Financial Advisors: Level Up Your LinkedIn Profile

Like so many millennials in the early ’90s, I grew up playing the classic video game Super Mario Bros. Throughout the gameplay, there were hidden ways to “level-up” your character: stars for super-speed, hidden bonus rounds and extra lives. The more secrets you discovered, the better you did on each level.

I still get joy out of finding ways to “level up.” As a social media manager, I focus daily on better using social platforms to meet our clients’ needs. Given the ever-changing nature of social media, there are always new, lesser-known tactics to discover—tactics that make the experience that much better for our clients.

My colleague, Maria Huggins, recently covered how to get started on social media as part of our on-going “Social Media for Advisors” series. Today, we’ll focus solely on leveling up your digital business card: LinkedIn.

Ground Rules: The following are best practices I’ve picked up specializing in social media communications; they may not all apply to your specific situation. Before implementing anything, be sure to understand and comply with the social media policies your company and regulators have put into place.

Get in the Game: Have a Presence, Nail Down the Basics

Your LinkedIn profile is your online business card. If clients Google you, an optimized LinkedIn page should be one of the first pages to pop up in the search results. Here’s how you can make it stand out:

Name

This should be your preferred name—how you introduce yourself.

Level up: If you have earned credentials such as CFA, MBA, etc. feel free to show them off, just don’t include them in the last name field on LinkedIn. The search function on the platform is very literal. If you add credentials to your last name, it may keep you from showing up properly in LinkedIn search results. Instead, put any credentials in your profile headline.

Headline

The default headline pulls in your most recent job title. Make sure the experience section of your profile is up-to-date so that it pulls in the correct title.

Level up: Use this space to also (concisely) explain how you help clients. Think about the keywords people will use to find you—for example, “advisor”—and make sure they’re incorporated into this field. Space is limited, so keep it short.

Photo

It’s essential to have an updated, publicly-viewable, professional photo as your headshot. A blank photo field conveys a sense of abandonment, while an informal photo will make you look unprofessional. A private photo looks like a blank photo, so make sure the image is set to “visible” for non-connections. The photo should be 400 pixels wide by 400 pixels tall, be of high quality, and feature just you—no friends, spouses or pets.

Level up: Use your company headshot, if available. Then you’ll have a consistent, professional look across all your client communications.

Contact Information

Once they’ve found you, make it easy for clients to contact you. In some cases, your LinkedIn profile may be the only way prospective clients know how to reach you. Periodically review your account to make sure all the contact information you provide is up-to-date, including your account’s primary email address.

Level up: LinkedIn provides more visibility to profiles that have this section filled out. The more you provide, the more you will show up in searches.

Summary Description

Many companies provide boilerplate messaging for this space below your name and headline. If that’s not the case for you, it’s a great place to go into a little more detail about who you are and what you can do for clients. LinkedIn is a social media site, not just your resume, so you can be a little less formal—i.e., writing in first person instead of third person.

Level up: Keep in mind, only the first 100 characters (or fewer) of your description will show up on mobile devices. Make them count by catching your reader’s attention in the first sentence.

Experience

This section includes all your relevant work experience, where you went to school and any licenses you have. Emphasis on relevant work experience: if you’ve been in the industry for over five years, you can probably get away with not listing that restaurant job you had in college. But don’t just list your daily duties. Instead, position each description to focus on how you’ve helped clients in the past, and the methods you’ve used to serve them.

Level up: Add personal interests to your profile. Are you a scout leader or little league coach? Do you volunteer in your spare time? List those things on your profile under “volunteering" or "interests.” This adds a personal touch to your profile and can be a great conversation starter.

Background Photo

This is a recent addition to the LinkedIn profile. As such, there aren’t many people who’ve changed the default photo. Adding your own photo is a really easy way to make your profile stand out and is an automatic level up. Just make sure you own the rights or have permission to use the photo (don’t pull it off Google). Also make sure the photo looks good on a mobile device. For example, if you are using a photo of people, make sure their heads aren’t cropped out awkwardly on a smaller screen.

Bonus Round: Claim Your URL

LinkedIn automatically assigns a URL to your profile when you register to use the platform. However, not many people know that they can personalize that URL. If you edit it to something closely matching your full name, it will help you show up more in both LinkedIn and Google searches.

Lisa Vachalek
Lisa Vachalek

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    The opinions expressed are those of American Century Investments (or the portfolio manager) and are no guarantee of the future performance of any American Century Investments' portfolio. This material has been prepared for educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide, and should not be relied upon for, investment, accounting, legal or tax advice.