With Social Media, Your Personal Side May Win Their Business

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Two weeks ago, I conducted a series of workshops on Social Media (SM) for the financial advisers force of a West Coast-based broker/dealer. Prior to the event, I prepared for my audience a number of very specific definitions of SM. However, I ended up using the following one: “Think about Social Media this way: You walk into a restaurant and spot one of your top clients having lunch with several people you don’t know. You approach your client to say “hi” and you are invited to join the table, and introduced to the group. The ongoing conversation is about personal investing. You immediately realize that some of the individuals at the table could be great prospects. Your next move is crucial: an automated greeting and sales pitch would likely alienate the group. Instead, a warm, personal greeting followed by your engaging in a meaningful conversation that allows the group to talk about you as an individual and your personal interests, will naturally enable you to convey to your audience both your personality and knowledge. This will ultimately prompt the group to want to learn more about your professional capabilities.”

The chief reason why I decided to use the restaurant metaphor is because it seems that a significant number of advisers regard SM platforms as conduits to solely promote their businesses, professional expertise, and capabilities. Some go to the extreme of equating SM to a neon sign pointing to the entrance of their offices. Regrettably, this is not only true, but impossible, as compliance rules prevent advisers from advertising. However, this should not deter advisors from leveraging the power of SM to grow their businesses in full respect of compliance rules.

Social Media, as the name infers, is social in nature. Ergo it should be used to identify common social denominators that associate us to the individuals we want to reach. Platforms like LinkedIn enable users not only to connect, introduce and give/receive recommendations (check your compliance guidelines about recommendations), but also to join and/or start groups to which like minded people participate to gain knowledge, share insights, an talk about a specific hobby, interest, passion.

A significant number of advisers refrain from creating a SM presence because roadblocks to adoption prevent them from participating. Although it is understandable for advisers to be nervous about regulatory concerns, there are ways to viably work in respect of the existing guidelines. An advisor can set up a personal page on Facebook–where no reference is made to his/her profession—with the intent to connect with people who share his/her same interests. Once people in your circles/groups get to know what activities, hobbies, sport you fancy, for them finding out that you are a financial advisor/planner is only a…Google search away. A Facebook page that shows advisors’ involvement with their families, their communities, colleges, passions, philanthropic activities, etc., provides them with the ability to easily and effectively share with clients and prospects the personal side of their lives.

Chad Coe, founder of Deerfield, IL-based Coe Financial Group, is an advisor who leverages SM to talk about his many personal activities, including Special Kids Network, a philanthropic organization he founded. By leveraging LinkedIn and Facebook (on the latter his has more than 2,100 contacts), Chad has built a network of contacts that share his same interests. These individuals get to personally know Chad by participating to the initiatives he organizes, attend events where is a speaker, volunteer with him on specific causes, or just seeks his advice and opinion on many different issues. Because of this interaction, they know Chad and his personality, as well as the fact that he is a financial advisor. This helps raise their level of comfort enough to ask him to manage their money and often spontaneously give referrals and leads to his firm.

When asked what the greatest benefit he derives from using SM to promote only his personal activities, Chad candidly responds: “Conversion time. Giving prospects the ability to connect with me, learn who I am and the activities I’m involved in, helps me build trust and credibility ahead of our first meeting. When we finally get together, the meeting it is all about them, their needs and their goals. Usually, the length of the meeting, and the subsequent closing process, shortens significantly. Why? They have a few personal questions about me, because they already know who Chad is.”

Are you leveraging the power of SM in a similar way to Chad’s? What is your strategy?

Claudio Pannunzio
i-Impact Group Inc.
Greenwich, Conn.

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