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Advisors: 3 steps to make a good impression online

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As a former advisor, I know how important it is to have all the details in place.

When I started in this industry as a CFP over 25 years ago I began working with a new couple. The wife asked if I knew why they chose to work with me. Because I had just hosted a two-day workshop, I assumed it was because of the impressive amount of technical information I had shared. So I was surprised when she said: “It was your shoes. I noticed on Tuesday that you had a really nice shine on your shoes, and I thought, ‘I wonder if he always keeps them that nice.’ Then on Thursday, I noticed you had polished them again. I told my husband that anyone who takes such good care of his shoes will take good care of our money.”

These words have guided me throughout my career, especially as I have created public-facing marketing materials for advisors. In this digital age it may be a long time before you actually come face-to-face with potential clients, so they don’t have the opportunity to check out the press of your clothes or the shine on your shoes.

But if you have a funky website or send out emails with typos, it will work against you in just the same way as scuffed shoes and a messy desk. So here are three quick ways to put a fresh shine on your social media sites:

1. Polish your Facebook business page.

It's surprising that a lot of advisors have not yet set up for a Facebook business page because it's a great place to share both professional and personal details that help people understand who you are as a person. Advisor Jim Maendel, of Maendel Wealth Management in Farmington Hills, Mich., has done a great job with this. [Full disclosure: Jim Maendel is a client of my firm, FMG Suite.]

After setting up his company page, Maendel looked up local sites for businesses, schools and community organizations that his clients were associated with and began leaving comments there. He’d say something like this: “Enjoyed dropping in from Maendel Wealth Management. I enjoy your Facebook page.” Doing this would lead other people back to his business Facebook page to follow and reciprocate with a comment. With that simple beginning he began to build conversations with other businesses and organizations in his community.

Maendel spends about 20 minutes a day on his social sites, using a combination of automated posts and personal comments. Every few days he posts about something fun, like a community event or a sports event he attended. He wants his followers to see a variety of content to bring them back often. Now, with over 2,000 followers and counting, Jim’s Facebook business page offers him a rich vein to tap for presentations, referrals and new business.

2. Rewrite your LinkedIn profile.

Think of your LinkedIn Profile as a job application, since you are seeking to be employed as an advisor to your potential client. Take some time and write a persuasive, impressive statement of your skills, specialties and experience. Have friends review it and give you honest feedback.

If you try to be all things to all people there, you won’t attract anyone. Let people know how you are compensated, what your specialties are and what sets you apart from the competition. Remember to use keyword-rich phrases that lead search engines to you as well.

One more hint: Make sure that you have a professional looking picture on your profile. We help hundreds of advisors with websites and social media, and we are continually surprised by the lousy photos they put up on these crucial sites. Go down to the mall and get a professional headshot taken – it’s worth it.

3. Invite 50 people to connect on LinkedIn.

Once you have a profile worth looking at, invite 50 business owners to connect on Linkedin this month. This may seem too obvious, but have you been consistently building your network there? Why not? LinkedIn now has approximately 277 million members, including executives from every Fortune 500 company, according to the company's 2013 fourth quarter report.

Rafi Rodriguez, of Rodriguez Financial Strategies in Beavercreek, Ohio, set a goal last year to reach out to over 500 connections. In one year he surpassed 1,000 connections. [Full disclosure: Rafi Rodriquez is a client of my firm, FMG Suite.]

Here is his simple, but effective, strategy: Every time Rodriquez goes to an event and meets people he asks them for a business card. He goes home and immediately looks them up on LinkedIn and reaches out to them. Once he has reached out to them there, he throws their business cards away because he knows that LinkedIn will be the most valuable place he can be connected to them.

In addition, because he is actively posting on LinkedIn, he often has people reaching out to connect with him. He says, “I never submit the canned LinkedIn statement when I reach out. I always personalize it. Canned statements sound like you’re chasing people down.” This approach has resulted in a more than 95% success rate in connecting with people. Rodriguez's professional network and his overall clientele have grown as a direct result.

These three simple things will help you upgrade your social media marketing effort without chewing up too much time. Taking just a few minutes every day to put a little extra shine on your social media efforts, you will find that great things can result.

Craig Faulkner is the CEO of FMG Suite, offering a complete inbound marketing solution for financial professionals, from websites to email newsletters to a customized mobile app. You can follow him @fmgsuite on Twitter.

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