Find your ideal prospect on LinkedIn by adopting a strategy to seek out the right connections and incorporating it into your work routine.
You jumped on the social media bandwagon a few years ago but your online presence hasn’t brought any new clients your way. In fact, you doubt whether it was even worth posting an online profile to begin with. So what’s the use of being online anyway?
LinkedIn can be a valuable tool for getting yourself introduced to your ideal prospects, according to Kevin Nichols, co-author of The Indispensable LinkedIn Sales Guide For Financial Advisors. In fact, with 400 million users, LinkedIn is a giant database that “you can slice and dice as many ways as you want if you take the time to develop your ideal prospect profile in LinkedIn searchable terms,” he said.
Nichols and his co-author, Matt Oechsli, researched social media and sales to come up with a strategy to help financial professionals turn their online connections into clients.
Don’t make these common mistakes. “The most common mistakes I see advisors make is creating a profile, maybe developing a decent brand on LinkedIn, but showing very little activity,” Nichols said. “Their profile sits there almost like a Yellow Page listing and they’re not interacting with other people. It’s a social media, so you have to go out there and actually engage and develop relationships with people.”
Engaging on LinkedIn involves commenting on and sharing information that your connections have posted. Developing relationships involves what Nichols calls “being a giver” — offering helpful information to connections. It also includes finding what he calls “connectors” among your LinkedIn contacts — those people who take pride in setting people up and creating synergies between others.
Another mistake advisors often make, Nichols said, is having a staff member post material to LinkedIn on their behalf. “They’re just pushing content,” he said. “Narcissism is a social media killer. If all you do is post about you and about what you do, you’re not going to get the engagement that you’re looking for, and you’re not going to get the results you’re looking for.”
Instead of constantly posting self-promotional content, he said, successful LinkedIn users post articles that are designed to position themselves as experts or to spark comment from their connections.
Don’t make your LinkedIn profile look like a resume, he cautioned. Although many LinkedIn users are on the site because they want to attract a potential employer, a financial advisor needs a different type of profile from a job-seeker.
“If you’re an advisor looking at client acquisition, you need a profile that describes how you add value,” he said. “Think about who’s reading your profile and tailor it to them.”
Define your ideal prospect profile. Before you can meet your ideal prospect on LinkedIn, you need to consider who that prospect is and how to find them, Nichols said. Where does that prospect live? In what type of industry do they work? What job titles do they have? Do they have a shared interest or belong to any organizations? Does their profile contain certain keywords such as “promoted,” “retired” or “looking for opportunity”?
After you have figured out your ideal prospect, it’s time to put LinkedIn’s Advanced Search feature to work. By going to the Advanced Search section of LinkedIn and filling out the fields in that section such as “title” or “company” or entering keywords such as “vice president” or “sold my business,” you can access a list of those ideal prospects, along with whether they are your current connections or connected to any of your current connections.
Using the Advanced Search, you can find business owners, centers of influence, people in a particular age bracket or those who have money in motion (such as those who recently sold a business).
From there, you can approach your current connections if they are among your ideal prospects, or you can ask your current connections to introduce you to their connections who would be good prospects for you.
Cook up a 3-2-1 recipe. Your ideal LinkedIn presence is the right mix of content, engagement, personality and promotion, or what Nichols calls the “3-2-1 recipe.”
It consists of three parts engagement. “That’s you going out and engaging with your network. You commenting on their posts and sharing their posts,” he said.
Then there’s two parts content. “Content is posting relevant articles, videos, things approved by your firm, things that will help your network see you as a thought leader.”
One part of the recipe is personal. These are posts that share insights into things that interest you or activities that you pursue outside of your work.
Finally, there is a dash of promotion — an occasional mention of a service that you offer along with an invitation to contact you.
Take a targeted approach to introductions. Using LinkedIn is more than a game to see who can collect the most connections, Nichols said. “It’s about who can get you the right introductions,” he said. “We need to see who knows who on LinkedIn. There’s no better tool than LinkedIn to understand the relationships between people you currently know and people that you want to know.”
Go for the O-to-O conversion. After you get introduced to your ideal prospect, Nichols said, you need to build rapport online, but don’t leave it there. It’s time to go for what he calls the O-to-O (online to offline) conversion. “LinkedIn is a great place to start the conversation but in order to make the sale you need to take the conversation offline as quickly as possible,” he said. “The quicker you take that relationship offline, the more likely you ultimately will bring that person in as a client.”
The 30-minute routine. Doing all of these things sounds like it takes up a big chunk of the workweek, but Nichols said you can see results from spending 30 minutes a day on LinkedIn. But that’s not 30 minutes of surfing the site, he said. “Too often, you can end up spending two hours online without seeing any results because you go down a rabbit hole of looking at this profile and then that one,” he said.
Instead, Nichols and Oechsli have broken down the routine into daily, weekly, monthly and occasional actions.
Responding to messages and invitations in your LinkedIn inbox; reviewing your newsfeed and commenting or sharing items in it; checking discussions in a few of your LinkedIn groups and commenting on them; finding a new connection; posting a status update with appropriate content; reviewing the “keep in touch” listing of connections who have work anniversaries or new jobs; finding someone who fits your ideal prospect profile; or reviewing LinkedIn profiles of those with whom you have meetings scheduled.
Requesting an introduction; searching for prospects using your connections’ lists of connections; posting relevant content with three to five of your groups; touching base with a dormant connection; or searching for your ideal prospect profile in a group directory.
Conducting an advanced search; conducting a meeting with a LinkedIn center of influence; or uncovering an idea from a connection’s profile.
Reviewing your profile and updating if needed; reviewing who’s viewed your profile; and posting a promotional update.
How quickly you begin to see results depends on how disciplined you are, Nichols said. “We’ve seen some people have success with getting personal introductions with people in a couple of weeks, and with some others it is taking up to six months to get an introduction.
“But if you can incorporate a 30-minute LinkedIn routine — telling yourself ‘with my morning cup of coffee I will do my LinkedIn routine’ — you should see results fairly soon.”
Susan Rupe is managing editor for InsuranceNewsNet. She formerly served as communications director for an insurance agents’ association and was an award-winning newspaper reporter and editor. Contact her at [email protected] (She’s on LinkedIn, too!)