Start with these five simple steps.
1. Read and follow your organization’s policy on social networking
I am not an attorney, nor do I play one on TV.* So, I am not comfortable advising you on compliance-related specifics. What I do know is that many organizations have a social media policy. And it is critical that you comply with that policy. You may also wish to take a moment to review FINRA’s guidelines on social media.. (* Thanks to Mark Davis, CAPTRUST Financial Advisors for that quote. I use it all the time.)
- Pay attention to your profile
Start by making sure you only have one profile per platform. (Some people have half-finished profiles they started months or years before.) Then begin searching for people in your existing network. Review their profiles. You’ll find some great ideas about how others create their online profile. Consider what do you think makes sense for your online brand? Make sure you have a professional photo posted. And very important: have a colleague or a friend review your profile for readability, grammar and spelling. Be ready to refresh your profile with updates to keep it current.
- Connect with your face-to-face network
Build your networking by connecting with people you already know; link with your centers of influence: colleagues, current clients and community contacts. You may be surprised to find so many people you know are already online. The next time you attend a networking event, take those business cards back to your office and LinkIn with those folks as a way to follow up.
- Listen and learn
When I joined LinkedIn in 2004, I had no idea how to use the platform. I set up my profile and then just waited for invitations. I simply thought it was an online rolodex (which is actually a great use, by the way). Yet, over the past several years, I’ve learned a tremendous amount of online interaction by joining groups. My list includes groups focused on defined contribution, marketing, social networking and more. Consider which groups will keep your curiosity piqued and join them.
5. Experiment a little bit
The next time you are scheduled for an appointment or finalist presentation, spend some time on LinkedIn and do some research on the meeting attendees before you go. You may find that you have connections already in place. Or, you may find an interesting tidbit about the CFO – the school they attended, what books they’re reading, past work history, volunteer activity and more. In some cases, he or she may be researching you and your firm. Guess that makes it even more important to have a presence in the social networking space!