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Prospecting in the New Virtual World

May 2020 
by Bill McManus

How accurate is the phrase “social distancing”? While we are physically distancing, we may be able to make the argument that we are connecting socially with more people than ever before.

Connecting with others virtually may be an idea we are still adapting to, leaving financial advisors to wonder how they can prospect without face-to-face meetings. The good news is, one of the most effective tools for gaining new clients has always been something you have right at home – LinkedIn.

We’ve done a great deal of research with the Oechsli Institute on how to incorporate LinkedIn as part of a financial advisor’s marketing strategy, and they have been running concurrent surveys interviewing top advisors and affluent clients to see what information they’re looking for from advisors. Our research shows that you can effectively search for new clients in three ways:


1. Branding and posting

Know that first impressions also apply in the digital world. Make sure to put your best face forward, and be strategic in choosing your profile picture. Choose a professional photo, not a selfie, as LinkedIn is a professional platform. Next move to your summary. Make sure to present yourself how you want to be perceived. Draft your professional story (why you do what it is you do, how you’re helping clients, etc.), and don’t be afraid to be personal in this section. You are searching for clients to build a relationship with, so give them the opportunity to learn about you and find something they may have in common with you.

Chances are that you will read your profile over and over, but it is always helpful to get a second opinion. Show your page to a trusted colleague or friend and ask for them to proof your work and offer suggestions. Once your profile is live and you become an active user, be cautious on how you post and share content. Use your platform to educate viewers and post content that is relevant to the people you are targeting, but be aware that there can be a negative reaction to over-posting. Treat this as a part of your job responsibilities and plan ahead to share helpful material and avoid oversharing.


2. Prospecting

LinkedIn is the largest professional social network, so there are lots of prospects, but it is necessary to focus on how to find the right ones. Search for key terms, such as former executive, former director, business owner, executive, and even recently retired (people who aren’t working by choice and who could use a financial advisor’s help). Expand your Centers of Influence searches outside of your traditional network, navigating to longevity resources like Certified Aging in Place Specialists and memory care unit workers, so you can connect them to your clients.

The Oechsli Institute says that one of the most practical ways to bring in new customers is by using the Advocate Search on LinkedIn - a feature used to meet your clients’ connections, then asking your client for introductions to those connections. Some options to narrow down a list from your Advocate Search is the rule of “–Ates”: congregate, recreate, educate, and donate. Use this rule
to search for people who know your top client, and have something in common with you too. For example, if your client went to the same college as you, now you have a new list of people that you can easily connect with, and a person to reference when starting a conversation. However, don’t go too narrow with your search in order to leave opportunities open. Have a plan, keep track of your searches, and focus in on one area that will be most beneficial for you.


3. Creating a game plan

Set goals for yourself and create an actionable list to measure off of. Schedule time into each day to check in and make sure you’ve responded to all messages. Then on days where you have a little more time, dedicate that time to engage in new conversations. Once every few days, conduct new searches or reach out to people who have recently viewed your profile. Being an active user will keep your connections strong.


Use this time to your advantage and embrace the benefits of socializing in the virtual world. Spending more time on LinkedIn, and learning to use it in the right way, can lead you to making more connections and building new relationships that you probably wouldn’t have the opportunity to otherwise.

Prior to using LinkedIn or implementing any of the strategies referenced in this article, please consult with your firm’s legal and compliance teams about social media policies and required participation in social media programs.

The Oechsli Institute is not an affiliate or subsidiary of Hartford Funds.

Bill McManus
Managing Director, Applied Insights

Bill is part of the Applied Insights Team for Hartford Funds. In his current position, Bill is responsible for engaging and educating both financial advisors and their clients about current and emerging opportunities in the financial-services marketplace. These opportunities range from tactical strategies in areas such as retirement-income planning, investment planning, and charitable planning, to anticipating and preparing for long-term demographic and lifestyle changes.

Bill joined the organization in 2003 as an advisor consultant responsible for marketing Hartford Funds in Virginia and West Virginia. Bill earned his Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA®) designation, is FINRA Series 7 and 63 registered, and holds his life and variable insurance licenses.

Bill has been widely quoted in consumer and trade publications such as US News and World Report and Wealth Management.com. He has also appeared as a featured guest on Bloomberg Radio to discuss his views on retirement-related topics.

Originally from Smithville, New Jersey, Bill attended the University of Pennsylvania where he earned a bachelor’s degree in political science. He currently lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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Bill McManus is a registered representative of Hartford Funds Distributors, LLC.

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