LinkedIn is changing the way advisors do business in financial services. According to a recent survey by Putnam Investments, 75% of financial advisors are on social media and, of those, nearly 95% report LinkedIn being their network of choice.
What’s even more astonishing is the rapid rate of growth; the number of advisors using LinkedIn to build their business rose 61% in 2013 from 2012. Clearly, it has become an essential tool for advisors to network, prospect, and establish themselves as industry leaders.
Adopting social media as a business tool, however, creates questions and concerns in an industry that has historically placed a premium on privacy. So what does a financial advisor need to know to get on LinkedIn and be effective while also protecting their privacy?
As someone who works closely with many of Hearsay Social financial clients, I am happy to provide the following list of best practices for privacy settings from the perspective of being easily finable and growing your network. (All of the following settings are configurable from the LinkedIn Privacy & Settings Review.)
1. Your Public Profile
Your public profile is what people see when they view your profile and aren’t yet connected with you on LinkedIn. In order to grow your network, your primary objectives with a LinkedIn profile are to be more findable to prospects and to establish credibility before meeting someone new. The best way to reach these objectives is to share more information publicly that will better incentivize people to connect with you, so they can see how you will deliver value to their network. At the very least, I recommend that you show these fields publicly: your “basics” (Name, industry, location, etc.), picture, headline, summary and current position.
2. Activity broadcasts
When you update your profile or make new connections on LinkedIn, you can optionally have that information shared with your own LinkedIn connections in their respective news feeds. If you are strategic about who you connect with (and you should be), this option is a good thing. Not only does it keep you top of mind with your connections, but it also alerts them to promotions and potential new shared connections you may have. This data will further reinforce your industry experience and act as a tacit referral. It is a good idea to share this information.
There is another feed setting in LinkedIn that controls who sees the thought leadership posts you are making. Again, sharing this information with everyone will demonstrate to your clients and prospective clients the value in connecting with you. At the very least, share this with your connections.
3. Who can see your connections
A common fear I hear advisors express about making connections on LinkedIn is that their competitors will now have access to their virtual client list. You should understand that even the most lax privacy settings will still only allow people you have agreed to connect with to see your connections. So the risk only exists if you connect with a competitor.
However, there truly is value in letting others see your connections. It will reinforce you as a valuable addition to their network as they will see your network of influence (without seeing how you know someone), and it will help build trust through transparency. It’s also the best way to start seeing shared connections to discover new business opportunities.
4. Who’s been viewing your profile
Unlike Facebook, Twitter, and other commonly used social networks, LinkedIn allows you to see when others view your profile (and vice versa). The first inclination you might have is to sacrifice your own ability to see this so that others can’t tell when you’ve visited their profiles.
But first: think about the opportunities here. By allowing this access, you will get consistent information about who has been researching your profile. This information is prospecting gold. It does mean that others will see when you have been on their profile as well; 9 out of 10 times, that’s OK. For the rare instances where you want to research someone but you aren’t ready for them to know, just log out of LinkedIn and view their public profile.
5. Recommendations and endorsements
Recommendations on LinkedIn allow your connections to write reviews of your work and skillset for a current or past position you have held. Please note that most of our regulated firms require that you hide recommendations and/or endorsements from your profile to stay compliant. It is very important to check with your corporate compliance and supervision teams to understand your policy requirements, and manage your profile accordingly.
Following these tips will help you use LinkedIn in a safe way while leveraging it to build relationships with your customers and prospects for new business opportunities.
Note: This article is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice.
More blogs by Hearsay Social on ThinkAdvisor: