues.
Like any hot trend, social media is generating a lot of noise. But if you can cut through much of that noise, you can start making the best social media outlet for financial advisors - LinkedIn - work for your business. Start with these steps.
1. FIX YOUR PROFILE
You have to use LinkedIn intelligently to tap into its benefits. The first obvious step is to complete a profile that will help you establish yourself in your desired niche and help you target affluent clients.
Don't skip the basics here - a half-finished profile will make you look unprofessional. I'm surprised by how many advisors don't bother to use a professional headshot for their LinkedIn profile - or don't have a photo posted at all. You simply won't make a strong impression on those ideal prospects without a high-quality photo. It helps form a basic, essential level of trust.
Next, spend some time working on your headline, which appears directly below your name. This section might seem obvious; you could just list your title and firm name. But in fact, it's better to use this space to tell a bit of your personal story - whom you serve and the value you bring to their lives.
One of my favorites (from an advisor we coach) is: "I am a advisor who helps dentists become untethered from their chairs." In my case, I don't say "CEO of CEG Worldwide." Instead, I say that I'm the No. 1 coach to elite advisors.
People care more about what you do - and specifically what you can do for them - than about a title or designations. Highlight the value and advantages you bring to your clients.
Then tackle your summary section, which should cover your current role as an advisor and how you help clients reach their goals, as well as your process and your successes. Include data if possible.
Example: "I have the privilege of managing $146 million in assets for 63 successful families in the Boston area, helping them make smart decisions about their wealth so that they can maximize the probability of success." Use bullet points to highlight your benefits and why clients should work with you - these help that vital information get noticed. Include previous work experience and any awards, and consider adding some personal information to help build trust and make you approachable.
LinkedIn also lets you post multimedia elements such as video presentations, PowerPoint slides, studies and e-books. Such content helps you establishing credibility as an expert and can get the attention of prospective clients and potential partners. If you've written a report on the main financial challenges that your clients face - and you should, by the way - be sure to share it on your profile.
And keep in mind that LinkedIn is a marketing tool: Get your compliance professional involved before you go live. You might find, for example, that it's best to hide the endorsements you get from other people in your network; they may be seen from a compliance perspective as testimonials and therefore be disallowed.
2. FIND PROSPECTS
Once you have a great profile that you want the world to see, make sure it can be found by interested prospects.
One of the easiest, yet most overlooked, ways to increase how often you come up in search results is to edit your public LinkedIn URL so that it includes your name (in my case, it's linkedin.com/in/johnjbowenjr). Also check your settings to make sure your entire profile is viewable to everyone.
And join all the LinkedIn user groups that apply to you and your business. As you might expect, there are an enormous number of groups aimed at advisors and wealth managers, as well as groups of users who match your ideal client profile. Communicating with those members both raises your awareness among prospects and helps you turn up more prominently in search results.
Next, expand your network by taking simple steps. Upload your contacts from Outlook, for example. Add previous colleagues and old classmates. By building a bigger network, you will expand your pool of both prospects and connectors. Make sure you explore the connections of your immediate contacts. Many people do not block their connections, so you can look at their networks and see if there is anyone you should be talking with who can help your business.
Follow network updates and client interactions. Every time you log in, the LinkedIn home page will tell you about new changes and developments. This prompts you to explore and reach out.
3. MEET OTHER PROFESSIONALS
To get the most out of LinkedIn, I recommend that you conduct a targeted email campaign to members of your network who are centers of influence in your market niche. These key professionals (such as lawyers and accountants) can provide you with valuable insights into your prospective clients - as well as, eventually, introductions to people whom you could serve well. This strategy has been extremely effective for advisors in our firm's advanced coaching programs.
You want to invite the right professionals to connect with you. If I were a advisor working with dentists, I would reach out to dental association executives, trade media outlets that cover the dental business and key players in the dental community in my area. This is where writing industry reports, articles and other content becomes especially helpful. When you request connections to these professionals, you can offer to send them those materials and let them know you'll be posting new content regularly that will interest them.
Once you're connected, let them know you are trying to learn more about the members of your niche to determine how you can add value to their financial lives. Ask whether these professionals would be willing to share their insights and advice with you. You'll be amazed at how willing they are to help you serve their community better.
The end result: You will build close ties with movers and shakers in your target market - people who can introduce you to ideal prospects, endorse you at presentations to your niche market and give you insights into how to deliver the services that your clients need most.
LinkedIn is not a magic bullet. But it is a powerful resource that should be part of your overall marketing tool kit - especially if one of your main goals is to attract more ideal prospective clients.
By offering you a forum to present yourself and your ideas to a huge and growing audience of prospects, professionals and potential partners, LinkedIn can be a key tool.
John J. Bowen Jr., a Financial Planning columnist, is founder and CEO of CEG Worldwide, a global training, research and consulting firm for advisors in San Martin, Calif.