Like it or not, social media sites are here to stay. LinkedIn, BranchOut, Plaxo and others offer venues for insurance professionals to build Internet business cards, brand identity and strategic alliances. Social media sites allow agents to conduct pre-approach research to learn about prospects and their industries. Sales and personal marketing challenges are discussed in open forums. Insurance and risk management expertise can be built and recommendations gleaned to help attract qualified prospects. Social media sites are powerful tools when used wisely.
Use a current photograph. Studio created, color headshots should be your first choice. If you want to reduce expense, have a friend or family member with good camera equipment and better Photoshop skills take your picture.
Remember, this is your Internet business card. You’re branding your Internet identity. Think "professional" with everything you post on your LinkedIn profile. What you write is viewed by the public and there’s no spell-check feature with basic LinkedIn service. Take the time to copy and paste everything that you want to appear on LinkedIn to whatever word processing program you use. Review it for errors, then re-paste the corrected copy back to your LinkedIn profile or anything else you post on LinkedIn. Fairly or not, you are judged by the way you communicate in writing. Communicate clearly, correctly and concisely to maximize credibility.
How big should your connections base be? There are two prevailing schools of thought to consider. One is to build the base of connections slowly and methodically. Carefully qualify to control the quality of whom you accept as a connection. Most LinkedIn users allow those they connect with to view all of their LinkedIn connections. Shouldn’t you at least know whom your connections are and something material about them? This line of reasoning emphasizes the value you provide LinkedIn connection partners because of direct, significant influence with those in your connection base.
The other school of thought is to build as big a base of connections as possible. Some LinkedIn users have thousands and thousands of connections; more connections than can be viewed reasonably. Every one of your LinkedIn connections is notified each time you update your profile, edit summary details, add connections or post information. That adds power to sales and marketing efforts.
Another important research tool LinkedIn offers are groups created by LinkedIn users. Discussions of current issues and problems faced by the businesses to which you are marketing are posted. What a great resource to learn what’s important to your clients. Find out who participates in the discussions. Join groups where your clients and prospects can be found. Follow discussions that interest your buyers, and discover potential leads, build strategic alliances and add connections to grow your base.
In addition to groups where your buyers belong, join insurance industry groups. There are plenty from which to choose. Groups form to discuss insurance coverage and products. For example, workers’ compensation, surety bond and risk management groups are abundant and easily found. There are other types of coverage and product groups to be found as well.