Financial advisor Mitchell Rock cast a wide net on LinkedIn and landed himself a whopper: Within three weeks of connecting with a North Carolina prospect, the New York City-based advisor had won the retired retailer’s $70 million account.
Rock, 51, who heads the four-advisor Rock Group at Morgan Stanley, began using LinkedIn in summer 2011 as part of the firm’s pioneering social media pilot program. He still spends 30 minutes every night trolling for quality prospects. That is indeed time well spent: Over the last two years, he has netted a slew of LinkedIn-generated clients.
Owners of privately held middle-market companies are Rock’s market niche. He helps monetize their wealth, typically realized through the sale of their companies.
A Morgan Stanley senior vice president, Rock, previously with UBS and Oppenheimer & Co., had been on LinkedIn about seven months, when one night he spotted the profile of a man with whom he’d had business dealings 12 years before. The two had lost touch. Rock promptly shot him an e-mail, updating him on his current focus and directing him to his website, featuring The Rock Group brochure.
“Oh, my God! I have a friend in North Carolina who’s looking to work with a New York investment team just like yours,” Rock recalls the man telling him. The friend had sold his company about six months earlier and wanted a New York money manager to invest the $70 million in proceeds.
An introduction was made, and thee weeks later, “we had a very large account,” Rock (left) says.
Though he has obviously found great success with LinkedIn as a prospecting tool, the wealth advisor stresses: social media is no replacement for other types of marketing.
“It’s not a magic bullet. If anyone thinks they’re just going to go on LinkedIn and double their business, they’re wrong,” he says. “It has to be used in conjunction with traditional marketing efforts in a multifaceted campaign with a consistent message. While individually effective, none of the marketing channels are great. But in combination, they’re very, very powerful.”
The beauty of LinkedIn, Rock notes, is that “you can get your message out to a broad base of people you can’t reach otherwise. It establishes your presence to the world.”
Rock incorporates LinkedIn time as part of his daily business plan. Opting for one level up from free service, he pays $300 a year for access to fuller, in-depth profiles.
“The LinkedIn revenue model,” he remarks, “is ‘the more you want to see, it will cost you.’”
At the start, Rock reached out to “people that knew people that we knew. Everyone we’ve ever met is part of our LinkedIn network,” he says. The group now has more than 1,200 direct LinkedIn connections. Immediately after posting his profile in the pilot program, he joined a number of small-business discussion groups on LinkedIn to identify potential clients. He continues to participate in them.