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Leverage LinkedIn, Connecting with Competitors & Upgrading to Premium

By Ray Sclafani | June 17, 2014

As LinkedIn becomes an increasingly popular source for client referrals, advisors are getting more serious about how to use it as a resource. We’re frequently asked questions regarding the best Linked In strategy for FAs, and have outlined a few tips to consider here that will maximize your use of this incredible tool.


Figuring out your firm: For financial advisors and CEOs who’ve hung their own shingle, the LinkedIn world is your oyster to explore and take advantage of whatever you please. As long as you keep your content relevant to the needs of the market and pertinent to your clients, you’re in the clear. However, advisors who work at wire-house firms have a harder time. For these advisors I recommend the following:

One, if your firm is responsible for keeping your profile page current, be proactive about checking in with them to update your services, corporate title, designations, and markets you serve. And be as specific as possible! Especially if you are using a firm provided template, the details you include in it may be the only way you can differentiate yourself from the guy sitting at the desk down the hall from you. 

Two, take advantage of the resources the marketing team at your firm provides. Some firms, like Morgan Stanley, provide a library of pre-approved content from which advisors can select and regularly post. See what content has been approved for advisors at your firm, and make sure you are given access to all the material to scan what’s best for you. Set aside an afternoon to look through it, tie the articles to your overall message, and create a calendar of posts that speak to your clients and their unique financial picture.


Linking with your competitors: As an advisor, for better or for worse, you’re in an industry which places you in a very tight network of your peers. You probably find that people in similar roles to yours frequently view your LinkedIn account or request to be connected to you. I consider every invitation to connect on LinkedIn carefully, as I want a real network, not just a lot of "connections." Therefore, if I believe there is a connection that won't serve me, my clients or other connections well on a digital media level, than I will "ignore" the invitation to connect.  It's not rude.

However, there’s an upside to connecting with your competitors as well. If you’ve sufficiently honed in on your ideal client space, and you make sure that those potential competitors you consider linking in with are doing so as well, it could end up being a benefit. The more specific you are about your niche, the more potential there is for synergies between your businesses that don’t actually overlap with people serving similar markets. In this way, connections with your “competition” on LinkedIn could actually end up delivering you professional advocates or centers of influence you wouldn’t have been aware of previously. It’s also a good exercise in holding you accountable to being specific about the networks you serve on LinkedIn.


Upgrading to premium: Before you consider upgrading to premium, make sure you’ve completed step one above. It would be a shame to upgrade only to find out that your firm doesn’t support those aspects of the premium account of which you were hoping to take advantage.

If you do decide to upgrade, consider how seriously you are about using LinkedIn as a networking tool. And do so REALISTICALLY. I know several advisors who have foot the bill to upgrade their account only to use it in the same capacity that they did before upgrading. I have found that the upgrade can be so powerful, from both a client acquisition and referral network perspective, that it’s often worth paying a designated person to really take advantage of using the LinkedIn Premium Account. A digital marketing manager should be well adept at really mining your network by paying close attention to the analytics provided. For more specifics on how to take advantage of LinkedIn Premium, see our previous blog: Getting the Most Out of Your LinkedIn Analytics.


We also see a lot of professionals using LinkedIn as a business development tool beyond client acquisition. Accessing content or reading about the strategies of other advisors, as mentioned above, is a popular way to inform the way you run your practice. However, this can be a frustrating task for advisors who work for a firm that restricts their access, or who don’t want to sort through content about several other industries in their newsfeed.

For these advisors we recommend using another community, the eXchange, which is geared specifically to financial advisors, and allows for more freedom in the exchange of ideas, and maintains a consistent focus on practice management for financial advisors.


Coaching questions from this article:

  1. What is your ultimate goal with LinkedIn? Are you using it as a branding tool or as a means to truly connect with the demographic you serve, and other professionals serving that same demographic?
  2. Is your LinkedIn demographic a network of your potential clients or a smattering of the professionals and colleagues you’ve encountered along your career path? Be careful that you’re targeting the audience you want to.
  3. Is your LinkedIn profile really representative of who you are and what you are doing currently in your financial services business? Would your clients agree with your perspective on this?
  4. Are you committing the time you need to really make the most of this networking tool and, if not, what can you do to maximize your access to what could potentially be a very valuable network of connections? 



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