The Financial Advisor's Guide to LinkedIn – Part 3: Building Your Professional Network

By Loic Jeanjean and Lisa Craviero, Advisor Websites on Thursday, January 27th, 2011

Welcome to Part 3 of our complete LinkedIn guide for financial advisors. For those of you unfamiliar with the business-oriented social networking site, LinkedIn offers a number of features that will help increase your visibility within the financial industry and promote your services.

Part 3: Building Your Professional Network
Now comes the fun part where you can search and find people you know both personally and professionally. While you can eventually start requesting invitations to meet someone new, this section will focus on adding connections that you already know and requesting recommendations from them to complete your profile.

There are 5 basic ways to find and add connections on LinkedIn.

  1. Scan your e-mail contact list.
  2. Use your profile keywords to search for colleagues and classmates.
  3. The “People You May Know” feature.
  4. Conduct a manual search with the people search box.
  5. See who your connections know.

We will go through each method of finding and adding connections. It is up to you which method you’d like to use first, but you will likely end up trying all of them at some point to ensure optimum coverage of all potential connections.

To begin, click on “Add Connections”, located in the top right hand corner of the browser.

1. Scan your e-mail contact list. Under the first “Add Connections” tab, you will see the option to enter your email address and password.

 LinkedIn will search your email contacts and locate those who use LinkedIn, and give you the option to invite those that don’t. Add all those you would like to connect with. Feel free to return and try another email address.

TIP: LinkedIn will only be able to search through Hotmail, Gmail, AOL and Yahoo Accounts. You can, however, import contacts from your Outlook or Apple Mail application.

2. Use your profile keywords to search for colleagues and classmates. Based on the information you provided in your profile, the second and third tab titled “Colleagues” and “Classmates” allows you to search for all LinkedIn users who worked at the same companies as you, or alternatively, went to the same school as you.

Simply click the name of the company or school to see who you may know.

3. The “People You May Know” feature. Using this feature, LinkedIn will suggest a large list of users that you may already know. Recently, LinkedIn updated the feature so that you can now filter your search based on a number of categories. This list will get more accurate and longer as your list of connections grows, so don’t be discouraged at first. Some of the filters available include current companies, past companies, and schools.

TIP: If LinkedIn recommends someone you don’t know or don’t wish to connect with, click on the ‘x’ to the right of the box so that this user will not be suggested to you each time you click on this feature.

4. Conduct a Manual Search. If you can think of a specific person you would like to add, or one you’d simply like to search for to see if they have an account, you are able to do a manual search using the box in the top right hand corner.

TIP: Search for your clients on LinkedIn and add them as connections. This is a great way to stay connected, and will be a great starting point when you ask for referrals. You’ll also be able to get one degree closer to their connections.

5. See who your connections know. Once you’ve added some connections, you may want to browse through their list of connections to see if you can spot some familiar names. You’ll be surprised at how many people you know! We will talk more about this feature in our Part 5 section on prospecting.

Requesting Recommendations

Once you’ve added your connections, you’ll want to start requesting a few recommendations.

WARNING: Financial professionals based in the US are not allowed to have public recommendations due to compliancy regulations. We recommend you still get 3 recommendations and keep them private so that your profile is still seen as 100% complete.

What is it?
A recommendation is a brief endorsement of your work from someone you know, whether in a personal or professional capacity. Professional relationships will no doubt receive more credibility and should be a first choice. If possible, try to get recommendations from a superior or, alternatively, a client.

Do I need them?
Recommendations are a great addition to your profile. They will help boost your reputation and add to your credibility. Try to get at least 3 recommendations to have a 100% complete profile. As mentioned earlier, a complete profile is 40 times more likely to get found and will appear higher in LinkedIn search rankings.

How do I make a request?
To ask someone to recommend your work, go to your profile page and scroll down to the recommendations section located below your education. You will notice the small blue link ‘Ask for a Recommendation’.

Once you’ve clicked on the link, you will have three tabs available so that you can view your received recommendations, sent recommendations and have the option to request recommendations. Click on the ‘request recommendations’ tab.

Click ‘send’ at the bottom of the page and you’re done! You will be alerted once you receive the recommendation. You will be able to publish it to your profile, request further edits, or discard the message if it does not meet your standards.

TIP: Here is a list of all the sections you will need to fill to have a complete profile:

  1. A current position.
  2. Two past positions.
  3. Education.
  4. Profile summary.
  5. A profile photo.
  6. Specialties.
  7. At least three recommendations.

Now that you’ve got a complete (or near complete) profile, we will move on next time in Part 4 to learning about how to join and interact with groups and begin prospecting for potential clients.

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