A funny thing happened on the way to our present day. Sometime in the past seven years or so, we all began connecting with each other like never before.

Prior to the development of the Internet and social media, we had few options to stay connected—U.S. Post Office, then the telephone, then the pager.

But none were equal to the technology we have today. Love it or hate it, social media is here to stay. It has improved trade and commerce and will continue to grow and improve.

Prior to social media, finding good accurate information on prospects and clients was time consuming and costly. In addition, sometimes your professional contacts or prospects would move and you could never find them again. Trying to find new prospects often required obtaining a trade directory or joining an association.

Today, it’s a different world. Finding prospects has become quite easy and practically free. The sad thing is, most still don’t use social media effectively. Obviously there are some firms that don’t allow employees to use social media, but most have come around. I would have to question my employer if they didn’t allow me to use social media in 2014.

For financial advisors, it is very important to maintain a certain level of communication with prospects and clients.

Since the industry is so competitive, there are always other advisors looking to take their business. Most advisors do not communicate as well as they should. Over 90% of advisors don’t send their clients a newsletter or hold any kind of client appreciation event.

At least 75% don’t communicate with their clients at all, other than an occasional phone call. Clients want to hear from their advisors and most importantly want to be educated and informed.
The biggest challenge for any advisor is to grow their assets and production. This is an area where most advisors fall short, which is why most have a low growth rate. If the average advisor were to back out growth from market appreciation, they would find their growth rate to be less than 5% per year—that’s terrible.

Marketing takes time and hard work, but most importantly, focus. LinkedIn will not solve all of a financial advisor’s marketing problems, but it’s another arrow in your quiver.

Growing my current firm, the Rummage Group, is not terribly different from the business pressures I felt growing my practice when I was an advisor. The only big difference is now I have LinkedIn and the Internet.

I use LinkedIn the same way an advisor should. It is a way to connect with your target market and clients.

A LinkedIn connection makes it easy for prospects to find you when they decide they can benefit from your services. It is also a way for you to provide them with useful information.

It is your own personal website without a big expense. By being connected with prospects, it helps them discover the benefits of doing business with you in a passive and non-intrusive way. When the time is right, they will be able to find and contact you very easily.

Let’s say you have decided to target small business owners. You should start by searching LinkedIn for small business owners and then expanding to their city and beyond.

If you are a bank-based advisor, it is even easier. Start by getting a list of all business owners who have an account in each of your branches. Search LinkedIn for these bank customers and send them an invitation to connect. Let them know you are with the bank and may be able to help them in the future. It is important to send them a customized invitation.

Once you are connected with prospects, it is important to only post things that will benefit them. Otherwise, it waters down your message and your prospects will stop paying attention.
Think about important current market events and recently released economic indicators. Re-post articles you find interesting and feel your prospects and clients can benefit from.

When I was an advisor I used the chamber of commerce directory as my main prospecting tool and I targeted small business owners. Now with LinkedIn, you can join that same chamber and use its directory. This is a great way to research your prospects and learn about their businesses.

After being connected with prospects for several months, it is then time for a phone conversation. Since you have been connected for a while and they are now familiar with you, it makes the phone call “warm” instead of “cold.” If you are both members of the chamber of commerce and also LinkedIn together, the prospect should feel more of a connection. This greatly increases your odds of getting a meeting and possibly a new client.

Always remember who your average competitor is. It is an advisor who rarely calls their own clients, let alone prospects for new ones. Most advisors only grow through market appreciation and an occasional referral. Very few use LinkedIn effectively.

Like most things in life, you get out of it what you put into it. LinkedIn is a great tool, but it takes time, persistence and knowledge. It makes it very easy by providing online courses.

Remember the old saying, “out of sight, out of mind.” Flip it. It is now easier than ever to remain, “in sight, and top of mind.”

With LinkedIn, it is easy and inexpensive to instantaneously provide your clients and prospects with valuable information. It is a way to learn more about their businesses so you can be prepared before a meeting or conversation. It is also a way to learn who they are doing business with and get endorsements and referrals.

LinkedIn and other social media sites have changed the game. They make growing a practice much easier, but you have to be persistent and consistent.

Just being LinkedIn with prospects is a start, but it is up to you to decide how far you will take this tool. Happy Hunting!

 

Rick Rummage is the founder and CEO of the Rummage Group, a consulting firm for advisors. He can be reached at rick@therummagegroup.com.

 

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