Insurance agents have different views on the usefulness of LinkedIn. Some view it as a total waste of time, while others race to build the highest number of connections. LinkedIn can be an effective tool for networking and staying in touch with your connections -- if you know how to use it correctly. Here, then, are five tips to build the right kind of connections on LinkedIn.
For more about LinkedIn, check out "Are You LinkedIn? Making the Professional Social Networking Site Work for You."
1. Optimize your profile
What's the first thing you do when you receive a request to connect through LinkedIn? You go look at the person's profile. Your profile delivers that important first impression. Treat your LinkedIn profile like you would an executive bio. Don't skimp on listing past companies or education. Include your credentials, groups, and associations.
Another tip from Kristina Jaramillo, a consultant specializing in LinkedIn, is to think keywords. Jaramillo explained that people conduct searches on LinkedIn the same way they search Google. A complete profile using your insurance keywords moves you up in the search results. For a fee, you can upgrade to customize a company profile.
2. Participate in groups
Groups provide you with a platform for showcasing your expertise. The feature allows individuals to create a group and invite others to join. Do not use this feature for sales pitches; groups are for networking and making connections. Save the sales pitch for an appropriate time.
Michael Bina, a thought leader on insurance and employee benefits, has more than 500 connections; he offered the following suggestions for getting the right connections.
- Start by creating your own business or interest group.
- For agencies, have other associates start a related group.
Insurance-related groups keep you current on the latest issues and competition -- but don't limit yourself to your peer groups. Go where your customers are. For example, if you sell group insurance products, join groups with human resources professionals.
3. Answer questions
Whether it's questions presented in one of your groups or those found under the answers tab, your responses help build your credibility and visibility. Use the keyword search for open questions on your subject or area of expertise.
4. Maintain a company blog
If Bina could do it over again, he said, he would make sure he had a blog already established. Let other experts contribute to the blog content, and include articles you have written on your blog. Then, add the blog and article links to your profile. Both provide marketing opportunities and increase your visibility to potential clients.
5. Personalize your connection requests
When you send a request to connect with someone on LinkedIn, personalize it. Jaramillo recommended explaining why the person should link up with you. It should answer the question, "What's in it for me?" Be selective in your requests.
LinkedIn highlights your expertise and increases your visibility. It can be an effective tool for finding your next business prospect or referral -- do you know how to use it well?
|Advance to Day 7 of the Social Media Boot Camp|
|Using Twitter to Grow Your Business|
|Catch up with past boot camp tutorials|
|Why Social Media for Insurance Agents -- and Why Now?|
|Getting Started with LinkedIn|
|Getting Started with Twitter|
|Getting Started with Facebook|
|Choosing the Right Social Media Site for You|