So, what does it mean to be authentic?
Yes, the heading here is very different from our title: How to use LinkedIn for Financial Advisors, but bear with me, and you’ll quickly find that both these sentences answer the same thing – the humanization of your brand.
A brief stroll through my LinkedIn history as a financial advisor
Over time, I’ve amassed a following on LinkedIn of over 25,000 people from all across the globe, but did you know that when I started using the platform, my goal wasn’t to chase followers or grow an audience?
For me, LinkedIn provided an opportunity of reference, a sort of spec sheet regarding who I was and what I wanted to achieve. Of course, best practices at the time (we’re talking about 14 years ago) meant that profiles had to be clinical, specific, and somewhat cold. For instance, you’d upload a very stiff and professional-looking profile picture, list your education, your career progression, and let’s not forget the awfully impersonal disclosures section. Then we would connect with the people we already knew, and voila, 50% of your LinkedIn work ticked off.
Initially I just let LinkedIn sit there and was guilty of what I call being a “creeper”. A creeper is someone who is on LinkedIn (or any social media platform) and just watches what others are posting. I rarely engaged with others’ posts and almost never posted anything of my own. Yet I was expecting to get leads from LinkedIn. Boy was I wrong! Don’t be a creeper.
Being who I am, I was not content with how my own inaction and self-imposed limitations were in effect limiting what LinkedIn could do for me. So I pushed the boundaries, just a little, by sharing posts and thoughts that, at the time, wasn’t exactly mainstream. You see, LinkedIn was fact-based, with options to just like, comment, and share anything you put out. For likes, all we had were ‘thumb’s up,’ and that was it. The various reactions we have now are a far cry from what we had all those years ago. But as the platform evolved, my opinions on facts posted by others, acknowledgement of replies, and dedication to answering any direct messages led to me fulfilling the new best practices of today.
One can say that I now have some inkling of what a great LinkedIn presence should include. So if you’re looking at improving your social presence on this platform, here are a few tips and tricks on how to use LinkedIn, especially if you are a financial advisor.
LinkedIn Profile Best Practices – Step 1
Your profile picture is worth a thousand words.
Let’s start with the profile picture.
We began this blog with one specific header question: What does it mean to be authentic? That question is fundamental to your profile development on LinkedIn.
But, what does authenticity do for you?
“Authenticity inspires loyalty and engagement where integrity, ethics and morals are not questioned. We tend to be drawn to authentic people because they exude trustworthiness and confidence. When you’re being your whole true self, you inspire others to feel safe to share more of themselves,” as mentioned by Marie Ekorholm FRSA in her Pulse article here.
And you know something? Being your authentic self is a heck of a lot easier than faking something you’re not!
Therefore, begin with your profile picture.
Your selected image must be recent – and while we all love the way we looked years ago, it’s important that your clients and colleagues see you the way you are today. So be sure that your choice matches what you wear every day – and if you’re working from home, smart-casual attire will resonate much better than a corporate suit. Also, don’t be afraid to smile – as a financial advisor, you’ll meet and greet loads of people, so be sure that your profile image comes across as open to those meetings and greetings. Trust me, a smile goes a long way.
If you are bold enough, and a little tech savvy, you can even turn your profile picture into a short video. I haven’t done this yet but have seen others do it and when done right can be a great way to introduce your authenticity.
While we’re on the subject of images, this is the best time to update your banner image as well. To reference my own here, Derek N. H. Notman, CFP, you’ll find that I describe exactly what I do and throw in a few calls to action to generate interest and ensure when someone lands on my account, they have a clear understanding of what I have to offer. Consider doing the same with yours.
Your name matters, as does your title.
You may ask yourself: What’s in a name?
Let me tell you right out that your name is your personal brand. It is who you are and what you’re about, and ensuring that you have your full name on your profile makes searching for you all that much easier.
You’ll find that I included the initials of my second and third names, and that I am a CFP (Certified Financial Planner for the uninitiated). This is because I cannot even count the number of times just having those initials first opened a conversation between my now regular clients and me.
The trick here is to get across as much information as possible in the simplest way, and oddly enough, #hashtags work better than you think!
All of this leads to your elevator pitch. Yes, your LinkedIn bio – or the ‘About’ section of your profile.
LinkedIn Bio – Who are you, really?
Your about section requires you to share a bit of your soul. While you can type out your various achievements over the years or make the mistake of putting your disclosures in this section, my advice here is to share your ‘why’.
Ask yourself why do you do what you do? And when you have your answer, you have part of your bio already written out. In fact I teach extensively about this in my Conneqtor financial advisor course. If you can’t articulate your why and ideal client (audience) how can you say anything of value to them?
“I help Financial Advisors as the Founder at Couplr & Conneqtor and also am a Virtual CFP® for Intrepid World Travelers.” That’s my why. But again, why should anyone trust my ‘why’ without getting to know me?
From this point, I take my profile visitor to my very beginning and then add interest and curiosity before that same paragraph ends: Hi, I’m Derek! I was born in Ireland to a South African mother and German American father. I have a passion for world travel and adventure, and believe it or not was actually compared to “The World’s Most Interesting Man”, although I am not sure I deserve it!
Following this, I jump into aspects that can become conversation starters in subjects that I’m passionate about and know that my audience shares similar interests. I can talk at length on any of these topics:
- Triple Citizen
- Delta Million Miler
- Husband and Father
- Car Enthusiast
- Aspiring Surfer
- Jumped out of a plane, willingly!
- 40 Under 40 Class of 2019
- Riskalyze Advisor Appreciation Award 2022
- WealthManagement.com Wealthies Finalist 2022
- Money Nerd
- Fintech Founder
All of this leads back to my first paragraph, my why.
“I entered the financial services industry in 2006 and experienced a high level of success early on, which I attribute to the philosophy of “do what is right for my clients and eventually I will get paid.” After 3 years, I started my own firm.”
In less than 170 words (a minute’s worth of reading time), I take my potential clients through a journey about who I am, my origins, and my passions while giving away my easy way of speaking and tying it all together with the reason I am here.
You can apply a similar format to your profile’s About section and start to really connect with those that look at your profile.
Here is a link to another interesting read on 8 Inspiring Examples of Effective Financial Services Marketing Campaigns.
While this is just Part 1 of a series of How to use LinkedIn for Financial Advisors articles I will be writing, I hope that you can learn from my years of trial and error to improve your social presence and present authenticity to your clients and colleagues.
To end off, as Oscar Wilde said, “Be yourself, everyone else is taken.”
In the next post, we’ll look at content creation, activity, and results.
Until then, have a great one!