Social networking is the vanguard of marketing for small finance businesses. Intellitrain’s Byron Gray demystifies the opportunities inherent in being LinkedIn.
LinkedIn, like almost all social networking sites has grown exponentially over the past few years and now has well over 100m users worldwide, 14% working in the finance sector as of last year.
LinkedIn is the Facebook for professionals; it enables you to easily develop a network of contacts across Australia, even the world, and leverage these contacts to build your business.
So as a finance professional, how can you effectively use LinkedIn to benefit your business?
We all know that obtaining referrals is a key part of being successful and LinkedIn offers you with several ways to build up a stream of referrals.
Consider who your current referral sources are; clients, real estate agents, accountants, lawyers...they are all on LinkedIn and you can successfully develop connections with these professionals at both a local and national level.
Start building referral networks by using the “People Search” tool. For example, if you live in North Ryde, search for Real Estate Agents in this area. Contact each of these through the “Connection Request” tool and ask to join their network – in your request specifically outline how you can work together for mutual benefit.
Support the process of building your referral networks by developing your personal brand on LinkedIn. This can be achieved a number of ways, however one of the most powerful is “Recommendations”. Ask contacts to provide feedback about you and your service using the “Recommendations Tool”. These “testimonials” are displayed on your Profile and increase your credibility.
I also highly recommend providing unsolicited recommendations to your connections – this achieves two key objectives; firstly when your connection accepts your recommendation then this becomes a part of their profile with your name (building your personal brand and credibility). Secondly, by providing a recommendation it’s highly likely that you’ll receive one in return, thereby further building your brand and credibility. Recommendations are also seen in two ways, that is, when you provide a recommendation, this is shown on your own profile as well as the connection’s, further expanding your reach.
Promote your company
LinkedIn has a “Company Pages” feature enabling you to create a mini-website within LinkedIn to promote your products & services to other LinkedIn users.
Here you provide a brief company overview and details regarding your products and services. This area also provides an opportunity to receive recommendations or testimonials for the specific product or service. For example, if you provide a yearly financial health check you can promote this service then request your connections to provide a recommendation or testimonial about their experience.
There is another highly effective tool within this area, the “Follow” feature. This enables anyone who views your Company Page to “Follow” it and receive regular updates streamed directly to them in a similar fashion to the Facebook “Like” feature.
I’d also highly recommend that you add a link to your LinkedIn profile and company page on your website and email signature as a minimum plus other promotional materials.
Promote your products and services
LinkedIn offers two key ways to promote a specific product or service; you can “Share” it which captures the first few sentences within the product or service page that you can add extra comments to and “Post” this to your network.
If your Profile is linked with your Twitter account then this will automatically send out a Tweet of these details. And if you’ve integrated your Facebook page with your Twitter account the same information will be posted to your Facebook account and distributed to all of your Facebook friends.
A very powerful way to promote your product through three different mediums – LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook at the click of a button!
The second way to promote your product or service is by creating a LinkedIn advertising campaign. In essence, you create a very simple ad (or series of ads) then select the target audience. The real benefit here is that you can tightly define your target market that will see the ad. For example you can feasibly define your target to female sales people aged 25 – 34 in real estate agents of less than 10 staff based in Canberra.
• “Answers” – in this section you can post answers to questions posed by potential clients or referral partners to promote yourself as an Expert.
• “Groups” – by joining groups you can share knowledge, post questions & comments seen by group members plus gain access to directly contact group members.
• “Blog” – If you have a blog then you can integrate this into your profile.
LinkedIn is a powerful tool to build your professional network and promote your business to clients, partners and associates plus is easily integrated into your other online networks and activities.
For financial advice professionals we recommend joining groups such as 'Value of Advice', 'Australian Risk Advisers' or 'Australian Estate Planning'.
Byron Gray is the general manager of Intellitrain, a specialist training company for the finance and mortgage broking industry.