LinkedIn is networking on steroids.
“It’s like a giant Rolodex for advisors,” says San Francisco marketing consultant/coach Christine Hueber. “It’s a gold mine of warm referrals and introductions, if you know how to use it properly.”
More than 60% of financial advisors using LinkedIn properly snagged new clients, according to a recent study by the social-networking service and FTI Consulting.
Nearly a third of these accounts generated $1 million or more in assets under management.
Here are six tips to generate referrals on LinkedIn:
1. Review your LinkedIn profile. Make sure it is complete and up to date, Hueber says.
2. Gather contacts. Advisors should connect with everyone they know who is on LinkedIn, both professional and personal contacts, such as friends, classmates, former co-workers and current colleagues.
They will be the basis for referrals that you receive, Hueber says.
3. Search for ideal referral sources. Advisors should visualize the types of clients they want, says management consultant and LinkedIn specialist David Shriner-Cahn.
“Identify who knows your ideal client and who your ideal client trusts for advice. These are your ideal referral sources,” says Cahn, president of TEND Strategic Partners in New York, and host of the podcast, “Smashing the Plateau.”
Ask ideal referral sources what they need first, and then offer to help them. Then, tap these ideal sources for referrals or introductions.
4. Establish expertise. Advisors should share proprietary content that they have developed, says Aaron Skloff, chief executive of Skloff Financial Group in Naples, Fla.
He regularly uses LinkedIn’s “pulse” feature to broadcast his content.
“When contacts log onto my LinkedIn profile, those posts are flagged as notifications, encouraging them to read those posts,” Skloff says. “Readers can then share these articles with other LinkedIn users, creating the opportunity for referrals.”
Skloff does this weekly.
5. Join groups. Find groups of which ideal clients are members and join.
Advisors who are locally based can join local groups and build their networks that way, Hueber says.
Skloff says that he manages quite a few groups, which provides a platform to establish himself as an expert by sharing his website content with every group member.
“It’s easy to refer someone when you can show that person is an expert by literally showing your work,” he says.
6. Make connecting easy. Advisors can share their website with a professional audience by having a LinkedIn button on the site.
"LinkedIn is about cultivating relationships, and especially because it's financial services, cultivating the trust factor, and showing up as legitimate and credible," Hueber says.
Still, LinkedIn isn’t for everyone.
“I have never personally found LinkedIn to be useful for referrals or much else, apart from occasional professional updates on people I don’t otherwise see often,” says Eve Kaplan, a certified financial planner and the owner of Kaplan Financial Advisors in Berkeley Heights, N.J.
Bruce W. Fraser, a New York financial writer, contributes to Financial Planning and On Wall Street.
This story is part of a 30-day series on how to generate the best referrals.