Here's a question for every branch manger and program manager: How can you recruit star advisors to your bank in the face of stiff competition, not to mention the 1,001 other distractions on your time?

Looking at success stories in another (perhaps not-so-obvious) industry, you'll see fishermen today using radar to locate schools of fish. What's the comparison? Your radar is social media and this article will explore ideas specifically on using LinkedIn to find star advisors to recruit.

There are free features, premium features and advertising on LinkedIn that can help you get those "big fish" on the line.

First, you should realize that not all advisors are on LinkedIn. What this means is that you will still need to use other methods of recruiting. LinkedIn should be just one arrow in your quiver.

Also, be sure to review your firm's rules regarding LinkedIn before implementing these strategies.

Recruiting on LinkedIn begins with building and utilizing your own networks. First, click on the network statistics tab. Take a look at your first-degree connections, the people you know. It is unlikely that you'll find your next super star so soon, but it's possible so begin by reviewing your connections for potential recruits.

When you finish, go back and look at network statistics. But this time notice how many people are in your second-degree level of connections. This is where you should scout for your next super star. Don't be surprised if you see thousands of people in your second degree network. These are the people connected to the people you know.

Now, you need to set up the "tags" under your connections. Add a new tag for "recruits." Then systematically start opening the profiles of your connections in the financial industry and see if they share connections. If they do share connections, review them for potential future recruits. When you see one, click "get introduced through a connection" and invite them to your network. If they accept, then "tag" their profile as a potential recruit.

Continue this process until you run out of invitations. If people don't respond to your invitation after you reach your limit you can always rescind the invitation and then continue to invite others to connect.

When a potential recruit does accept your invitation, wait about a week before sending a handwritten thank-you card in a brightly colored envelope welcoming them to your LinkedIn network.

Most financial services firms prohibit the LinkedIn messaging feature. I don't recommend e-mail as spam filters are a challenge. But an old-school card that stands out from the rest of the mail will likely be opened and also differentiate you a little bit from others on LinkedIn. A week after sending the card get on the phone and call to begin the recruiting process as you normally would.

CASTING A WIDER NET
Now let's discuss widening the net using a premium LinkedIn feature called sales Navigator. First, you will need to find out if using this feature is allowed by your firm. If it is, you can now search for talent on LinkedIn using various filters. You can search by title, seniority, company, location, and by what they are interested in. If you have joined various LinkedIn groups you can search them too.

As you conduct searches you can create a folder for candidates to save them. You can also save your searches for future use.

Every day more advisors join LinkedIn and people who fit your search who have just joined can be emailed to you weekly. It will specify in their profile where the candidate works.

You shouldn't invite people you don't know to connect with you on LinkedIn. But that's not a problem, provided you're willing to pick up the phone and call. But first, review their profile. At the bottom they will have indicated what you can contact them for. You should follow their wishes on this point. If they have not indicated that they want to be contacted about job inquiries or career opportunities, do not call them. Only call the people who specifically have indicated they are interested.

When you call, simply introduce yourself, tell them why you are calling, assure them this is confidential, and ask them to lunch, simple.

I would expect for every 10 calls you'll get two lunches scheduled. And for every 10 lunches you'll recruit two of them. (Going back to the radar analogy, I said I could show you where to find the big fish, I didn't say they would jump in the boat. You still need to reel them in.)

Finally, let's talk about LinkedIn ads. If your firm has approved recruiting ads, then I suggest you use them on LinkedIn. You can specify the people who see your ads by industry and location and can expect to pay between $2 and $3 if they click them. Once clicked you will need to link to a website and offer an information packet in exchange for their contact information.

Remember, however, to exhaust the free venues before you start paying for the premium ones.

Todd Colbeck is principal and founder of the Colbeck Coaching Group, a subsidiary of General Business Center Inc. You can reach him at todd.colbeck@ccgcoaching.com.