How to Do a Better Job of Prospecting on LinkedIn

LinkedIn was founded in 2002.  In 2004 it hit one million users.  By 2007 it hit 10 million users.(1).  Today LinkedIn has about 830 million users.(2)  Search on “financial advisor” and you get 1,770,000 results.  Search on “CPA” and you see 1,120,000 results.  You get 220,000 results when entering “financial planner.”  LinkedIn has been discovered by these professionals, but I think it is an overlooked business resource.

  1. You get out what you put in.  On the face of it, this doesn’t sound like a good investment.  Don’t you want to get more than you put in, a return on your investment?  In this case, I mean something else.  You need to be proactive.  You cannot wait for business to come to you.
  2. The only thing worse than being talked about, is not being talked about.  Oscar Wilde is credited with this one.  You need to engage with other people, not simply post content, expecting a response.
  3. On the Internet, nobody knows that you are a dog.  Many people have tried automating their presence on LinkedIn.  They have a firm approved library of Compliance approved article (a good thing) which are posted automatically through a computer program. (a bad thing.)  When a connection does not respond or engage, many people assume you are an automated program, not a real person.
  4. I find the harder I work, the luckier I get.  Sam Goldwyn and Thomas Jefferson are each given credit for this one. You need to have a routine you follow on a daily basis.  Sometimes people engage, other times they don’t.  You have good days and bad days.
  5. Consider the cost.  The basic version of LinkedIn is free.  That works for me.  My only investment is my time.  Although people who cold call think about the ideal time to call for maximum results, generally speaking you can focus on LinkedIn anytime you choose, day or night.  Your financial cost is basically zero, only your time. (Which has a value.)

Seven Steps to Establishing Yourself on LinkedIn

As a financial planner, accountant or financial advisor, you would like to attract more clients.  LinkedIn can be a useful place to raise your visibility.  Here is how I have gone about it.

  1. Build a network.  Ideally you create a universe of connections who might do business or help you find business.  In addition to inviting people I know, I scan under job titles of people I would like to know, specifically seeking out 2nd level connections.  I send an invitation, referencing our number of shared connections.  I try to give a compelling reason why it is worthwhile for the to connect.  Be as personal and specific as possible.
  2. Get to know them.  For a few years I made it my mission to reach out to every connection individually.  Today I have almost 4,100 connections.  I share some personal background information and ask them to talk about themselves.  Over a year, about 37% write back. 
  3. Join groups.  Pick some groups aligned to your interests or target market.  This gives you exposure to people who are not yet connections, but might have an interest in what you have to share.  The best groups do not permit outright selling.
  4. Post article links.  I write lots of articles, so I post linked to them.  I post to the daily feed and to my (35) groups. Providing contents starts moving you towards becoming a subject matter expert.
  5. Respond to comments.  LinkedIn notifies you if someone commented on your post, regardless of if they are a connection or not.  I think someone who made an effort to write back should be applauded!  Develop a routine to seek out and answer these comments every day.  It’s pretty easy.  Invite some (or all) to connect.
  6. Now it’s time to make some comments.  OK, so you will answer comments to your posts.  How about returning the favor?  Once a week I visit each of my groups, scroll through and try to comment on at least two posts per group.  (This is harder than it sounds as plenty of posts are ads of one sort or another.)   This is another way to drive engagement.
  7. Pay attention to notifications.  This category includes three subcategories (among other things).  These subcategories are birthdays, work anniversaries and job changes.  I try to send a message for each notification.  Some people are not good at being creative.  They might not reply to my introductory e-mail.  Many reply to birthday greetings.  It’s a start.

These steps are easy to follow.  They do not take too much time, although writing to each connection (point #2) is a big job.)  LinkedIn can consume more time than you can imagine!  According to Review42 (4), “the average adult is spending 38 minutes a day on Facebook.  Younger people aged 16-24 spend three hours each day on social media.”

I think of LinkedIn as similar to the US Mail, which arrives once per day.  I check it out first thing in the morning, then do other things for the remainder of the day.

Related: Why Agendas for Client Meetings Are a Powerful Tool