LinkedIn, with more than 575 million users, is a digital gold mine. Nearly half of those are active users who are posting about their careers, networking and sharing expertise and advice. It’s a social network with tremendous potential for financial advisors.
Unfortunately, less professional and ineffective engagement can and does happen on LinkedIn as well. You can sidestep obstacles to your LinkedIn success, though, when you avoid these big five credibility-busting blunders.
Blunder No. 1: Being vague in why a connection is requested, especially with someone you don’t know well. Some people believe more connections are better. However, some connection requests aren’t accepted. This can happen when someone doesn’t know the person or the reason the sender wants to network.
Try instead: A connection request with a personalized note puts the connection request into context for the receiver. Clearly state why a request has been sent and how the connection benefits both parties. For example, if a client recommends you reach out to their friend on LinkedIn because they might have questions about a life insurance policy, explain that in the LinkedIn connection request.
Blunder No. 2: Focusing on selling vs. connecting. Many LinkedIn users complain about this practice, which seems to have become more common. After a connection has been accepted, the next message is a lengthy sales pitch. What is even more surprising is the immediate request for a call or meeting. This is a request of someone’s time without taking time to connect first. A focus on selling will not help with finding clients or enhancing your reputation and image. This type of communication does little for the recipient.
Try instead: Thank the person for the connection and share something that might benefit them, such as a video or article. You can state that the person who referred you to them found this retirement planning video of interest and thought they might too. Sharing knowledge goes a long way.
Blunder No. 3: Not investing in a current professional-looking photo. One of the first digital impressions from a LinkedIn profile is the profile photo. Using a photo that is too casual or outdated misses an opportunity to showcase your professionalism. A photo is a visual precursor to meeting a client. Wisely invest in a professional photo that can be used in a variety of ways online.
Try instead: If you don’t invest in a professional photo, even a quick shot with your cell phone can work. Direct natural morning or late afternoon lighting is best and capture from the shoulders up to minimize distractions in the background.
Blunder No. 4: Posting on politics. While you may have an opinion on the political climate, avoid sharing it on LinkedIn. Posts and articles on LinkedIn should highlight expertise, provide knowledge and leadership within an industry and share resources that can help networks. Political postings do not fall into these categories. In fact, they may be off-putting to existing and future networks.
Try instead: If you wish to share political viewpoints, consider posting to another social media channel. Keep the LinkedIn channel focused on how to provide professional leadership and insight.
Blunder No. 5: It’s LinkedIn, not “Love Connection.” With so many other dating apps and websites available to find a soul mate, LinkedIn is not the place to request a connection with the purpose of asking someone out. Not only is this request unprofessional, but it can also easily come across as creepy, especially for women. LinkedIn users are there for career and networking opportunities, and they expect others to do the same.
Try instead: Use LinkedIn for its primary purpose, namely professional networking. Save the search for love to those websites or apps that have been specifically created for that reason.
If these blunders are avoided, LinkedIn has vast potential to connect with experts and clients as well as learn about industry trends. If you showcase your professionalism and expertise, you’ll harness LinkedIn’s power.
Lisa Apolinski, CMC, is a digital strategist, author and founder of 3 Dog Write Inc. She works with companies to develop and share their messages using digital assets. Her latest book, Persuade With A Digital Content Story!, is available on Amazon. For information on her agency’s digital services, visit 3DogWrite.com.
For more about how to use social media professionally:
- Read the “Secrets of social media,” a 2020 MDRT Annual Meeting and Global Conference presentation (MDRT members only)
- Watch “How to use social media to spread the word,” a 2020 MDRT Annual Meeting and Global Conference presentation (MDRT members only)
- Read “Social media shortcut” from Round the Table magazine