LinkedIn’s mission is to “connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful.” Are you using LinkedIn to effectively market your agency or brokerage?
LinkedIn provides a great opportunity for uncovering business leads and connecting with customers and partners. Learn how you can optimize the networking site by following these LinkedIn tips for agents & brokers.
Designing Your Profile
The first step to using LinkedIn and developing your business contacts is either joining LinkedIn and creating your profile or taking a good look at your existing profile and improving it as necessary. The purpose of your profile is to effectively describe yourself and what you offer. Although social media is not about selling, your profile is the one area where you can “sell” yourself. This is the written version of your elevator pitch—if someone is interacting with you and wants to know more about you and your business, that person is likely to read through your profile to find that information.
To maximize the potential of your LinkedIn presence, start by creating a detailed profile.
- Customize the headline not only to reflect your job title but also to specifically describe what you do.
- Insert a photo of yourself, keeping it simple and professional. You want to choose a photo in which you are professionally dressed and groomed, with a plain background. When you insert the photo, use the cropping feature to ensure that your face takes up the majority of the frame. Do not upload photos taken at a party or that might otherwise appear unprofessional.
- Demonstrate your expertise by listing your awards as well as your work and educational history. Link to articles or blog posts you may have written, and upload presentations, pictures, videos or other pieces of work you would like to showcase as examples of what you can offer.
- Add non-work information to your profile, such as professional groups or affiliations you belong to, that will make it easier for others to find you or learn more about you.
- Ask connections for recommendations and then reciprocate by writing a recommendation or endorsing others. When asking for recommendations, tread cautiously—you don’t want to offend or impose on anyone.
- Manage and edit your endorsements to reflect the skills you want to highlight. If you have been endorsed for irrelevant skills, you can delete those items. You can also scroll through who has endorsed you and delete individual endorsements.
- Proofread. Your LinkedIn profile reflects on your professionalism, and typos and spelling mistakes will detract from the image you are trying to project.
- Continue to keep your profile updated with new job responsibilities or contact information, as well as through regular postings that offer value to your connections.
Prospecting and Connecting with Others
After setting up your profile, you can move on to exploring LinkedIn’s capacity for helping you connect with new and existing prospects and clients. LinkedIn is excellent for prospecting, and there are many ways to find new leads.
First, connect on LinkedIn with current clients, friends and partners. There are several search options for finding people you already know, and you can even import names from email contact lists. After you’re connected with people you already know and work with, sort through their connections. Ask for introductions or contact their connections directly when you find someone you’d like to connect with. When you ask for introductions, remember to be cautious and respectful—you don’t want to lose current clients because you appeared to be rude or overly aggressive.
Another way to find prospects is to use the Advanced Search function. With this tool, you can search by industry, job function, school, geographic location and many other categories. If you’re looking to connect with a specific business, you can also search through your current contacts and check out the right-hand side of your page to view featured information on how you are already connected to that organization; you can then use those connections to gather information or get an introduction.
Joining groups for networking purposes is also a method for finding new connections. You can join groups according to industry, region or niche market, and you can find local community, special interest and professional groups to join. When you join a group, share your expertise and offer helpful content in posts and articles. This way you can build your reputation and get noticed. You can also look through the members of the group to find people you might want to connect with.
In addition to actively prospecting, you can set up your profile to attract interest. If you want to make it easy for others to find you, optimize your profile to show up better in searches. The heading section is a great opportunity to plug in keywords related to what you do to help people find you in related searches. You can also link to your websites in order to improve search engine optimization (SEO); use the “other” category when adding links to enable the option of adding your own keyword descriptions.
Using LinkedIn to Strengthen Networking Relationships
Following up promptly and personally will strengthen your networking efforts and reinforce in-person connections. Here’s how:
- When making contacts on the phone or for in-person networking, you should always follow up as soon as possible by adding your contacts on LinkedIn in order to move the relationship forward. Keep the conversation going and remain fresh in their minds by sending an article that is related to a topic of conversation or relevant to their industry. You want to firm up your personal connection and offer them something of value so they remember you in a positive way.
- If you want to get noticed, a message on LinkedIn may work better than a cold call or email. Contacting someone in a different way may be just what you need for him or her to pay attention and respond.
- You can use LinkedIn to add to the information you have on a prospect before a meeting. Look over prospects’ LinkedIn profiles to learn about them before you meet or call them in order to give you an opportunity to personalize the conversation. Perhaps you are both members of the same group, or maybe you attended the same college. Whatever it is, you can use information from prospects’ profiles to personalize your approach and help establish rapport.
- Acknowledge new connections with a short personal reply; many people don’t, so this personal response will help you stand out and open communication between you and your new connection.
- If you want to efficiently communicate with prospects, organize your connections by using tags (under the Network tab at the top). Tag each of your connections to separate them into groups by industry, or whatever suits your needs; you can then target communication—such as sharing interesting articles or newsletters—more effectively.
A good rule to follow when connecting on LinkedIn is to not make a hard sales pitch too soon. When you initiate a conversation or follow up with someone after connecting on LinkedIn, don’t immediately launch into your sale efforts. Instead, show interest in your new connections, provide value to them (for example, by sending an article related to their particular industry or interests), and only then reach out for a meeting to talk about business. Using LinkedIn is more about building relationships and making new connections than actively making pitches.
The execution of social media networking takes both time and patience. By implementing these LinkedIn Tips for insurance agents and brokers, you will soon reap the rewards of being “linked in.” Visit www.linkedin.com to get started and make sure to follow Coterie!