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Top tips for creating a great LinkedIn summary

If you are looking to use LinkedIn as a sales and business development tool, rather than somewhere to just post your CV, it is essential that you have an interesting and engaging professional summary at the top of your profile (directly underneath your headline box). Before every LinkedIn workshop I run, I research the attendees by looking at their profiles - the vast majority (probably over 90%) don't have any summary and merely list the individual's experience and education. Whilst these details are a small part of why someone chooses to engage with you, the professional summary is your perfect opportunity to show your value to the reader and explain how and why you can help them. So what are the key elements of an engaging LinkedIn summary for sales professionals? Here are my 6 top tips:

  • Don't 'sell' to the reader - the days of merely pitching to prospects simply doesn't work anymore, so think about what your true 'value' is to your target market. For example, you don't sell pensions, however you do offer clients a tax efficient way to invest for their retirement - this difference may look obvious, but I see so many sales professionals who don't appreciate the distinction from their clients perspective.
  • Write it in the first person. A badly written summary usually begins with something like 'Graham is a highly motivated, focused and enthusiastic individual'. Boring and meaningless! Avoid using these types of generic terms. Writing your summary in the first person also makes it much more personal.¬†
  • Don't jut bullet-point all of your career highlights - nobody cares! Just listing your achievements is fine if you are looking for a new job, but it doesn't work for sales professionals. Bullet points are more likely to be read than blocks of text, but keep it to 3 and explain your value, not just a list of your products and services.
  • You must come across as someone who is genuinely interested in helping people - whilst I'm not a big fan of buzzwords, a word like passionate works if you can evidence it. My point here is that you must be at least mildly enthusiastic about what you do! Either offer some help to the reader or suggest a call to action e.g. feel free to drop me a line or connect with me.
  • Tell the reader who you are looking to engage with - LinkedIn is a community of almost 350 million people so you need to try to qualify the reader and let them know that they are the kind of person you want to engage with. For example, I explain that my clients include private banks and wealth managers (amongst others). If my summary just said 'financial services professionals', this is too vague. Be specific.
  • Make yourself more 3-dimensional by telling the reader about your interests outside of work e.g. hobbies and sports. One word of caution - don't be divisive so steer clear of politics and anything particularly controversial - a client of mine insisted on saying that he enjoyed blood sports and shooting!

 Take a look at my profile and you'll get the idea - I get very positive feedback but any further thoughts are always welcome...

Justify your Fees using Social Media

Following the implementation of the Retail Distribution Review in financial services, I have been having some interesting conversations with bankers and wealth managers over the last few months about how they can use social media to engage with their clients, so I thought I would offer some thoughts here.

Let's take a basic example of a wealth manager who is charging his or her client 1% per annum to manage their investments. Assuming the client is happy with the performance of the portfolio, what additional value is he receiving for his fees? Most, if not all, managers will provide quarterly valuations, market reports and other traditional content, as well as perhaps the obligatory Christmas card. Is that enough to justify that fee? In my view, no.

There is an increasing expectation from clients that their wealth manager will make efforts to inform and educate them on an ongoing basis on digital and social media platforms. According to Cap Gemini and RBC's World Wealth Report 2014 (www.worldwealthreport.com), almost two-thirds (65%) of HNWI's expect to run most or all of their wealth management relationships digitally within 5 years, and more than half would consider leaving a firm if an integrated channel experience is not provided.

Social media is a simple, effective and free way of engaging with your clients online and justifying your fees (something the FCA continues to question firms on). It takes no more than a few seconds to post an article on LinkedIn or Twitter (still the two most popular platforms for UK wealth managers) and these posts will then be seen on the news feed of your LinkedIn connections or Twitter followers - this simple exercise, no more than a few times per week, allows you to have multiple 'touch-points' with your clients and they are more likely to remember you if your name and face are in front of them at regular intervals. A simple example - a contact of mine on LinkedIn frequently posts updates about the housing market in the South West. If I am ever asked to suggest the name of a mortgage broker in the South West, who am I likely to think of?!

Remember, social media is not about selling, so your posts should inform and educate the reader. The mortgage broker above doesn't simply announce the latest mortgage rates, he posts interesting content about the housing market, the wider economy and even some pictures of luxury homes!

There is still a significant amount of unease in the industry about plunging into a social media presence, but those firms who fail to embrace it shouldn't take for granted that their existing clients will always be happy with merely a paper valuation through their post-box every few months...

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