Early in 2014, I attended my first ABA conference. I was excited, but also nervous, because I was swimming in uncharted waters. Here I stood in a room full of banking executives, anticipating they would all want to speak with me because of how great LinkedIn is and how much potential there is for their bankers to utilize it as a sales tool. I couldn’t wait. It was going to be a slam dunk. Everyone would get it, almost instantly.
The responses I received were less than expected; confusion as to why LinkedIn was at a banking conference, paired with “I have a profile and log in every once in a while.” As a millennial and someone who touches LinkedIn as a connectivity tool daily, I was expecting my audience to understand everything about it. Wow was I naïve. With that experience in my back pocket, my new quest is to help financial services professionals everywhere became excited, educated and engaged with LinkedIn. Here’s why:
As a banker, your reputation is everything. You build your career on a foundation of trust. You earn new clients through relationships and referrals. You have a strong network of colleagues, clients, COIs and partners.
A few words to pick out: reputation, trust, relationships, and network. In essence and in a virtual sense, that’s what LinkedIn is all about. Here’s a place to build your online reputation and an opportunity to build that trust on an ongoing basis. It’s a platform for you to map your relationships and create referral opportunities you otherwise may have never known about. It’s a network of over 347 million professionals and building by two members every one second.
First let’s focus on your reputation and building trust. For starters, begin thinking about your LinkedIn profile in the same way you set up your office. Presentation to your clients is a priority—photos, awards, and banners hanging from your wall or sitting on your desk, whether it’s a favorite sports team or your alma mater, are representations of your personality in the most welcoming sense. You want to establish your expertise, but you’re not going to hand them your resume to tell them what you’ve done. It’s the same with your LinkedIn profile.
Your summary is a key component of your profile and it should be right under your color photo and creative tagline (the headline of your profile). Describe in your summary the passion you have for your industry and your clients. Discuss how you can help entrepreneurs from a business, personal or wealth perspective. The more clients can identify with you, the more likely they are to trust you.
Continue to build relationships within your LinkedIn network. There are likely hundreds and thousands of people whom you have met face-to-face, done business with or with whom you attended school. Without being proactive you will miss the opportunity to connect with those individuals on LinkedIn.
It’s simple—the next business card you get, take 30 seconds and type that person’s name into LinkedIn. When you attend an event in your community get a list ahead of time to learn who is on LinkedIn. Send personal connection requests mentioning why you’d like to connect, and bingo—you’re off to networking right from your desk as well as in person. It’s a double win – for you and for them. Plus, you can now see others that individual knows and may be able to refer you to. It’s that easy! Be careful, though—don’t simply connect with anyone and everyone, as you want your network to be populated with the RIGHT individuals.
Your profile is key. It’s your personal brand 24/7. Care for it as you do your reputation in the community. Connecting with those that you can help and that can help you is key benefit of our network. There is so much more, however, that LinkedIn offers:
LinkedIn has a team dedicated to helping bankers do more with LinkedIn. We can help you build your business and efficiently attain personal goals by doing what you’re already doing now, but in a more efficient way to give you more time with your families, friends, and even your clients on the golf course.
I’ll be more prepared the next time I speak to a valued banking group. The first experience made me want more. It’s the same with LinkedIn. The more you play, the more it will pay.
For more information please go to LinkedIn’s financial services page, located here. Also, feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn—just be sure to tell me why you’re connecting!
Mark Cook is a financial services client executive at LinkedIn. He and his team through the world are helping bankers foster new client relationships through social collaboration and through leveraging the many tools on the LinkedIn platform.