People buy people, but will they buy you?

By Nedgroup Investments

Philip Calvert, inspirational LinkedIn and marketing guru, believes there is no time like the present to strengthen your online presence, sharpen your online networking skills and build your business through this channel.

To watch a recording of the webinar go to YouTube.

What has 2020 taught us?
2020 has been a year of dramatic change for businesses and has highlighted the importance of having an online presence. Financial advisers have up to now been very reliant on referrals for new business believing that financial advice could only be given face to face. 2020 has taught us that electronic financial advice works well and can even open new doors through referrals from new online clients. There are many ways in which technology can be used to interact, engage and add value to your clients. 2020 has also taught us to be more creative with social media and to let people know that you now offer an online service, which can be built into your value proposition.

Finding your audience
It’s critical to know where your ideal clients are ‘hanging out’ online so you don’t adopt a scatter gun approach of being everywhere, which is not sustainable. Like with most business plans, having a strategy is key. For a more focussed approach ask your clients directly or conduct a survey and then  direct your efforts  to one or two online channels.

It’s all about technique and not technology
When LinkedIn was launched in 2003, the phrase ‘social media’ didn’t exist, it was called social networking. Networkers are people who go out of their way to help, support and add value to others by giving as much as they can with the expectation of getting nothing in return. Social media is fundamentally about noise and broadcasting content, whereas social networking is about engaging with other people and this is where LinkedIn really comes into its own.

Putting LinkedIn at the heart of your communication
Understanding how to use LinkedIn can transform your experience of the site and you will start to get remarkable results from it. LinkedIn is primarily a search engine for people and expertise with the aim of becoming an indispensable business tool. Because of this, you’ve got to make sure that you stand out from and get found in the crowd. It is the preferred platform for a wide margin  of professional social media activities, such as thought leadership, enhancing client relationships, making professional connections, etc. compared to Facebook, Google and Twitter.
If you’re on LinkedIn, you are marketing yourself. If you’re not getting enquiries from complete strangers, then you’re not marketing or presenting yourself as well as you could be or you’re not playing to the LinkedIn algorithm.

How a LinkedIn search works
With LinkedIn, people are looking for you and will connect and hopefully communicate with you if your profile resonates with them and what they’re looking for. That is then the opportunity to start a conversation with the goal of taking the conversation off LinkedIn to a coffee shop, Skype, etc. and ultimately result in new business connections or clients. How you present yourself and the effective use of key words in your profile, will enhance your visibility.

Be clear about who you are targeting
Write your profile and aim it at your dream client. If you know who your dream client is, then you’ll know what concerns them, what they’re thinking about, what excites and motivates them. LinkedIn has about 700 million members and all of them need help in some way with their personal finances.

How can LinkedIn help you?
Almost 76% use of users use it as a search engine to research people and companies. This was followed by reconnecting with past associates/colleagues and building relationships with people who could influence potential customers. LinkedIn must be looked at as a vehicle to introduce people to each other – the more you give, the more you get back. Your prospects are already on LinkedIn, so your job is to find them or help them to find you, grab their attention and start a conversation.

LinkedIn has three core themes. The first is your personal identity and reputation or that of your company. The second is networking, which is a combination of connecting other people and building your own network. The third is sharing and acquiring knowledge. LinkedIn encourages users to use as many of their features and rewards you for doing this by giving you greater visibility.

You need a plan and a completed profile
Have a plan. This can be as simple as asking yourself three questions. Why am I on LinkedIn? What am I trying to achieve? How am I measuring my results – am I getting more profile views or having more conversations with people? The key is to have conversations that will lead people to your value ladder. A value ladder is a series of steps that you take that give people the opportunity to get to know, like and trust you. A financial adviser’s value ladder could include any of these – financial planning eguides, tips, ebooks, book, audio book, podcast, You Tube videos, webinars, online course, seminars, online community, networking events, mastermind meetings, financial advice and planning and weekend retreat or inner circle gathering. As the value increases, so would the cost. A person’s experience of you on LinkedIn is the start of your value ladder.

The single biggest mistake people make on LinkedIn is not fully completing their profile. When you do this, you will see an immediate and measurable improvement in your visibility in the search results. ‘Users with complete profiles are 40 times more likely to receive opportunities through LinkedIn.’ Other key mistakes include not including contact information, not engaging with other people and their content and forgetting that ‘people buy people’.
To improve your LinkedIn search positioning, you should also build a large network, include hashtags in your posts, engage with other people’s content and decide on your keywords. Fully completed profiles also help with Google results.

Your profile page
Your profile should capture attention immediately, empathise with your target audience’s problem, communicate in a tone that is unique to you, avoid unnecessary jargon and encourage a clear, desirable call to action. Try and build some aspect of yourself into your profile but avoid ‘overused’ words, such as effective, strategic, motivated, expert. Write in the first person, be punchy, include personal stories, say something that’s a little bit different, be assertive and direct, include media and visuals, etc. Aim your profile at your dream client. Your profile is not your CV, it’s your online reputation so use it to demonstrate the value you bring.

Identify 10-15 keywords or really short phrases that will help people to find you when searching. Include the five most important keywords in as many sections of your profile as possible to make you more visible in search results and include them in the skills section. Your name and LinkedIn URL can also include a keyword. Hashtags help you to be found and helps LinkedIn know that you’re interested in a particular topic so your post or comments are more visible in search results. You can scroll through other people’s posts, add a comment and then your relevant hashtag at the end. Or go to the LinkedIn search box, type in your hashtag and click the Follow button. This will change your newsfeed and show you content related to your hashtag so you can comment and share your appreciation for other people’s posts. Be a networker and not a broadcaster!

Your professional headline under your name is important – try to ask it as a question and aim it at your target client. Don’t forget to include your birthday as this is another opportunity to start conversations with people who wish you. Conversations can lead to new business opportunities
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This sometimes comes up when you’ve searched for a particular person or topic. You may want to switch this feature off to hide potential  competitors when prospective clients find your page. 

Profiles with photos are eleven times more likely to be viewed and your photo should be friendly and professional. Join groups that are relevant and engage with their members so they look at your profile. Use the header image, it’s a great branding opportunity and it’s free.
Some top tactics on LinkedIn that start conversations include story-based updates, video status updates, comments on other people’s content, group and niche content comments, live streaming, audio and video messages. You can now also arrange instant video meetings, for example on Zoom, using LinkedIn messaging. LinkedIn Live allows you to do video streaming, but you have to apply for it.

Know your numbers
LinkedIn gives you six sets of data: how many people viewed your profile, what they do, where they work, what search term they used, who looked at your profile and who followed you. It’s good practice to thank people for viewing your profile, it could result in a conversation and even a new client. Look for interests that you share with other members of LinkedIn and use the filter to narrow down your search to people who share your interest and are your target client or a link into your target client. When reaching out do not use the standard message – I’d like to add you to my network on LinkedIn! Rather customize your connection request with a more personal message – engage at a human level.