LinkedIn: Three Tips to Elevate Your Efforts in 2014

Every time I prepare for an upcoming financial services conference or marketing strategy meeting I take a few minutes to review my LinkedIn profile and do a little homework on fellow attendees and participants. Why? Because optimally harnessed, LinkedIn can improve your visibility, strengthen your understanding of clients and competitors, and provide strategic business opportunities and connections.

Here are three tips to elevate your efforts in 2014!

1. Optimize Your Profile
Too often I see incomplete advisor profiles that lack professional headlines, summaries, and business-appropriate photos. These are such missed opportunities. Beyond the gaps, ask yourself: what is my profile communicating? If you don’t like the answer, maybe it’s time to make some changes.

Remember, your LinkedIn profile lets you control a part of your digital footprint. At a minimum for this form of social media, financial advisor profiles should include a:

  • Professional looking photo, not a poorly cropped picture from a costume party (yes, I have seen these!). Call a local photographer or head to your local Target or JC Penney for a quick head shot; just make sure they put away the stuffed animals or the train background. If you must, have a friend take your photo using diffused or indirect lighting and minimal background distractions. For tips on using your phone’s camera see: How to take amazing photos with your cameraphone.
  • Vanity URL. Instead of the standard, non-specific link to your page, you can create your own with a custom URL. Click on the pencil in Edit Profile and use your name or business name to craft your unique URL and help elevate your search engine optimization (SEO).
  • Six-second elevator pitch for Your Professional Headline. Just under your name is a 120-character space for a quick and meaningful sentence telling clients why your services are unique and valuable.
  • Summary statement. Make this an interesting and compelling story offering your personal insights and knowledge. People prefer doing business with someone they know and trust so write in the first person, be sincere, and don’t restate your resume!
  • Link to your website and email. Open the Contact Information rolodex icon below your photo and supply your email address and up to three website links. You can also add links for instant messaging and twitter, plus supply your phone and address information.

2. Cyber Sleuthing
We all know Google Search is a great way to conduct research, but LinkedIn lets you glean information directly from the profiles of your key contacts, clients, and competitors. With a little LinkedIn sleuthing you can learn the following:

  • People’s interests and hobbies. Look for business, education or personal connections to ease introductions and elevate your contact.
  • Marketing strategies and positioning; particularly useful with your competitors.
  • Business and professional emphasis; learn what’s important to your clients and potential clients.
    For more LinkedIn sleuthing suggestions visit: What Did You Learn Today?

3. Build Contacts, Curate and Share
Build your LinkedIn contacts as you would your friendships; make them meaningful by using common sense and etiquette:

  • Send Connection requests immediately after conferences and meetings while the contact is still fresh.
  • Don’t send generic Connection invites. Delete the standard request text and replace it with a personal note.
  • Reject requests. Not all requests are good ones; if a request seems questionable, reject it or send a reply asking for more information.
  • Watch out for financial advisor compliance; social media such as LinkedIn can cause issues with endorsements or recommendations. Most advisors cannot accept endorsements or recommendations; you can hide these by selecting “do not show my endorsements” when you edit Skills & Expertise.