Wow! Does the pendulum swing both ways! First, firms avoided social media, slapping your hand if you used it. Now, they embrace it, pushing you towards it, especially using LinkedIn. You know what happens when the firm insists you do something: Many advisors dig in their heels.
My Multi-Function Calculator StoryI still believe LinkedIn is underutilized by most advisors (and almost everybody else) “Fun Facts” from Omnicore lists the average user spending 17 minutes a month on LinkedIn. Years ago, when I started in engineering school, my father bought me a sophisticated HP calculator. It did at least 50 things! The instruction book was half an inch thick! I only used five functions: add, subtract, multiply, divide and memory. How much better could I have done in school if I harnessed the power of the tool I was given? I think many people join LinkedIn, send out some invitations, accept some more and post firm approved content. They wonder why business isn’t flowing. Other advisors have realized LinkedIn’s true potential.
Here’s What I’m DoingI was an advisor and manager. Now I deliver training. I’ve been trying to tap LinkedIn’s full potential by trial and error. The treasure trove. I have 1,600+ first level connections. Some I know well, others I don’t. The strategy. Why not write to each of them and get a conversation started? They key is sending individual messages. It’s more likely to be seen than a post added into the recipient’s daily feed. My first failure. I put together a boilerplate message, introducing myself, telling “this is what I do” and asking what they do. Why did I get few responses? The people who did respond (negatively) thought I was selling something (which almost everyone else who messages you does!) They also felt it was generic. My second failure. The next year, I started sending about 15 messages each day. I personalized them. I said: “We are connected? How do you use LinkedIn? I do (this) and (that). Let’s share ideas. I got more responses, some very good ones. However, it had its share of failures too. “You must be selling something” and “Did you check my profile and posts to see how I was using LI before you wrote?” Third time lucky. This year, I send a dozen a day. Doing the math, you’ll see it takes over six months to contact 1,600+ people. The notes the truly personal. Here’s an example of how they go together.
- Hello (name). This is a personal message. So far, so good.
- We’ve been connected for almost six years. It shows that I’ve checked.
- I have 1,600+ first level connections on LinkedIn. Some I know quite well. Others not so much. This likely describes their situation too.
- This is a personal note to get a conversation started. It’s like meeting someone at a party. That’s a reasonable sounding scenario. People can identify.
- We live in... I say a few words about our town. At parties people ask: “Where do you live?”
- You live in (town). What’s that like? Another party question.
- We are also big wine fans. What about you? More information about me.
ConcernsThis is my approach. I vary the message in lots of ways, since each one is a personal note. It’s working for me. It costs nothing except a little time early in the morning. You might have concerns.
- LinkedIn is a business connection website. Are personal messages appropriate? I think so. In social situations, you get to know someone, then decide if you like them.
- Is the message too lightweight? Maybe, but people are so averse to solicitations and selling. The soft approach works for me.
- What about people who don’t respond? I’m not offended. Many people don’t check messages. Some firms have stricter rules on how employees can use LinkedIn. Others might not reply for a month, then get around to it.