Thousands of financial advisors have embraced LinkedIn as a huge networking opportunity, a chance to increase their visibility and rub virtual elbows with millions of professional peers and, hopefully, new clients.
Yet, many of these aspiring empire builders seldom get past “hello,” because their LinkedIn profiles are dull, buttoned-down, and lack color and personality. In fact, many are little more than a copy/paste of a résumé.
But the profile, the virtual main lobby, should be so much more.
Recently, some experts at LinkedIn shared how advisors can add more oomph to their profiles and, over time, better build and promote their personal brands. LinkedIn provides a unique opportunity to let an advisor’s personality shine through, helping clients and prospects get to know an advisor and better understand how the firm can add value.
Here are six tips for advisors to make their LinkedIn profiles shine:
1. Don’t be camera-shy. Headshot photos are essential. Advisors are 14 times more likely to be viewed with a picture on their profiles than without one, according to LinkedIn. That said, make sure it is a good photo, as a poorly composed or unprofessional one can do more harm than good.
2. Punch up the headline. Advisors should do away with generic job titles, and take the opportunity to share their area of expertise and explain how they add value for clients in their target audience. Rather than saying “Financial Advisor,” tell visitors something like “Wealth Manager Helping Environmentally Conscious Investors Achieve Financial Stability.”
3. Let one’s personality shine through in the summary statement. Although advisors need to include information about what they do, they shouldn’t forget to include why they do it. Share passions and insights about personal pursuits such as hobbies and life goals. People do business with people they like and trust. Use conversational language, and give people a reason to want to connect.
4. Include rich media files. An advisor who regularly creates video blogs or writes market commentaries should upload these to the profiles, so that LinkedIn users browsing through can learn more about the advisor and the firm on the spot.
5. Provide a “call to action.” Invite clients to connect if they like what they see and would like to learn more. And don’t play hard to get: Include various points of contact in the contact information section of the profile.
6. Make the profile public. This may seem obvious, but it does an advisor no good to have a LinkedIn profile that no one can see because access is restricted. Make sure that the profile is “public,” to increase the chances of being found through search engines.
Making over a LinkedIn profile may seem like a low priority, but social media has become an essential business tool, especially among advisors who have long made their living by networking. Online communities such as LinkedIn have dramatically changed how businesses communicate with customers and prospects.
A joint 2012 study by FTI Consulting and LinkedIn found that seven of 10 advisors used social networks for business purposes, while more than three of five who used LinkedIn for prospecting successfully gained new clients. Better still, nearly a third of these new clients brought with them $1 million or more in assets.
It doesn’t take much to turn an unremarkable LinkedIn profile into an effective tool for attracting potential clients and increasing professional visibility. And with more than 400 million registered LinkedIn members, it pays to put one’s best foot forward.
Vanessa Oligino is director of business performance solutions at TD Ameritrade Institutional in Jersey City, N.J.
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