Updated Friday, July 25, 2014 as of 1:35 PM ET
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A Call to Arms: Start Building an Online Presence
Wednesday, June 5, 2013
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With the multitude of challenges confronting investors today, consumers need financial advice more than ever before. But advisors must first capture their attention and engage them. Only then, can you earn their trust and confidence.

To paraphrase New York Times best-selling author Michael Hyatt, itís a noisy world out there and to get noticed advisors need to have a powerful way to get their message across to those who can benefit from it. They need a platform.

Traditional media has required that we ask someone elseís permission to gain access to their platform. Or spend a sizeable sum to purchase blocks of TV or radio air-time. Thatís not the case with the Internet. Now, you can build your own platform, digitally, through your firmís website, integrated with your social media networks. Working together, these two channels can help you build a platform with the potential to drive an unlimited amount of interactions and opportunities to engage with your audience.

Our industry as a whole has been reluctant to embrace this revolution, and that is understandable, considering the regulatory environment and our focus on compliance. But by now, workable solutions to address these issues are in place, and there are broker dealers that are supporting their representativesí social media marketing initiatives.

Just a few weeks ago, Michael Hyatt spoke to our top producers at Invest Financialís annual Leaders Conference. As a speaker, publisher, former literary agent, bestselling author, and popular blogger with more than 400,000 monthly hits, Mr. Hyatt is undoubtedly an authority on how to create a powerful platform. His message that resonated most with me is this: If you have been hanging on the sidelines, watching and waiting to see what happens with this social media revolution, I can assure you, there is no going back. The longer you wait, the further you will have to catch up.

Start now by spending some time reading and getting up to speed on the basics. Follow the lead of some of the experts who have built a huge and loyal online following - like Michael Hyatt, Chris Brogan and Seth Godin. Reach out to those in our industry who have already jumped in with both feet and see what they are doing to build their online brand. Then, start with creating what will be the core of your digital strategy Ė your website.

Why is a strong website important? It acts as a virtual lobby for anyone who looks for you on the Internet, and it will give many prospects the first glimpse of who you are and what youíre about. Functionally, your website serves as your home base online. You own it, control the branding and the content and establish who has access to it. This is where you want to direct all your online traffic. That said, you have to offer something valuable that brings users to your site, keeps them coming back for more and compels them to share it with others. You also have to be authentic, tell your story, and explain simply and clearly what sets you apart from other advisors.

Once your website is in place, and you have settled on a compliance solution, set up your social media profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Think of your social media channels as arms that reach out to potential clients and draw them into your website. Social media is unique in that it provides you with the opportunity to extend your reach beyond anything that came before it. But even more significant is that the platform allows us to do something that traditional media does not: engage in a two-way connection. With this engagement, we can start forming new relationships and cultivating client loyalty.

Steve Dowden is president and CEO of Invest Financial Corp.

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