Every advisor needs to prospect. Very, very few people like doing it. The DNC list hampered cold calling. E-mail is overwhelming. A 2014 article on Australia’s news.com indicated people receive about 121 business e-mails daily, and probably 140 a day in 2018 (1) Referrals are great, but their frequency is largely beyond your control. What now?
Social media holds promise, but financial services firms have moved slowly. Monitoring and archiving are major issues. However, many have embraced LinkedIn, going from “Don’t use social media for business!” to “Get active on LinkedIn.”
You will probably reply: “I’m on LinkedIn. But I don’t think I’ve gotten any business.” Here’s a point about sales: We think a person became a prospect, then a client because the advisor asked them to do business and they said yes. We don’t realize lots of other factors might have contributed to them walking through the office door or choosing to accept an advisor’s call. These include business signage, advertising, mailings, word of mouth, articles they’ve read and yes, your social media presence.
Is There Any Proof LinkedIn Works for Prospecting?
LinkedIn is often touted as the business world’s version of Facebook. It has about 500 million members worldwide. It’s also largely ignored or underutilized. The average LinkedIn user visits for 17 minutes a month. (2) In contrast, the average Facebook visit is 20 minutes! (3) If 1.40 billion Facebook users log on daily, you do the math.
LinkedIn is underutilized. Direct mail is often tossed out. E-mails get deleted or classified as spam/junk. Phone calls get screened or go to voicemail. Messages on LinkedIn are still unique enough to attract attention. Need proof? In 2015, Tony Hughes ran an article on LinkedIn titled: “Real World Results: Phone vs. LinkedIn vs. E-mail.” (4) He told the story about a fellow attempting to contact 300 senior executives, inviting them to an event.
- 100 LinkedIn In Mails generated 67 responses.
- 100 phone calls generated 32 connections
- 100 e-mails generated 12 responses.
Eleven Pretty Easy Ways to Use LinkedIn
Let’s assume you buy into the idea, your firm has rules that don’t constrain you too much and you’ve got some time daily you can spend on the various LinkedIn screens.
1. Have a plan. If I got someone interested, or they got in touch, exactly what must happen before they become a client? This should be easy to answer. You want to meet personally, sit across a table and learn about each other, transitioning into business.
2. Build a huge network of 1st level connections. It will be great for engaging in “Who knows who.” LinkedIn’s “My Network” tab will prompt you. Don’t send a generic “I would like to add you to…” invite, personalize it as much as possible.
3. Immediately engage in dialog. Once they’ve connected, get the ball rolling by thanking them. Find a common interest or something interesting in their profile and ask about it.
4. Engage with your 1st level connections. In reality, you’ve done the first three already. Often the dialog stops there. In 2017 and 2018 I made a New Year’s resolution to reach out to my 1,100+ First Level connections, which I do at a rate of about 15 a day. I personalize each message as much as possible. I ask them: “How do you use LinkedIn?” It’s non-threatening. It isn’t pushing sales. (You will get some people who send you an invite, you connect and they immediately start pitching business. Thankfully there are few of them.) Your object is to get a dialog going, maybe even meet them.
5. The 5x back and forth dialog. In those many exchanges in my last point, I’ve heard lots of stories about how people use (or don’t use) LinkedIn. Anecdotally, the most useful number I heard was: “If someone goes back and forth in a business dialog 5 times, they are usually interested in doing business.”
6. Post frequently. Your firm likely has a compliance approved article archive. Post article links at least a few times a week. Visibility = Credibility. You are building name recognition and establishing yourself as a subject matter expert. Your posts should go into the feeds of your 1st level connections, although there’s no telling if they will see it. (It’s that 17 minutes a month metric.) LinkedIn will tell you how many views your post received.
7. Join groups. There are plenty of affinity groups on LinkedIn. A good place to start is your college alumni group. Ask to join. Assuming your firm allows, post article links regularly. Here’s the rational. Let’s assume you have 1,000 1st level connections. Post to your feed and there’s a chance your article link gets seen by up to 1,000 people. Now let’s assume your alumni group has 20,000 connections. (By definition, many aren’t your 1st level connections.) Now there’s a chance your article link will be seen by many more people, some of whom will invite you to connect with them.
8. The sleepy group. Some groups seem pretty dull. Suppose it’s your alumni chapter. Assuming your firm is OK with you posting to groups and writing your own text, ask: “Does our chapter ever get together?” Or “Does anyone else post?” That should get a dialog going.
9. Be human. Comment on posts. Your firm might have rules. Assuming they let you make comments, ask a question or say something complimentary after reading their article. Few people do. It starts a dialog. Many people choose a list of article links and have a computer program that posts them on a schedule. That lacks the human touch.
10. Don’t forget e-mail. Your firm might have rules about messaging within LinkedIn, but they are probably fine with conventional e-mail because it’s easily archived. Check. Your contact’s profile should include their e-mail address.
11. Review notifications. This tab tells about promotions, job changes, birthdays and work anniversaries. It’s an ideal reason to reach out and congratulate them. People often respond. A dialog is started.
LinkedIn is underutilized. It also attracts people who have the potential to be great clients. Are you getting your fair share?
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