At TheDigitalFA our year is off to a roaring start with Leveraging LinkedIn Training Sessions and Kick-Off meetings predominating our calendar. During these sessions questions regarding LinkedIn features such as broadcast alerts and selecting what others can see when you’ve viewed their profile always come up.
So, in honor of Data Privacy Day, held annually on January 28, let’s spend some time discussing LinkedIn’s Privacy Settings and my views on how Financial Advisors might consider leveraging these key elements of LinkedIn. Please note, I don’t work for LinkedIn but I do know that they take your safety and privacy very seriously, and protect your account using a series of automatic checks that are designed to thwart unauthorized sign-in attempts and keep your data safe.
That said, where do you find the Privacy Settings on your LinkedIn account? Your LinkedIn homepage is the page you reach when you first sign in to your LinkedIn account. A navigation bar at the top allows you to see main areas and features available on LinkedIn. You can manage your account settings by moving your cursor over your profile picture in the top right and selecting Privacy and Settings from the dropdown.
You can also type https://www.linkedin.com/settings to get there.
Settings is where “they make the sausage”. No need to watch them make it, but it is important that you know how to navigate this page in order to maximize your LinkedIn experience and results.
Here is what the actual Settings section looks like:
There are actually a lot more Privacy Settings but for our purposes we will concentrate on these four:
- Turn on/off your activity broadcasts: If you don’t want your connections to see when you make changes to your profile, follow companies, or recommend connections, uncheck this option. To do so click on the “link” and it will open up the following command box:
My recommendation is you think this one through before you turn off this feature. Why? One of the main features of LinkedIn is being able to notify your connections of a title change, additional skill (i.e. a new credential, degree, etc.), interest, group, company and so on. Who knows, the skill you just added may be the one that causes someone to contact you to discuss his or her portfolio, 401(k) rollover or other financial need.
I have worked with FA’s who have landed significant business by joining their churches LinkedIn group – result: opened a $1.5 million account. Another FA followed a company that was “right sizing” their workforce – result: 200 new rollover accounts in 90 days. Recently one of the FA’s I work with added “Financial Advisor” to his Profile which at last count resulted in 139 people congratulating him. Common thread, they announced to their connections that they just joined the church group, just followed a particular company and had a job title change.
As most Financial Advisors have to submit any LinkedIn Profile change to their Compliance Department for review and approval, my suggestion is create a series of changes spread out over a period of time so the announcement(s) become strategic in nature and create impact, versus the one wholesale spam announcement this feature is intended to prevent.
As I wrote in a column titled “Supercharge your LinkedIn profile” for Delaware Investments in September 2013, LinkedIn allows you to make your Profile information available for search engines to index. To do this, select “Full View” in your Profile Settings.
Many FA’s believe there is some benefit in keeping their Profile information hidden. Remember your goal is to be found, to engage, and to network. Hiding your LinkedIn Profile may send the message to potential clients and valuable referral sources that you’re not fully invested in connecting and networking. Furthermore, you are limiting your ability to move up to page one in Google PageRank.
Because LinkedIn Profiles receive a fairly high PageRank in Google, making your profile public can be a great way to influence what people see when they search for you online.
- Select what others see when you’ve viewed their profile: When you view other profiles on LinkedIn, those people can see your name, photo, and headline. If you want a higher level of privacy, you can choose to display anonymous profile information, or show up as an anonymous LinkedIn member. To do so click on the “link” and it will open up the following command box:
My recommendation is you stay “fully transparent” 95% of the time. Why? LinkedIn is designed to encourage connecting for the purpose of networking. If your settings make your Profile partially anonymous or totally anonymous potential customers or referral sources have no idea who you are and therefore you are making it impossible for them to become a customer or make referrals.
The 5% of the time you’re “totally anonymous” should be reserved for those times you are gathering information on a prospect that you may not want them to know at this time you are on their LinkedIn Profile.
After presenting to just over 5,000 Financial Advisors in the past two years one thing is consistent, Financial Advisors all think they are the only ones that prospect. Don’t believe it for a moment. At last count LinkedIn had just over 250 million users and adding 2 per second. What do they have in common? They’re all predators! There on LinkedIn to prospect, connect and network as opposed to other sites that feature beer cans and beach blankets.
- Select who can see your connections: You can share your connections’ names with your other first-degree connections, or you can make your connections list visible only to you. To do so click on the “link” and it will open up the following command box:
My recommendation is you keep this setting right here, “Your connections”. By clicking the drop down you will be offered the choice, “only you”. If you are the only one that can see your connections then what you’re telling me is you don’t want to connect or network. Why be on LinkedIn then?
Financial Advisors have expressed their concern that their competition can now see their customers. First off, you have to be connected to your competition in order for them to see your customers. Stop reading this and immediately go to your “Contacts” and remove as connections any FA you’re connected to.
Secondly, how do they know they’re your customer? The way LinkedIn is set up I can view 10 of your connections at a time. If I’m on page 5, or 50 connections into your list of connections, and decide I would like to view the Profile of one of your connections I can do so. Problem is, once I do that I will have to start over from page one of your connections to continue my research – not very efficient!
If you really believe someone can determine whether a connection is one of your clients then take advantage of the LinkedIn Influencers section and add a dozen or so of them to your connections list. Leave the competition guessing whether Bill Gates or Warren Buffet is one of your connections.
- Change your profile photo and visibility: You can choose to have your photo displayed to only your first-degree connections, your network, or everyone who views your profile. To do so click on the “link” and it will open up the following command box:
My recommendation is you make your photo available to “Everyone”. As I wrote in an August 2013 TheDigitalFA Blog “My LinkedIn Profile’s Not Complete- So What?”: According to LinkedIn “only 50.5% of people on LinkedIn have a 100% completed LinkedIn profile.” Those with a 100% complete profile are 40 times more likely to benefit from search and connection opportunities if LinkedIn is too be believed. A completed profile includes having a professional photo in your LinkedIn Profile.
At one client event I was scrolling through several LinkedIn Profiles when a person in the audience asked me to stop because they thought they recognized one of the Profile’s as that of a friend who is a Financial Advisor. As directed I stopped and we began to review their Profile. In unison 15 people in the audience shouted out: “I won’t do business with that person”. I asked why, and the response was because they didn’t have a photo. If I don’t know what the person looks like I wouldn’t even consider them as someone to manage my portfolio, is what they said. Enough said!
Many of you have asked and LinkedIn is working on a new setting that will allow you to block another member from viewing your profile and will prevent any unwanted contact. They have already begun testing this setting.
Hopefully this helps as you continue to fine-tune your LinkedIn Profile. I would welcome your comments on how you would treat some of these Settings issues and, of course, welcome your input on what LinkedIn features you would like me to discuss in the future.