Social networking sites are becoming more and more popular, and there is certainly no shortage of options. But how can you decide which one is best for your practice? For some, Facebook is too young and unprofessional. Others find Twitter to be lacking that personal connection they’re looking for. If either or both of these describe you, you’ll probably feel right at home on LinkedIn.
Founded in 2003, LinkedIn is the only social networking Web site geared entirely toward making professional connections. Its more than 40 million members have profiles that act essentially as resumes, summarizing their expertise, education, and accomplishments. Other users can search for you and join your network by making a “connection” with you. Once you are connected to someone, you are also connected, secondarily, to their connections, and to their connections’ connections. This allows you to potentially network with thousands of likeminded individuals, all of whom have access to your resume.
By taking just a few simple steps on this powerful site, agents just like you around the country — and, indeed, the world — are hooking up with other professionals and consumers to grow their practice, one connection at a time. So how can you get involved?
David Markley, a financial advisor with Northwestern Mutual, has been on LinkedIn since 2005, but he has only been using it aggressively since 2007. His experience started when a client contacted him through the site. They got to talking about LinkedIn, and Markley finally agreed to further discuss the site in his next meeting with the client.
“I went on and noticed that he was connected to 63 people,” Markley said. “He’s an attorney, so most of his connections were attorneys and a few business owners. I looked at the list and thought, ‘Wow, I’d like to meet all of these people.’ So I just printed off the list and took the pages to my next meeting with him.”
At the end of the meeting, Markley mentioned to his client that he wanted to meet his LinkedIn connections. The client offered to call the connections himself, but Markley asked if it would be OK if he mentioned the client’s name. The client enthusiastically agreed.
“He ended up referring me to 29 people,” Markley said. “That’s when the light bulb went off, and I said, ‘Wow, this is fantastic!’”
Ryan Pinney, brokerage director at Pinney Insurance, has also been able to generate business using his LinkedIn profile.
“I had one guy who was looking for a financial planner, and he found me through a LinkedIn connection,” Pinney said. “He contacted me through the site and I was able to help him get some insurance and that was just because he saw my profile and liked what he saw.”
One of the biggest draws to the LinkedIn network is connecting with other financial advisors, attorneys, and experts who can help your clients.
David Lau, chief operating officer at Jefferson National, said his company also uses LinkedIn internally to help upper-level sales staff connect with outside sales staff and clients.
Advice for getting started…
Linda Taylor, president of Taylor Marketing and Management, said that LinkedIn should be the first stop for any insurance agent looking to break into social networking.
“Most agents should be using LinkedIn as their first social networking tool,” she said. “It is structured from the get-go as a professional site. Once they’re on LinkedIn, they can, and should, join other sites.”
So where do you start once you decide to join LinkedIn?