ShoeFitts Marketing President Sheri Fitts explains how LinkedIn can improve visibility, strengthen client and competitor knowledge, and provide strategic business opportunities and connections.
December 23, 2013
With the year quickly drawing to a close, now is the ideal time for retirement plan professionals to improve their LinkedIn profile and make better use of the business-oriented social media site in 2014.
“Optimally harnessed, LinkedIn can improve your visibility, strengthen your understanding of clients and competitors, and provide strategic business opportunities and connections,” explains marketing and social media strategist Sheri Fitts.
“In late December, and every time I prepare for an upcoming financial services conference or marketing strategy meeting, I take a few minutes to review my LinkedIn profile,” furthers Ms. Fitts, president of ShoeFitts Marketing.
LinkedIn profiles do not have to be lengthy to be effective. Instead, Ms. Fitts says Three Easy Tips to Elevate Your LinkedIn Usage quickly improve messaging and utilization include:
1. Optimize Your Profile
“Too often I see incomplete profiles that lack professional headlines, summaries, and business-appropriate photos,” according to Ms. Fitts. “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, Fitts says: “LinkedIn profiles let you control a part of your digital footprint.” At a minimum profiles should feature:
- Professional looking photo, not a poorly cropped picture from a costume party. Retailers Target and JC Penney still offer photography services, or a friend can take a photo using diffused or indirect lighting and minimal background distractions. For tips on using a phone’s camera see: How to take amazing photos with your cameraphone.
- Vanity URL. Instead of the standard, non-specific link to a profile, professionals should create a custom URL by clicking on the pencil in Edit Profile. The URL should be unique and feature a name or a business to elevate search engine optimization (SEO).
- Six-second elevator pitch for Your Professional Headline. Just under a profile name is a 120-character space for a quick and meaningful sentence to explain unique and valuable services.
- Summary statement. “Make this an interesting and compelling story offering your personal insights and knowledge,” says Fitts. “People prefer doing business with someone they know and trust so write in the first person, be sincere, and don’t restate your resume!”
- Website and email links. In the Contact Information rolodex icon below the profile photo are spots for an email address and up to three website links. This area also includes links for instant messaging and twitter, plus phone and address information.
2. Cyber Sleuthing
“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,” Ms. Fitts notes. With a little LinkedIn sleuthing she says professionals can learn the following:
- People’s interests and hobbies. Look for business, education or personal connections to ease introductions and elevate contact.
- Marketing strategies and positioning; particularly useful with competitors.
- Business and professional emphasis; learn what’s important to clients and potential clients.
For more LinkedIn sleuthing suggestions visit: What Did You Learn Today?
3. Build Contacts, Curate and Share
“Build LinkedIn contacts as you would your friendships,” Ms. Fitts says. Make contacts 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 compliance issues with endorsements. Most retirement plan professionals cannot accept endorsements or recommendations; hide these by selecting “do not show my endorsements” when editing Skills & Expertise.
About ShoeFitts Marketing
ShoeFitts Marketing is a Portland, Oregon-based company specializing in marketing strategy and social media development for the retirement plan industry. The company’s approach is simple: use the right tool for the right job. ShoeFitts knows how to work within the parameters of the regulated environment from decades of experience working in the financial services marketplace. The company has galvanized industry marketing and social media efforts by developing a cache of premium products and customized training sessions, and using progressive strategies to provide fresh opportunities for clients to establish standout roles in their industry.