Many people struggle with small talk or feel awkward when simply checking in with someone. It gets old to send a note that says, “Hope this finds you well. Just wanted to check in with you. How are you?”
LinkedIn Contacts is trying to help. LinkedIn has added some new features that remove some of the anxiety that comes with staying in touch with professional contacts. It’s a useful marketing tool, especially for small and one-person businesses.
Here are six stress-free ways to stay in touch using LinkedIn.
1. Send congratulations!
If you opt-in, LinkedIn emails you daily updates on your connections that have a new or changed status. It could be a new job, job anniversary, birthday, promotion or appearance in an article.
Before sending hearty congrats, check your contact’s profile to make sure the change is really news. Some marketing experts are recommending that you change your headline every month or so, just to show up in the update list. If your contact has simply changed the wording, you might want to skip the congratulations – or you could comment on the change and ask if that’s working for them.
For true new or changed jobs, in addition to the congratulations, you have an opportunity to learn what they do on a daily basis and what kind of help or resources they may need, so you can keep an eye out for them and see if you can help. Make a note of their responses in their profile under Relationship. (Only you can see this.) Better yet, schedule a reminder to follow up.
2. Add your regular clients to your profile
LinkedIn adds new features all the time. And one of those allowed people to add clients they work with on a steady basis. Posting one you’ve worked with for a long time allows people who get the updates to see the addition.
They might think you have a new job and send you congratulations. But that actually gives you a good excuse to have a conversation. Write back with a note of thanks, explain you were taking advantage of a new feature (in case they don’t know about it) and ask what they’re working on.
3. Connect with contacts on your travels
Traveling for an event, meeting or even to visit family? Before you depart, look to see which contacts live in the area of your destination. Reach out to see if they’d like to meet up. Set the meeting before you leave and ensure you have contact information in case you’re delayed or plans changed.
4. Reconnect with those you haven’t contacted with in a while
Browse your connections for people you haven’t had a conversation with for a long time. In case you have a lot of connections, filter by “Connections Only” to shorten the list. List still too long? Shorten it by filtering by company, tag, location and other fields.
By default, contacts are sorted by “Recent Conversations,” so you’ll have to scroll a bit to find older conversations. (The Page Down button comes in handy here.) LinkedIn bases your last conversation on LinkedIn activity and email — if you’ve connected your Gmail, Yahoo! or Outlook email account to LinkedIn. (See sync your contacts.) Beware of this in case you’ve chatted with a contact on Twitter, Facebook or other social network. Remember to keep notes in the person’s profile.
5. Use reminders
Next time you have a conversation with a connection, note special details, such as plans to speak at a conference, go on a fishing trip with the kids and so on. Put this note in the person’s profile and set a reminder to follow up with the person after the event occurs to ask about it.
6. Share curated content
How many times have you seen a great article and shared it with someone? Why not use LinkedIn to share curated content? You get bonus points if you add commentary. Next time you find an insightful article worth sharing, use LinkedIn’s filters to find people in a related job, industry or location that are likely to benefit from the article and forward it along.
What other ways do you use LinkedIn to connect? How has using LinkedIn Contacts helped you?
Keywords in your LinkedIn profile can mean the difference between appearing in the top of LinkedIn’s results and several pages deep. Keyword placement and density can also help you move to the top of the search results.
However, some people stuff keywords in their LinkedIn profiles thinking it will boost their profiles. And some use too many different keywords, which dilutes the results. Both approaches can work against them as it looks like they’re gaming the system.
The smart way to use keywords is to identify the ones that describe what you do and what are most important to your career. Then, list keywords people use to find someone with your skills. How do you differ from everyone with the same job title and keywords? Jot those down. Find a balance of words that describe you while having some uniqueness.
Once done, do these four steps to post your keywords in your profile:
- Create your LinkedIn headline.
- Review your summary.
- Check your experience.
- Add keywords to your interests.
Beginning with your headline, ensure it displays more than your current job title and company. Put the keywords in order of importance. (Do this for all sections.) Keywords can include job titles, roles, skills, experience, value offered to employer, certifications and so on.
Here are some examples:
- President & CEO, Company Builder, Investor, Business and Corporate Development, M&A. This lists the individual’s role plus areas of expertise.
- Seasoned Improvement, ISO, Lean professional in high tech/auto/mfg/e-Waste/CDP implementation. This individual works in process improvement and lists industry specialties.
- Software Developer | Technical Writer | Editor-in-Chief | Team Coach | Space Science Journalist | Lecturer. This individual has a diverse background and these keywords make it easy to understand what the person can do.
- Sr. Software Engineer/Systems Analyst. Embedded Real-Time Firmware, Problem Solving, Troubleshooting. This headline describes the person’s role and includes the person’s most important and strongest skills.
- Keynote speaker, digital marketing expert, board member. This person makes it clear the person is available to speak, do digital marketing consulting and sit on a board as an advisory board member.
2. Review your summary.
If you’ve filled in “Summary,” revisit it to see if it contains your important keywords. The summary tells your professional story without the constraint of talking about a specific job you held. Here, sum up your career and skills.
3. Check your experience.
Go over your “Experience” and ensure your keywords appear there and as often as possible, within reason and where it makes sense.
4. Add keywords to interests.
When you enter keywords in “Interests,” LinkedIn turns them into links. So it won’t be the place to write sentences describing your professional and personal interests. Again, list them from most important to least.
When you’re done, review your LinkedIn profile as if it belongs to someone else. If anything bothers you, revise it until it passes the test. Better yet, ask a few friends and colleagues to review your profile and provide feedback.
Please share your suggestions for using keywords in a LinkedIn profile in comments.
Although many financial advisors would like to get out there in social media, they’ve been cautious and with good reason. A July 2013 SEI poll of 200 advisors has found less than a third of respondents use social media. They’re concerned about broker dealers, regulatory compliance, time and cost, archiving of social media activities and coming up with content.
Yet they know the value of social media for building relationships with clients and industry thought leaders, communicating with investors, reducing marketing costs and increasing sales. A lot has changed as regulatory organizations have issued guidelines to help financial advisors jump in the tricky waters of social media without going out of bounds.
Social Media Regulations for Financial Services
FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority) has issued Regulatory Notice 10-06, Guidance on Blog and Social Networking Web Sites. It has also issued Regulatory Notice 11-39, Guidance on Social Networking Websites and Business Communications to cover the questions not addressed in 10-06. Those two FINRA notices and FINRA Rule 2210 especially 2210(c)(6), which addresses the spot-checking of social media communications help financial services firms ensure they comply with FINRA regulations.
SEC’s 2008 Guidance on the Use of Company Web Sites also applies to social media. What’s more is that the SEC embraces social media. The SEC states firms can use social media as long as they make their social media plans clear to investors and that they don’t share information that would give any investor an unfair advantage.
Just like firms must adhere to fair-disclosure rule in all communications, it also applies to social media. Still after reading these guidelines, financial advisors may be throwing up their arms in frustration not knowing where to begin.
Start with three simple steps: Create a social media policy, undergo training and archive all online activities.
1. Create a living social media policy.
Since social media continuously develops, this living document needs to evolve with it and adapt to regulation and technology changes. A social media policy identifies the financial service firm’s goals for using social media, policies and procedures for using social media, outlines who can represent the firm in social media and lists the social media platforms supported and how each is used.
Review and address all of the points in aforementioned guidelines in the social media policy. It’s important to keep revisiting the policy as you would a business plan. As a financial services firm gains experience in using social media, it can revise the policy based on best practices and lessons learned.
2. Receive social media training.
This isn’t a one-time deal. Just like doctors and teachers undergo specialized training to keep up their knowledge and skills, financial advisors need to undergo social media training that covers the latest regulations, what content they can and can’t share online, the firm’s policy and social media best practices.
3. Archive all social media content and activities.
Archiving is a FINRA requirement and the firm needs to create a process for archiving all online content before communicating online. Archives include social media URLs, posts and updates. It also helps to have time-stamped entries for easier archive searches.
With the available social media guidelines and resources, financial services firms need not be afraid to connect with the big world of social media where many clients, investors and prospects await.
FINRA Targeted Examination Letters – Re: Spot-Check of Social Media Communications: http://www.finra.org/Industry/Regulation/Guidance/TargetedExaminationLetters/P282569
National Examination Risk Alert: Investment Adviser Use of Social Media: http://www.sec.gov/about/offices/ocie/riskalert-socialmedia.pdf [PDF]
SEC Says Social Media OK for Company Announcements if Investors Are Alerted: http://www.sec.gov/News/PressRelease/Detail/PressRelease/1365171513574#.UhTmY6zhJgc
SEC Issues Guidance Update on Social Media Filings by Investment Companies: http://www.sec.gov/News/PressRelease/Detail/PressRelease/1365171513280#.UhTmZazhJgc
One of the great results from connections is finding that someone else has arrived at the same destination from a different direction. Nurture Marketing is the brainchild of Judy Schramm, CEO at ProResource. I work with a group of entrepreneurs that have developed a similar philosophy which we call Nurture Marketing 2.0. The main focus of both our concepts is how to personally connect in a digital world. The goal is to develop mutually satisfying relationships based on trust. Here is how our approach works…
First, you have to work at it everyday. Yes I know, the digital world wants instant accomplishment. With social media as the new source for connections we think that all we have to do is set up a profile and invite people to visit our websites and somehow, magically the products and services are sold. Nice try! Valuable relationships are still produced by consistent effort over time.
Imagine your approach as a set of stairs with enough room for two people on the same step. Building a trusting relationship looks like climbing the staircase together. Before you start to climb . . .
· Prepare and Research. Prepare an honest, professional representation of who you are and what you do, because your profile makes the very important first impression. Then, research. Get to know the person that you are contacting. Read their profile and get a sense of who they are and their interests. Decide whether both of you may benefit from the connection.
· Step One: Permission. Send a professional introduction and invitation to connect. Accompany the invite with a message commenting on their profile, something that caught your interest. Keep it short and positive. You are asking for permission to continue a conversation. If they accept the invite, picture the two of you occupying the first step on the staircase.
· Step Two: Beginning the Conversation. Your response is based on their response. Talk with the people that are interested in talking with you. Thank them for accepting your invitation and ask a question about what they do or an interest that they have listed on their profile. Make it open-ended and friendly, not personal.
· Step Three: Genuine Discussion. Continue the thread of the conversation and give them a concise piece of information about what you do or share a particular challenge that you have encountered. Look for a need, want, or desire, basically some part of their life that is a challenge. Are they looking for options? Begin to analyze whether you have a solution or does their expertise offer a solution for you. Remember, a genuine connection can work both ways.
· Step Four: Building Trust. Now you can ask questions based on the information that they have given you and you can begin to develop mutual solutions. Usually, this is the step where an appointment is made to chat. An invitation to connect on Skype or over coffee is appropriate. Be prepared to answer questions and allow the conversation to be about their needs and how you can help them. Be a good listener and provide honest solutions. Remember, effective marketing for the long term is still based on relationships of mutual trust.
The rest of the staircase involves time, patience, listening and providing the parts of the solution one at a time – in other words, Nurture Marketing. Regardless of the technology we use, we are still on this planet to make friends and to serve them. That marketing strategy never changes.
Laura Like is the owner of likemychoices.biz. Since 1999, she has been developing online communities for some large companies, and helping entrepreneur-minded individuals to transition from employment to ownership.
Yes, LinkedIn has changed things again. Before shaking your head, learn about these valuable updates that will do a better job telling your business and professional stories. With a cleaner look and enhanced image features, LinkedIn profiles adopt a more visual design with bold headers and icons highlighting sections for an instant snapshot of the person or company. Refer to Fig. 1 for an example.
You can add larger photos on your company’s pages and attach images to your updates, a long overdue feature. New sections such as Projects, Volunteer Experience & Causes, Organizations and Languages reveal a richer, deeper story.
The more visual approach allows people to do more than read. They can see you and your company in action when you share presentations, videos and photos in the Summary, Experience and Education sections. Those recommendations you’ve worked hard to collect stand out. If someone recommended you in your current job, the recommendation will appear in the current job’s description as Fig. 2 shows.
These changes make it worth updating your profile and company page. The following features will be powerful allies in your connecting with others.
Everyone’s recent activity appears at the top of the profile. This includes status updates and LinkedIn activity, such as receiving endorsements. This is why it’s important to update your profile and company page on a regular basis. It’ll be the first thing people see when viewing your profile or page.
Editing also becomes an easier task with every section including the editing toolbar. The toolbar varies based on section capabilities. In the Summary, for example, you can edit it, add a link or drag it to move the section as shown in Fig. 3. Review this checklist for your LinkedIn profile to make sure you have a more complete profile.
Along with easier editing of your profile, you can now add information for your contacts. No one except you will see these additions. Go to Contact Info to access this feature to add information.
Skills and Expertise
Many people have complained about the endorsement feature where your connections endorse your skills. Now the Skills and Expertise section has value because it’s easier to spot a person’s most endorsed skills. LinkedIn lists the skills in order from most endorsements to least.
To take advantage of this, add your most important skills that don’t show up so others will endorse you for those skills. Another valuable feature in skills is that you can add and remove skills and manage endorsements. You can hide all endorsements or select people whose endorsements you don’t want to display. Just go into Edit Profile mode to make the changes.
Commonality and Connections
A neat feature is the graphic under “In common with [name]” that shows what skills and LinkedIn Groups you have in common with the person whose profile you’re viewing. Move the mouse pointer over the circle for more details.
Visit any company page and LinkedIn shows you how many connections you have by degree. If you want to connect with someone, visit the profile to find out what you have in common with each other including connections and companies.
You can get more specific in searching your network. Rather than searching everyone, you can go to a connection’s profile and search within that person’s network. If you want to find someone you know in the airline industry, jump to the Connections section in my profile and click the magnifier icon to search. This is just one way to narrow your in-network search.
Now go explore these powerful new features that might just lead you to your next client or employee.
What LinkedIn features do you recommend?