Communicating with clients and reaching new prospects is critical for maintaining and growing your business. In today’s marketplace, investors are increasingly selective; and financial professionals need effective methods to establish themselves as credible experts.
There are “new rules” for this rapidly changing environment to help you capture the power of instant online communication. By using blogs, forums, social networks and other social media, you can expand your reach, grow you business and establish yourself as a “thought leader.”
How social media helps grow your practice
If email and the web have benefited your business, then social media is the next generation. Online social media tools let you connect with your current network and make new contacts. Think of the networking you already do and imagine it happening faster, reaching farther, and with much greater transparency. That’s social media. There are several channels for social media. The most common include:
–Blogs. Similar to an online journal. Most blogs combine commentary on a specific topic, images, links to other websites–even links to other blogs. Several special search engines are used to search blog content, including Bloglines, BlogScope and Technorati. As of December 2008, Technorati was tracking more than 112 million blogs.
Forums. Also known as chat rooms, online forums are good for conversations and posting quick comments. Many forums are highly targeted to specific communities. Forums often include a moderator and require participants to register.
Social networks. These are online communities that link members based on mutual interests. Members often create a personalized profile, and connect with others via email, chat and special interest groups. With more than 35 million registered users, spanning 170 industries, LinkedIn has quickly become one of the most popular social networks for the business community. Other well known social networks include Facebook and MySpace.
Deepen relationships with clients
Social media lets you deliver a steady stream of targeted communications and educational materials to a broad group of clients while maintaining a level of intimacy and your unique personality. If you are strategic about subjects you choose and information you share across various social media channels, you can reinforce your expertise, maintain your voice and stay focused on your clients’ needs.
Another benefit of social media is immediacy. To illustrate, consider the experience of financial Advisor Scott Dauenhauer, a certified financial planner and principal of Meridian Wealth Management. He has been blogging for more than 5 years, but it was during the recent financial crisis that blogging became essential for him and his clients. While the market was in free-fall, many advisors were scrambling to calm clients and regain their trust. Dauenhauer used his blog to provide instant analysis on the day’s financial news and insight in a personal format.
If you do not have a blog, many easy-to-use tools are available for free or low cost, including blogger.com, typepad.com, and wordpress.com. If you already have a blog, stay active by posting original content or highlighting news from other sources. Build your list of subscribers by including a link to your blog in your email signature, your business card and other marketing materials. Also post comments on other blogs to reach more readers–and more potential clients.