One of the greatest tools in building my practice and enlarging my social media footprint in the retirement plan space was the use of LinkedIn.
When I was working at that semi-prestigious law firm, my activities on LinkedIn were rather limited since I wasn’t allowed to post because of some mistaken advice from our advertising committee that social media was some sort of advertising. When I started my own practice and things didn’t go well at first, I was advised by the Alfred brothers from Brightscope that they were able to build their business by starting conversations on LinkedIn. Here are some things I’ve learned:
1. The right way to see LinkedIn is as a starter, sort of like a starter in baking bread. It’s about connecting with people, widening your audience, and helping increase the footprint of your reputation as a retirement plan expert.
2. It takes time. Like planting in the backyard garden, building connections as referral sources will take time because any connection that pays off requires trust and trust isn’t built into your LinkedIn connections immediately.
3. The worst behavior I see on LinkedIn that I think you should avoid is immediately selling when you connect with new people. I tune people out immediately when they start selling me on their services. I’m an ERISA attorney and I work with dozens and dozens of financial advisors around the country. If I have to make a referral out for a client who needs an advisor, I’m not going to refer to someone I just connected on LinkedIn.
4. While LinkedIn has really cut back on the effectiveness of groups for the hashtag labeled interests, I still think sharing content is the way to go.
5. Speaking of content, it has to be general advice. Anything that is substantially commercial is going to be tuned out.
6. There used to be a mindset that you should only connect with people you actually know to keep that referral circle close. I disagree, connect with people that can act as sources of referrals.
7. While you should connect with potential sources, I recommend not accepting every LinkedIn connection request. There are clear that there are certain people on LinkedIn in technology-related services where their simple goal is to sell you a technological service that you may or may not need.
8. Avoid political posts, this is a place for business, this isn’t MSNBC or Fox News (dependent on your political view). Politics is like religion, debates about it only aggravates people that you may want as referral sources.
9. You need to post and connect with people. Sitting on the sidelines won’t get you noticed.
10. Post at least three times a week. It can be your content (preferred) or you can share an article with a comment or two. Posting gets you noticed.