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How to use LinkedIn to win more business in your niche

Four easy steps will help you get a list of prospects, but then there's a caveat

Wednesday, June 16, 2010 – 4:13 AM by By Kevin Nichols
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Kevin Nichols: LinkedIn is by far the social media connection of choice for affluent investors.

Recently, we met a financial advisor who asked us for ideas about how to further develop the niche he focuses on: advising local physicians.

“Do you have any ideas on how I can accelerate the process?” he asked.

I think Dan was expecting my response to involve lunch & learns, seminars at the local hospital or a direct mail campaign. Far from it.

Instead, I gave him with a quick one-liner that seemed to knock him off balance: “You should run a search through LinkedIn.”

As you can see in the charts below, word-of-mouth is the key to many decisions made by the affluent. What’s also important to know is that they prefer personal introductions to referrals.

But the affluent are online, familiar with the Internet and using it for secondary research. LinkedIn is by far their social media connection of choice.

How to connect the dots? The technology – LinkedIn — is best used to get you face-to-face with affluent prospects. When selling in the world of the affluent, you are selling in an environment filled with skepticism and cynicism.

Primary method the affluent use in select a financial professional:
Ask friends, family, or colleagues for advice 42%
Ask another professional for advice (CPA, attorney, etc.) 23%
Do online research 12%
Other 9%
Call a branch office of a major firm 5%

Source: 2010 Oechsli Institute Research

Users with household income above $75,000
Facebook 42%
MySpace 32%
LinkedIn 58%
Twitter 43%

Source: 2009 Nielsen Co.

LinkedIn, as compared to other social networking websites, has a robust search feature. Many professionals who use LinkedIn don’t take advantage of this feature, which allows you to see if anyone in your extended network is connected to someone who fits your prospect profile. If leveraged the right way, it can serve as an excellent resource to expand your network and pinpoint prospects.

I pulled Dan aside, we fired up his laptop and I walked him through a four-step process for engaging the advanced search feature through LinkedIn. We then walked through the right way to put this information to use – which is the most important part.

Dan had already built a strong foundation of 1st degree connections. The more 1st degree connections you have, the more valuable the advanced search feature and the higher probability that you will find a mutual connection.

Step 1: Select the People and Advanced Feature

Start this process by denoting “people” in the search bar in the upper right hand corner and select the “advanced” button. This will take you to the advanced search page. From here, you can enter the details for the type of prospect you are looking for.

Step 2: Use Keywords

You want to input any phrases or keywords that are likely to be in listed on your ideal prospect’s profile. In Dan’s case, he is developing a niche with doctors, so under “keywords” we input a generic term such as “physician.”

Step 3: Select the Industry

Scroll through the list of industries and select one that makes sense for your target market. You can select more than one. For Dan, we selected “Medical Practice.”

Step 4: Select the Proximity

Here is where you can really start to narrow your focus to local prospects. Under the location field, plug in your zip code and narrow your results to say a 50 mile radius around you. This will ensure that your search results stay relatively nearby.

Obviously, there are a lot of additional options to select with your search, but the majority of your results can be accomplished with these four simple steps.

You are now ready to start the search. Once you run the query, LinkedIn will create a list of contacts who meet your specifications. As you scroll through the results, be on the lookout for 2nd degree connections (this will be denoted beside their name). A 2nd degree connection means there is someone to which you both are mutually connected. From here LinkedIn will actually show you the person who is between yourself and this newly discovered 2nd degree connection.

The caveat

So now what? Now that you have identified your prospect’s connections you can brainstorm a way to get in front of them. Even though LinkedIn has a feature to ask for introductions electronically – take that approach with caution. It’s tempting to take the easy way out, and keep your prospect at a distance through the web. Instead, consider using your sales skills and circling back for an introduction through your mutual connection.

Dan was amazed by how simple this was – but it had never crossed his mind. A quick advanced search on LinkedIn, some detective work to uncover a handful of local physicians, identifying some mutual connections and circling back for a face-to-face meeting with his ideal profile prospect….presto! Just like that Dan has taken his marketing to another level.

Using LinkedIn properly, so can you.

Kevin Nichols is the director of marketing at the Oechsli Institute and is a leading expert on social media marketing. Kevin can be reached at kevin.nichols@oechsli.com or 800-883-6582.



Mike Byrnes

Mike Byrnes

June 18, 2010 — 4:40 AM

Well stated. LinkedIn is a great research tool that can help increase businesss for advisors.

Those not on LinkeIn should also read this list of reasons of why they should be:
http://byrnesconsulting.com/2010/03/30/not-using-linkedin-you-should-be/

Mike Byrnes, President, Byrnes Consulting, LLC, www.byrnesconsulting.com

maria marsala

maria marsala

January 1, 2014 — 10:52 PM

With the exception of the numbers changing, this articles is as relevant today as it was when it was written. What I’d add to it is that FAs should join a few GROUPS pertaining to associations they belong to, or want to learn from — but just a few please. You’re much better off joining groups based on 1) who your ideal clients are, what your passions are, etc. This way you stay away from financial issues/advice and compliance! By doing this you let people know who you are away from your career. When they like what they see, they’ll ask to connect.

Maria Marsala, President of Elevating Your (Financial) Business
http://www.ElevatingYourBusiness.com

Vicki Winterton

Vicki Winterton

June 23, 2010 — 8:16 PM

I work as a productivity coach / professional organizer who focuses on small businesses and work-from-home businesses. I specialize in putting in place simplified and easy to manage organization systems for their papers (both incoming and reference) and computer data. Because word of mouth is not typically used by my satisfied clients, I feel LinkedIn is a marvelous option for me. Thanks for the input Kevin!

maria marsala

maria marsala

January 1, 2014 — 10:53 PM

With the exception of the numbers changing, this articles is as relevant today as it was when it was written. What I’d add to it is that FAs should join a few GROUPS pertaining to associations they belong to, or want to learn from — but just a few please. You’re much better off joining groups based on 1) who your ideal clients are, what your passions are, etc. This way you stay away from financial issues/advice and compliance! By doing this you let people know who you are away from your career. When they like what they see, they’ll ask to connect.

Maria Marsala, President of Elevating Your (Financial) Business
http://www.ElevatingYourBusiness.com

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