Beverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues. To submit yours, email us here.
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I receive many requests to connect on LinkedIn. Today I received a note from someone who saw me on the agenda for the TD Ameritrade conference for January 31st and February 2nd this year. I accepted the connection and immediately received the following question:
How would you suggest that I find clients in the RIA market? I have been in the financial services industry for 20+ years.
While this is technically not an “Ask Bev” question, it is a great opportunity to give some tips on the best ways to network if you want to engage people and get results. LinkedIn (LI) can be a great tool to research, see what others are doing, learn new information and meet people. But it is becoming abused as a way to find prospects and pitch to them.
If you want to use LI for outbound marketing, use these tips for greater effectiveness:
- Don’t connect just to sell to someone. People don’t enjoy being used and when you do a broad search by using key words, or descriptors, and then find your target, and then send your canned pitch, it’s not very compelling! The blog I wrote on LI may be helpful. I wrote it when I received an inquiry from someone who told me I could become as popular as a “dope dealer on spring break.” Given my lifestyle as a college professor and mother of college-aged kids, this was not only a turn off but disturbing. It’s fine to use a mass marketing message from time to time, but make sure your message is geared to your audience.
- If you need help from someone, be clear about exactly what you need. I knew nothing of this person, and did not have the time to review the profile. When I received this request, I had no idea about the context – what kind of clients is this person looking for? What would they want to present as a product or service? What exactly do they want from me? Is this advice, or introductions? Even after reading this question a few times, I could not glean what, exactly, was being asked. If you want something – be clear about what it is. If you want an introduction from a client or contact, take the time to peruse who they know and ask for the specific person. If you want some general help, or idea generating, ask if the person has some time to spare to talk with you. If you want a written response on ideas, state that. People are busy, but most people like to help. However if you don’t make it easy for them to do so, they will ignore your request.
- Seem interested. I’d like to say “be interested” but not everyone is as fascinated by human behavior as I am! So, at least take a periphery interest in the person you are contacting. Learn something about them, “I see you have changed jobs”, or “I noticed you have a number of contacts at a firm I am very familiar with” or “I’d really like to learn more about X.” If you want to cultivate responses, take time to build some sort of bridge with the person. Again, most people don’t like to be used so take the time to get to know them – even just a little bit.
- Make sure your personal or professional story is solid. If you want help from others, they will likely go check out your profile. If you want a referral, or some support, or you want to market your services, be sure it is very clear what you can do and how you do it. It’s fine to just have a profile if you aren’t looking to find a job, or sell something, but if you are – make sure you invest the time and energy into conveying your story in a clear and understandable way. Remember this is a one-way medium, so you don’t have the chance to charm a prospect the way you might in person, you have to communicate quickly and easily through the written word. This takes time and focus so don’t go about asking for referrals or marketing until you’ve done this.
Read the full article here by Beverly Flaxington.