NEW YORK While there are different tricks for using social media to meet new clients, advisor Timothy Adams offers one with a twist: He is on a mission to meet in person the more than 500 people he's already connected with via LinkedIn.
"What I'm trying to do is to put my face to a name," Adams explained. "It's fun to have a lot of connections, but are you really connecting with them?"
Financial advisors like Adams shared their best tips and experiences with attendees at a SIFMA conference on social media Thursday.
Adams said that his LinkedIn meetings have not only strengthened existing relationships, but have helped him make new connections as well.
"Anecdotally, when I look at this, it puts more information not only in my mind about the guy that I am talking to but more information in his mind about me" said Adams, who is based in Yardley, Pa., and affiliated with Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network.
While best practices may vary between firms and individual advisors, speakers urged attendees to start participating on social networks if they havent already. "You have to be active. And you can't not be involved," said Mary Strickland, an advisor at Baird.
Strickland, based in Madison, Wis., told attendees that she uses social media networks and tools to find new prospects in her niches, which include clients interested in socially responsible investing and women professionals.
"If you have a niche, and the more you can develop that, then the more social media can be part of your overall marketing strategy," explained Strickland, who likes to use LinkedIn and Twitter. Her efforts have brought in new assets, sometimes indirectly because prospective clients learned about her specializations through those networks.
Likewise, advisor Jamie Cox leverages social media to target his niche: telephone company employees.
"I know a lot about the process and retirement packages of telephone companies. On Twitter, I follow some terms very closely, like pension de-risking," said Cox, managing partner of Harris Financial Group, which is affiliated with LPL Financial.
Charles Camilleri, an independent advisor with Ameriprise Financial Services, said social media has been a boon for reinforcing existing client relationships. Actively using these networks can help you stay in the mind of clients and remind them of the value you add as an advisor, said Camilleri, who is based in Briarcliff Manor, N.Y.
But even just being visible on different networks has its own benefits. An old college buddy-turned-doctor found advisor Evan Shear via social networks and quickly became a new client.
"If I never had been on social media, he would never have found me," said Shear, the founding partner of Crossley Shear Wealth Management, an independent firm affiliated with Raymond James Financial Services.
Speakers at the conference recommended offering personal details on social networks because it would make it easier for clients to connect with advisors. But being too forward and open can have its own pitfalls if the content is shared with the wrong audience.
"On Facebook, I can be a bit more opinionated," acknowledged Shear. "You have to be very careful about who you let into that life."
He said he keeps that network strictly for close friends and family. But Shear still emphasized that it is important to be genuine on whatever network an advisor uses. "Clients see a different side. I'm the president of our [local] epilepsy association, and we use social media to promote that."
For his part, Cox takes the call to be authentic on social networks to a new level: "No one touches my Twitter handle but me. I do that because I want people to know that the other person on that handle, and this goes to the genuine part, is the real me."
While much of this could sound like additional work to some advisors, it's actually an extension of what advisors already do, the speakers said. In fact, Cox argued that social media networks are great tools for improving productivity.
"People say, 'Oh I don't have time for social media,' I say you don't have time not to be on social media.
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