Those who want to know what not to do with their LinkedIn profiles should perform a quick search of “financial advisers” and peruse some of the profiles that pop up.
You are sure to see, as I did, a sea of sameness.
When I set out to write this month's column, I reached out to those who thought they had developed a really standout profile. I got a ton of responses.
The trouble was that most of those profiles weren't anything that would cause me or a prospect to give the adviser a second look.
ABOVE AND BEYOND
Most advisers with whom I speak think they have done their job at LinkedIn simply by setting up a profile and crafting some cleverly worded text. The truth is, if advisers really want to attract clients, educate their audience and create a name for themselves in the crowded financial world, they have to take it a few steps further.
So how can advisers make their LinkedIn profiles attract visitors?
Here are a few tips.
Share a personal story. For starters, connection is key, and that means getting up close and personal. If advisers share an experience, a hobby or even a few laughs, they are far more likely to encourage a prospect to talk with them further than if they just stick to CV factoids.
Consider the case of Travis W. Freeman, a certified financial planner and president of Four Seasons Financial Education, who uses his LinkedIn profile to share his childhood story of watching his family struggle financially, and how this shaped his desire to help others with money.
He said the story has gone a long way to help clients and prospects understand what really drives him.
Use video and infographics. When visitors see a LinkedIn profile that contains nothing but text, their attention is likely to go elsewhere. In fact, research into the learning styles of adults indicates that about two-thirds are visual learners, meaning they respond most effectively to graphics and illustrations.
Fortunately, LinkedIn has come a long way from its initial days of offering no way to include anything other than text. It now makes it easy to use videos, images and infographics to spice up profiles.
Laurie Itkin, an investment adviser at Coastwise Capital Group LLC and founder of The Options Lady, is just one example of an adviser who has found the use of video on her LinkedIn page effective.
Allowing prospects to see her as an individual and to understand why she is passionate about her work is critical to building a connection with them, she said.
Ms. Itkin's LinkedIn page also features educational videos that help visitors make informed decisions about managing their money.
She also recommends linking profiles to YouTube pages, noting that a large percentage of viewers of her YouTube videos were directed there from her LinkedIn page.
The key to effective video is to portray confidence, show personality, educate viewers and, above all, be yourself, said Mr. Freeman, whose LinkedIn page features video clips from interviews he has done.
Highlight one's publications. LinkedIn profiles also have a Publications section, which allows users to call attention to any books or articles they have written.
Advisers also can provide links to purchase the books or download the articles, making it easier for viewers to find and utilize their material.
Advisers who write a blog or publish a regular e-newsletter can feature those in their profiles and include a link to them, as well. These simple steps can't help but provide access to additional viewers and put an adviser's work in front of an even broader audience.
Creating a visually pleasing, content-rich profile is the key to standing out online. Just remember to educate, inform and connect.
Kristin Andree (kristin@andree media.com) is president of Andree Media & Consulting.