Creating an Effective LinkedIn Profile | American Funds

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Kirk Kazanjian Private Client Services Marketing Director, Capital Group
professional development

Creating an Effective LinkedIn Profile

Key Highlights

  • Building an effective LinkedIn profile is as important as having a good website.
  • Focus on those keywords most likely to be picked up by the major search engines when users look for people with your qualifications.
  • Remember to keep your profile updated with information relevant to your target audience.

Like most advisors, you probably pour an enormous amount of energy into creating and maintaining a website that conveys your firm’s expertise, outlines your personalized approach to wealth management and describes what truly makes you and your firm unique. Many advisors correctly believe that the resources that go into perfecting the website will produce an attractive return on investment because an effective website is one of the primary ways that new prospects will learn about your firm.

When it comes to their personal LinkedIn profiles, however, many advisors treat this digital property as an afterthought. They make a cursory effort to fill out the requested fields, use fairly boilerplate information and fail to keep their profiles up to date.

If you take this approach, it may be hurting your prospecting efforts more than you realize. Increasingly, LinkedIn is becoming an important way for prospects and centers of influence to find you and to learn about your experience and credentials. In fact, your LinkedIn profile — not your company’s website — might be the first match to appear when someone enters your name into a search engine. According to LinkedIn, when someone searches for an individual’s name in Google, the person’s LinkedIn page shows up on the first page of search results 90% of the time.

Given the importance of LinkedIn, I highly recommend that you invest the time and energy necessary to ensure you have a high-quality profile that tells a compelling story about your expertise and your approach. Fortunately, creating and maintaining a robust LinkedIn profile is much easier and cheaper than building a website. But it is important to understand the elements of a LinkedIn profile and how they can be used to support your marketing and prospecting efforts.

 

Things to Keep in Mind Before Creating Your LinkedIn Profile

Before you set out to create or update your LinkedIn profile, there are two important considerations to make.

Get compliance approval: It is important to work with your internal compliance officer and/or your broker-dealer’s compliance department when it comes to using social media. Most firms have issued policies, based on FINRA and SEC guidance, about what advisors are allowed to put on their profiles. These policies also govern how advisors are allowed to engage with clients and prospects on LinkedIn. If you have questions about whether your proposed text for your profile conforms with these guidelines, send compliance a draft to review before you post it.

Focus on keywords: Search engine optimization (SEO) matters for your LinkedIn profile, just as it does for your website. You want your profile to appear when people in your target audience are searching for a financial advisor — whether within LinkedIn or via a search engine, such as Google. Think about the keywords and phrases your prospects may use when searching for you and your firm, and incorporate those into the headline, summary and work experience sections. 

 

Best Practices for Completing Your Profile

Your profile page comprises multiple sections, and LinkedIn gives you a significant degree of flexibility in choosing which sections you can include. Listed below are several of the most important sections, along with tips for how you can maximize the value of this content:

  • Profile picture: It is very important to have a professional, current profile picture. Make sure you are smiling, yet exuding confidence, and wearing clothing that reflects what you wear when you meet with clients. Use a simple backdrop for the photo and have the picture zoomed in on your face.
  • Background photo: Your profile will default to a plain, light-blue background photo that goes behind your profile picture. To make your profile stand out from the thousands of other financial advisors who use the default background photo, use a more interesting image that reflects something about you or your firm. For example, if you are a Denver-based advisor, you might want to have a picture of the city’s skyline or the Rocky Mountains. Or, if you specialize in working with professionals in a specific industry, you might want to have a photo that evokes that field. You can customize it further by having your design team add your company’s logo to the background photo.
  • Headline: Your headline automatically defaults to your job title, but you can use it to tell a more interesting story about your role. If you are allowed to do so by compliance, customize the headline to make it more descriptive of 1) what niches you serve and/or 2) the type of advice you specialize in. This is an important opportunity to work in keywords. Keep in mind that you are limited to 120 characters for your headline. For example, an effective headline might be something along the lines of “Financial Advisor (or Wealth Manager) Helping Chicago-Based Entrepreneurs Prepare for Retirement and Succession Planning.”
  • Summary: This is your opportunity to paint a picture of 1) who you are, 2) how you can help clients with their financial goals and 3) why you are uniquely qualified to provide this financial advice. Avoid using industry jargon; instead use words and phrases that align with how your clients think. You have up to 2,000 characters here, so this is your opportunity to provide some details about what makes you, your team, your firm and your approach unique. Use shorter paragraphs and bullet points to make it easier for the reader to digest. This is another great place to incorporate keywords.
  • Media: You can upload videos, white papers, articles and other types of content to your LinkedIn profile. This can be an effective way to showcase the depth of your expertise. Before you post anything, though, make sure the content has been approved by compliance for distribution on social media.
  • Experience: Use this section to help prospects understand how your previous roles helped prepare you to be a financial advisor. Include a short sentence or series of phrases for each job, describing what you actually did in that role; your titles alone won’t mean much to people outside of the wealth management industry. For your bullet points, start with a verb and focus on the types of challenges that you helped clients solve. For example, a well-structured bullet would be: “Develop succession planning strategies to help owners of family-owned businesses transfer ownership to the next generation of leadership.” Don’t feel like you need to list every job and every role you have ever had; it is fine to limit your experience to jobs that are relevant to your current role.
  • Education: Include here any associate’s, bachelor’s or graduate degrees, as well as honors you have received. You may also want to include any clubs, sports, fraternities or sororities, or other extracurricular activities you were involved in on campus.
  • Certifications: This is where you can list certifications, such as CFA, CFP, CIMA, etc.
  • Volunteer experience: Although this section is not mandatory, it can be very helpful to list any organizations that you have volunteered for or served on the board of. Not only does this show that you are committed to contributing to the community, it also is a good way to network with other people who are involved in those groups.
  • Interests: Again, this is an optional section, but listing some of your favorite hobbies or activities can be a great way to show your personality and give prospects an opportunity to find common ground. 
  • URL: A random URL (aka Web address) will automatically be generated for your profile page. You can choose to customize this to something that is easier for you to share with prospects. (Ideally, it would be linkedin.com/in/yourname if someone else hasn’t already taken it.)
  • Contact info: Your default LinkedIn email address will automatically be entered here. Adding things like your phone number, website and Twitter handle will make it easier for prospects to contact you.

 

Don’t Set It and Forget It

Creating a high-quality LinkedIn profile is not a one-time event. You should check your profile quarterly to make sure all of the information is up to date, particularly any stats about your firm. If you begin working with any new niches or offering new services, make sure your profile reflects this new positioning. Also, if you have any compliance-approved white papers, articles, videos or other content on your profile, update those periodically, so that your profile looks current.

Your LinkedIn profile is one of your most valuable digital properties. By investing a relatively small amount of time and energy into it, you can create a robust profile that makes it easier for prospects to find you and that tells a compelling story about your expertise and qualifications.
 


 

About the Author

Kirk Kazanjian is head of marketing for Capital Group’s high net worth division. He has more than two decades of industry experience and is the author of more than 20 books on marketing and investment management.


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