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Using LinkedIn to Generate Referrals

Identify prospects with this helpful social media tool.

By Bill Cates

Many advisors are using LinkedIn to identify prospects on from their clients’ profiles. Within LinkedIn, you can also see who has been looking at your profile. These may be people who are interested in your services. Have you found the right words to have a comfortable conversation with these folks without sounding sales-y? Using LinkedIn is a viable strategy, but you need to proceed with caution.

Identifying Referral Prospects
While you can surely look at your clients’ profile to determine suggested places to explore for introductions, you may need to be a little careful. Use of this strategy will depend on how long you’ve known your client and/or the nature of the relationship.

Telling new or private-natured clients that you have looked at their LinkedIn site and that you’re hoping for introductions to some of their connections could be taken as intrusive. With clients you’ve known for a long time or who really like you and are "open" personalities, it’s a more realistic strategy.

When bringing it up in your referral brainstorming conversation you might say, "George, we’re just brainstorming here. No pressure. I was curious about your LinkedIn site and noticed you were connected to some very successful business people in town. I wrote down a few names to see if you might be willing to put a good word to them for me."

Or, y ou might say, "George, I noticed you’re a member of the Yale Alumni Association. Are you an active member? Are there a few members you think should know about the work I do?"

Using this strategy is very relationship specific. You need a pretty strong relationship to make this natural, effective and non-intrustive.

People Who Have Viewed Your Profile
I don’t see any problem in contacting someone who has viewed your profile. The key is to be soft and lead with value. Here is a possible message you might send through LinkedIn messaging. Make it fit you and your type of business, of course.

"George, I noticed that you viewed my profile yesterday and just wanted to reach out and see if I can be of any service to you. I have a free report entitled The Seven Biggest Mistakes People Make in Planning for Retirement and What to Do About Them. I’d be happy to send that to you with no obligation. Would you like the report?"

Then, about a week after you send the report, you can send this message: "Hi, George. Just following up to make sure you received the report and what you thought about it. I’d like to present myself as a possible resource for you. Would you be open to setting up a brief phone call to get the conversation started?"

If you haven’t written any kind of free report to send to prospects or current clients, see what your company or broker dealer has that you can use for now, then write your own report and get it approved for distribution. This is a very powerful tool to use in prospecting. And it’s always more effective when you are the author.

With LinkedIn, you can also join various types of groups and use compliance-approved ideas as a way to provide value to those groups.

Take the slow road and lead with value. Be a valuable resource first.

Bill Cates is president of Referral Coach International. To learn about his free newsletter, boot camps, coaching program and video-training program go to www.referralcoach.com. Cates can be reached at info@referralcoach.com or 301-497-2200.


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