What can advisors do to generate business on LinkedIn?

You've heard plenty of advisors and social media gurus tout how great LinkedIn is for producing leads, but how much success have you personally had? Here are three steps you can take to start growing your business by leveraging this powerful social tool.

1. Connect and share a tip. Don't get so caught up in hunting down new connections that you ignore the rich network of people you've already surrounded yourself with. If you've had your LinkedIn account for a while, chances are you're already connected to a handful of fantastic people. Don't let this go to waste.

In the menu at the top of the page click "Network." This takes you to a page which shows you a list of your contacts. From here, you can sort and filter your contacts in a number of really interesting ways.

Spend a little time here, running different searches and looking for people who may be good prospects. If you can identify some former colleagues, local business leaders or others who might benefit from the help of a talented financial advisor like you, reach out to them.

You don’t have to come right out and offer them a free financial review, but you can always share something of value, such as a tax saving or investing tip. Sometimes, all it will take is a simple message that says: “Hey Jim! I know you’re a busy guy, but I’ve been helping a lot of business owners in town save money on their taxes and squirrel away a little extra for retirement by using this strategy and I thought it was something you would want to know about. Here’s a link with some details. Maybe we can grab lunch sometime!”

2. Congratulate, endorse, recommend -- then ask. The "Home" section of LinkedIn features a newsfeed similar to that of other social networks. You get to see what your connections are sharing, but you also get to see much more. You can see updates such as:

  • Work anniversaries.
  • Recently joined groups.
  • Recent connections.
  • Liked content.
  • New jobs and titles.
  • Profile updates.

All of these updates give you a chance to connect over something current and meaningful. Congratulate people on their job changes or simply ask them a question or two about their new venture to start a conversation.
Here's something else you can try. Click on one of your connection's profiles. From here you can do the following: endorse their skills or expertise and recommend them as a colleague, service provider, business partner or student. Once you complete any of these actions, your connection receives a notification of what you've just done for them.

They may send you a thank you message. Or, you can go the extra mile and follow up with a personalized message such as: "I really appreciate the work you've done in the past, so I endorsed you for (specific skill). As a financial advisor who works with hundreds of people in our area, perhaps there is a way I can send some qualified prospects your way, or vice versa. Do you have five minutes for a quick phone call sometime this week?”

3. Ask for specific introductions. This is the most powerful feature of LinkedIn. When you click on the “Advanced” link next to the search bar at the top of the page, you can mine your network for people they are connected to.

As you browse through the profiles of people you don't know (yet) who share a mutual connection with you, a section appears on the right-hand side of the page titled "How You're Connected." This shows you your mutual connection and provides you with a link to ask for an introduction. While you can use this feature, I recommend asking for the introduction in person instead. Here’s how this could work:

  1. Connect with every one of your clients and business contacts on LinkedIn.
  2. Use the advanced search feature to find prospects who are “2nd Connections.”
  3. In person, or by telephone, ask your existing connections something like this: “I noticed that you’re connected to Janet Smith on LinkedIn. How well do you know her? ... Great! I’ve wanted to meet her for a long time. What do you think is the best way to do that?”
  4. Offer to buy breakfast, lunch, drinks, a round of golf or any other socially acceptable way to meet with professionals in your town. The three of you get together, and voila – a new prospect!

These are just a few of the many ways to generate prospects on LinkedIn. Of course, for any of this to work, you must schedule time to actively use social media. Passive observers with inactive profiles get few if any return on their social media investment.
Robert Sofia is the founder of Platinum Advisor Strategies.