How to use LinkedIn for Financial Services

October 27, 2014

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This is the second installment of a three-part interview series with Dan Swift, LinkedIn’s former Director of Financial Services. In the first installment, Dan Swift challenged perceptions about social media in the financial services industry. In part two, he shares some practical, hands-on advice for FSI professionals with Ben Cathers, Hootsuite’s Lead Solutions Consultant - Financial Services. Before joining Hootsuite, Ben worked for over three years as Head of Social Media for FINRA-regulated Lightspeed Financial.

Read on to find out what steps you can take to advance your career through LinkedIn.

Ben Cathers: What’s the easiest way for FSI professionals to get more out of LinkedIn?

Dan Swift: There’s a major opportunity for financial services professionals to make themselves more credible and attractive to buyers who are doing preliminary information-finding. Buyers are looking at your LinkedIn profile long before they reach out to you—57% of the typical buying decision is made before sales reps are involved. Therefore, the content on your LinkedIn profile is critical. Your profile should help educate buyers, improve your reputation, and differentiate yourself from the competition.

Think about a high net-worth individual who is comparing two financial advisors. One advisor’s profile contains a rich history of helping customers achieve their goals, along with pre-approved and compliant marketing content from the bank, links to the bank’s website, a photo, professional tagline, and contact information. The other profile has a name, the bank they work at, and maybe a photo. Who is the high net-worth individual going to reach out to?

Completing your profile is an easy and effective way to build credibility with prospective clients and deepen relationships with existing clients. If you’re looking to expand your business, then tailor your LinkedIn profile to the needs of a prospect doing research as opposed to a recruiter or a hiring manager. Don’t just cut and paste your resume. Take the time to think about your audience and what you want to share with them.

Ben: Are there more active ways that you can use LinkedIn to build revenue?

Dan: Staying front-of-mind with potential customers is vital for financial services professionals as the buying cycle is typically longer than other industries. Every time that you can provide value for someone in the form of advice, information, or even an introduction to another contact in your network, you create a potential business opportunity down the road.

Almost every financial services professional has access to compliance-approved marketing content they could be sharing with their networks. Some shares will trigger immediate inbound interest. Most will position a professional as an expert and a thought leader, which will help them be front-of-mind should a need arise in the future for such expertise.

Ben: What organizational strategies are financial services institutions developing around LinkedIn?

Dan: Many FSI professionals could reach more prospects just by collaborating more effectively with others on their own teams (i.e. financial advisors and insurance agents) and with others in their broader organizations (i.e. commercial bankers). You also have a lot of teamwork in private equity and venture capital where multiple players are involved in deal-sourcing.

Many organizations in these sectors are opening up new collaborative sales opportunities with  LinkedIn Sales Navigator. One of the advantages of Sales Navigator is TeamLink, which allows you see who within your team or company is connected to your leads and prospects. This works well for collaborative sales environments. Even if you’re not personally connected to a coworker on LinkedIn, you’ll be able to see that they have a connection with one of your prospects. You might be sitting just 10 yards away from someone who can make a warm introduction for you. This functionality can be turned off for less collaborative sales organizations.

TeamLink extends the network reach of your entire organization, which is particularly useful in B2B sales situations where you have multiple decision-makers on both sides. You can decide who the decision-makers are, then check your personal LinkedIn network to see if you can get an introduction. Often TeamLink will show you three or four connections through people in your enterprise, so you can leverage these relationships effectively to move a complex deal forward.

Ben: Who are your favorite people to follow on LinkedIn?

Dan: There are so many LinkedIn Influencers in financial services who are producing great content. Two of my favorites are John Thiel, Head of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management and John Taft, CEO of RBC Wealth Management. It’s inspiring to see people in such prominent positions in the financial services market sharing so much thoughtful content.

I also highly recommend that you follow Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn and Reid Hoffman, cofounder of LinkedIn. I’m probably biased, as I am fascinated by their approaches to compassionate leadership and entrepreneurship.

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