Whenever I speak at financial conferences, I always start by asking the audience a simple question: How many of you are on LinkedIn? Hands shoot up. However, when I ask my next question — How many of you are effectively using this network to grow your businesses? — those hands quickly retract.
Having a profile is one thing, but LinkedIn is more than just a place to hang your resume. It is a powerful search and networking tool that top advisors can tap to strategically prospect and establish themselves as thought leaders. Here are some techniques to help you grow your business and professional network:
1. Finding a needle in a haystack. Don’t become overwhelmed by the number of LinkedIn user profiles. The different search features make it quick and easy to focus your search. Looking for people who attended Ohio State University from 1970 to 1974 who now live in Denver and work in engineering? You can find them! With advanced search filters, you can connect with the precise target market of your choosing.
2. Warm introductions. As the saying goes, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Use your existing connections to open the doors to new relationships. LinkedIn has second-degree connections — people who are in your web of professional contacts but not yet linked directly to you. With LinkedIn, it’s not just who you know but also who they know. So, the next time you have an appointment with a client or prospect, look him up on LinkedIn to see his connections. He may know someone who would make an ideal client. After your meeting, mention that person by name and ask for an introduction.
3. Group talk. LinkedIn Groups are one of the most underutilized features on LinkedIn. With tens of thousands of groups, there’s a group for everyone. Heated discussions are taking place all the time, so dive in. “Linked to Denver,” one of my favorite groups, has more than 10,000 members. Want to be more strategic? The “Denver Attorneys” group has more than 600 members who might be referral sources for the enterprising advisor.