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An introduction to LinkedIn

You will no doubt have heard of LinkedIn - you may even be a member - but what actually is it and what can it do for you? In this article, Adviser-Hub explores what it is that sets LinkedIn apart from other social networking sites and highlights ways in which it could be beneficial for your business

LinkedIn is a social networking website that allows professionals to swap contacts, promote businesses and explore potential client opportunities. Since it was founded in 2003, the site has experienced impressive growth to the extent it now boasts more than 200 million users spread across more than 200 countries. Even so, it is still managing to attract new members at a rate of two every second.

Your LinkedIn profile may be seen as your interactive business card - one that, at the click of a button, may be changed and enhanced with the addition of new experiences, skills, qualifications and links. Through differing degrees of 'connections', members may be introduced by mutual associates to prospective clients and employers. At the same time, job seekers can search for new opportunities and employers find prospective candidates. Not for nothing has LinkedIn been summed up as "Facebook in a suit".

"Social media is only going to increase in both its popularity and effectiveness, which means those businesses that continue to ignore it risk damaging their own interests."

So what can LinkedIn do for you? For an industry that relies heavily on networking of one kind or another and with the majority of affluent investors now active on social media, it only makes sense for advisers to turn to LinkedIn in the hunt for potential clients. Fears - often unfounded - relating to compliance, security and regulatory requirements could be holding advisers back from a powerful tool that has the potential to promote their business and not only to attract new clients but also reaffirm relationships with existing ones.

A particularly useful feature - and one that is becoming increasingly popular - is LinkedIn 'Groups’. This is an effective means of spreading your online influence, sharing and discussing knowledge, ideas and trends and engaging with others. Between them, for example, the UK IFA,Institute of Financial Planning and indeed the rebranded Adviser-Hub groups boast more than 8,000 active members. Regularly updated with new articles and posts, these can prove to be an invaluable space for thought leadership and opinion sharing and represent an extremely effective way of engaging with your peers.

Social media is only going to increase in both its popularity and effectiveness, which means those businesses that continue to ignore it risk damaging their own interests. Analysing Financial advisers' use of social media in the US, a 2012 report jointly written by LinkedIn and FTI Consulting found "more than three in five financial advisers who have leveraged LinkedIn to cultivate client prospects in the past year have successfully gained new clients as a result.

The report also noted that those advisers who are gaining clients on LinkedIn are bringing in "big business", continuing: "Nearly a third have gained $1m or more in assets under management, while 12% have gained $5m or more." Clearly it is time for advisers in the UK to follow suit and embrace the LinkedIn community. The key here is to engage - taking time to create your profile, joining the groups that interest you and interacting with and learning from others users should enable you and your business to reap tangible rewards.



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