Your first exposure to potential clients is now going to be online.
So ensuring your digital presence is strongly presented and communicates your value is crucial – our research shows almost half of all clients pass on an advisor based on what they find about them online.
One essential element to a strong digital presence is your LinkedIn profile. Unlike other social media sites, LinkedIn has become the networking platform of choice for professionals. It’s also where a potential client considering you will likely go to find out more about you.
If you are not utilizing LinkedIn, now is the time to get started. While simply having a LinkedIn profile is a good start, having one that stands out will set you apart from the competition.
Your LinkedIn headline
A LinkedIn headline is a 220-character description that appears right under your name on your LinkedIn profile. Think of it as a newspaper headline announcing you and your business.
This headline section is the most overlooked part of many LinkedIn profiles. Because LinkedIn automatically populates your headline with your current job title and current employer, many people don't realize it's customizable. Don't miss this opportunity to promote yourself and your specialty. A unique headline can make you stand out from the rest.
What can you say about yourself that is catchy enough to draw in people? What can you say that will make people want to click to read your entire profile to learn more?
Create an effective LinkedIn headline
For advisors, an effective LinkedIn headline answers three key questions:
- What do you do?
- Who do you help?
- How can clients benefit from working with you?
Does your current headline answer all these questions? Does it tell your potential clients what's in it for them? If not, it's time for an update.
Here are a few headline ideas to help get you started:
- Financial planner helping young professionals build wealth in the San Antonio area
- Financial advisor providing retirement plan services to small business owners in North Carolina
- Wealth manager helping high-net-worth clients build their financial legacy in the Chicago area
- Independent financial advisor for medical professionals in the Boston area
The more active you are on LinkedIn, the more reach your headline will have. Your headline always appears right underneath your name and photo – including when you like, share, post, or comment on the social platform. Creating a descriptive LinkedIn headline is crucial.
Use searchable keywords
Use keywords and terms likely to appear in search results when people are looking for someone like you. LinkedIn and search engines like Google, Yahoo, LinkedIn use your headline to determine if your profile should show up in search results.
When someone enters a phrase into the search box, search engines pull the most relevant and useful websites to populate the search engine results page. These results are based on keywords – search engines rely on them. Their algorithms target specific words to determine if your profile fits the criteria for the results page. Use as many keywords as possible. For financial advisors, keywords like “financial advisor” and your city are popular.
A compelling LinkedIn headline utilizing keywords will increase the odds that search engines will bring your LinkedIn profile to the attention of potential clients who are searching for a financial advisor like you.
There are other aspects, beyond the headline, that your LinkedIn profile should include. Take this opportunity to let your personality, professionalism, and specialty shine – giving potential clients the chance to get to know you.
Personalize your LinkedIn URL
LinkedIn automatically generates a generic web address (URL) when you first create a profile. This auto-generated address contains your name, dashes, and a series of extra letters and numbers. Customizing this URL makes you more likely to appear in search results.
A good URL may contain just your name, your name + your title, or your name + your certification. Let's pretend that I'm a financial advisor. Here are examples of some customized URLs I might use:
- http://www.linkedin.com/in/Davy-Sweazey (this one is my actual LinkedIn profile; feel free to connect)
To easily update your web address, simply click here for LinkedIn's step-by-step guide.
Include a LinkedIn summary
Your summary should be written in the first person. A best practice is to continue using this first-person voice throughout your whole profile.
With a 2,000 character limit, the summary section is an excellent opportunity to provide a more in-depth description of who you are and what you do. Include the skills, accomplishments, and specialties that make you unique. Write about your broad career experience, independent from your current employer or company.
Create a summary that clients want to see by telling the story of your professional journey. Once you've intrigued someone enough to view your profile, this is your opportunity to make a winning first impression. It could be the difference-maker as to whether or not potential clients proceed to connect and further engage. Here are some tips for creating an excellent summary:
- Open with the basics – introduce yourself; explain what you do, where you work, and what are your strengths
- Show results – give specific examples of how you've helped clients, use numbers when possible, and talk about the outcomes associated with your actions
- Add a personal element – explain why you are passionate about your career, talk about volunteer work or hobbies, and add links to media or websites that represent your work
- Call to action – end your summary by inviting people to connect with you and list your preferred method of contact
Make sure your summary field is visible to everyone, not just those with whom you are connected. Think of your LinkedIn summary as an open letter to potential clients. Tailoring it to your clients' needs will spark interest.
Add a LinkedIn photo
Your professional image says a lot about you. Be friendly, be inviting -- but most importantly, be professional. While a picture of you with your baby is cute, it belongs on Facebook, not on LinkedIn. Save your wedding pictures for Instagram.
First impressions matter, so make sure that your LinkedIn profile photo is a good one. Someone will likely see your image before reading your profile, so make sure it falls within the guidelines of professional, not personal. Here are some for taking a great LinkedIn photo:
- Dress for business – wear what you would wear if meeting with a new client face-to-face
- Smile a little – a slight, natural-looking smile (no need for a giant grin)
- Look into the camera – this creates virtual eye contact with profile viewers
- Fill the frame – crop your photo, so your face almost fills the entire frame LinkedIn provides; this makes virtual eye contact even stronger
- Use only a high-resolution, high-quality image – in focus, well lit, and with a neutral, uncluttered background
When you upload your photo, make sure it is of high enough resolution to fill the space allotted by LinkedIn.
Your LinkedIn profile serves as your professional brand
Let LinkedIn act as your digital resume, an extension of your professional brand. It's highly searchable and a great addition to your digital marketing strategy. LinkedIn offers financial advisors additional value – especially when it is maximized to its potential. Sometimes, LinkedIn can be more effective than a website, and is definitely more affordable!
These days financial advisors have a broad range of digital technology options. I would love to introduce you to our AdvisorEngine® products. Our unified digital platform provides the tools you need to manage your business, white-labeled to serve as another extension of your professional brand.
This blog is sponsored by AdvisorEngine Inc. The information, data and opinions in this commentary are as of the publication date, unless otherwise noted, and subject to change. This material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered a recommendation to use AdvisorEngine or deemed to be a specific offer to sell or provide, or a specific invitation to apply for, any financial product, instrument or service that may be mentioned. Information does not constitute a recommendation of any investment strategy, is not intended as investment advice and does not take into account all the circumstances of each investor. Opinions and forecasts discussed are those of the author, do not necessarily reflect the views of AdvisorEngine and are subject to change without notice. AdvisorEngine makes no representations as to the accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made and will not be liable for any errors, omissions or representations. As a technology company, AdvisorEngine provides access to award-winning tools and will be compensated for providing such access. AdvisorEngine does not provide broker-dealer, custodian, investment advice or related investment services.