When it comes to prospecting, mass marketing is out and relationship building is in.
Your goal, as always, is to be seen as a trustworthy advisor to whom your existing clients and other professionals will refer their friends.
Before you start looking for prospects, make sure your own LinkedIn profile is complete and includes details about your current and past experience. Include a friendly-looking photo that shows you’re approachable and details about your interests outside of your professional life. It’s surprising, but some people skip these basic profile requirements—alienating anyone who wants to get to know them before doing business.
Once you’ve ensured your profile is up to date, it’s time to start prospecting.
1) Go pro
A LinkedIn Premium account offers a wealth of benefits for financial advisors. Unlike a free account, you can send direct messages to people you aren’t connected to via InMail. As well, you’ll receive more insight into who has viewed your profile, how they discovered you on LinkedIn, and who these people are connected to. This is valuable information that allows you to see which viewers are just browsing and which are potential leads. And you’ll be able to see whether someone would be an ideal client.
Other major benefits include the ability to use LinkedIn’s advanced search filters to help you seek out prospects, and the ability to see more of someone’s profile when you do find a person you’re interested in learning more about.
A LinkedIn Premium account ranges from $30.99 – $119.95 per month, depending on the type of plan you select.
2) Find out more about your prospects
Use the information at your disposal with a pro account and learn about your prospects. Their LinkedIn profiles may reveal some details about their interests, professions and more, which you can use to your advantage. For instance, if you notice that a prospect works with a charity group you are also involved with, or if she’s posted an interesting status update that caught your eye, you can mention this in your introductory message to create an instant connection. LinkedIn will often allow you to learn more about your prospects, so you won’t feel like you’re cold calling.
3) Request introductions
While LinkedIn isn’t meant for connecting to strangers, you can have one of your existing connections introduce you to someone you’d like to get to know. If you and your prospect have a connection in common, you can ask this connection to introduce you. To do so, simply visit the profile of the person you want to connect with, click the arrow beside the “Connect” button and select “Get introduced.” (See illustration to the left.) You’ll see which of your connections could facilitate the introduction.
When asking one of your connections to introduce you to someone they know, remember to make it easy for your connection to forward your request. Begin by explaining why you are sending them the message, state why you’d like to get in touch with the individual, and always be thankful and appreciative. Here’s a short sample introduction request you might send to a connection:
I noticed that you are connected with Jane Doe. As you may know, I am a financial advisor in Toronto, and I’d like to forward Jane some information about my services.
Would you be willing to introduce us? If you feel uncomfortable making the introduction, don’t worry.
Please let me know how I can return the favour.
If you don’t have any connections who are connected to your prospect, try using the “People You May Know” function. It’s a handy tool for expanding your network, and in future, a larger network will provide you with more opportunities to get introduced to other people you’d like to know. Each time you add a new connection, your network will grow.
In the example to the right, you’ll see that by simply adding one connection, my network has grown by nearly 100 individuals. The number of new professionals you will be linked to will depend on how many connections the person you added has, as well as how many connections you have in common with them.
Visit this area of LinkedIn regularly to find new connections you’ve missed, and keep expanding your reach. There’s a chance that one of these people is connected with someone you’ve been hoping to get in contact with.
4) Create and share valuable content
To have a great profile, you need to do more than just consume content when you’re on LinkedIn. Share relevant articles via your status updates. Help people by answering questions and directing them to public resources. Share your knowledge and engage in conversations with your network. This shows you’re not just trying to bring in leads, but also to build relationships.
5) Get involved in LinkedIn groups
Take the content sharing strategy one step further by getting involved in discussion groups. Seek out groups that your target clients might belong to. Start thinking about your potential client’s age, profession and location. Seek out related groups, and participate in discussions. Remember to both ask and answer questions, and avoid being self-promotional. This builds your authority, and helps you be seen as an expert and helpful resource. It naturally develops other group members into prospects and potential advocates.
6) Invest more time
To be successful on LinkedIn, you need to spend more than two minutes a day checking your notifications. Spend at least 15 minutes posting content, commenting on others’ status updates, engaging in group discussions or finding new users to connect with. All of this activity not only broadens your network of connections, but helps establish your online credibility.
Maureen McCabe, the principal and founder of McCabe Marketing, works with small business owners and start-up companies.