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What LinkedIn skills endorsements mean for Financial Advice professionals (and how to make the most of the exciting new feature)

The launch of skills endorsements is one of the most simple, but exciting developments that LinkedIn has announced in recent times, and continues to cement their position as the foremost business focused social networking site.  It also gives profile pages some long overdue interactivity.

Until now, LinkedIn profiles have been little more than a shop window for an IFA or financial planner's expertise, with testimonials being the only way that contacts can publicly acknowledge that expertise.  Often though, testimonials on a profile page can be long and well, rather tedious, with many people simply scrolling past them unread – somewhat defeating the object of having them on your profile in the first place.

LinkedIn needed something a little shorter and with more focus which could acknowledge specific skills of an individual – but without resorting to the simple Facebook-style ‘Like’ button.  And skill endorsements seem to do just the job.

Here are a few tips on how IFAs and financial advice professionals can make the most of the new feature as a valuable personal branding tool.

Look closely at your skills list

Firstly, on your own LinkedIn profile page, revisit your skills list and remove any that might just be ‘padding’.  Whilst it’s nice to potentially receive endorsements for a wide range of skills, few of us want to be seen as a ‘Jack of all trades’.  

Expertise in specific niches will become increasingly valuable, so don’t include skills which are only there to fuel your ego.  And if you are using LinkedIn to look for a job, you can bet your bottom dollar that potential employers and recruiters will ask you to account for the skills listed on your profile, so edit your skills list ruthlessly.

As and when you receive endorsements for skills, LinkedIn automatically lists them on your profile with those receiving the most endorsements from the top down, so it is better that you are seen to have many endorsements for a few skills rather than watering down the ‘votes’ across multiple skills.  In short, the list with its endorsements needs to very clearly show that you are an expert in specific areas.

When someone visits your profile, at the top of the page LinkedIn displays a limited selection of skills from your list for people to endorse.  The selection displayed is random, so without looking at your full list of skills, some people may ‘accidentally’ choose to endorse you for skills which are near the bottom of your list and miss the skills for which you would prefer to have endorsements.  So again, it’s important that the skills you list really are the ones which you want to be known for most of all.

Set your expertise level

A little-known feature of the Skills section on your LinkedIn profile is that you can set your proficiency level for each skill from Beginner to Expert with Intermediate and Advanced as other options.  You can also show how many years you have had that skill.  Simply visit your Skills section, click on the skill concerned and set proficiency and time accordingly.  Do it now, it might make all the difference to whether you win a new contract or new job.

Endorsing other people and being endorsed raises your profile

The news skills endorsements will also help to promote you and the person endorsing you.  This is because when someone highlights a skill you have, it appears in their activity timeline and on your own – thus your contacts and their contacts potentially get to see the endorsement, so increasing the likelihood of a visit to your profile.

So take some time to visit some of your top contacts’ profile pages and endorse their skills.  This is not only something that they will appreciate, but will make you more visible on LinkedIn.

Interact with skills updates on the LinkedIn home page

When someone adds skills to their profile page, it appears on the LinkedIn home page timeline.  Not only could you endorse those skills, you can also ‘Like’ or Comment on that addition on the home page timeline – again making you more visible and also making the other person feel good.  

On the LinkedIn home page, from time to time you will see that people have been endorsed for their skills; again you could ‘Like’ the endorsement publicly.

Give to get

Like all good networkers, give before you take, so use the skills endorsement feature to show other people that you acknowledge their skills.  We all like to be acknowledged, and you will find that some people reciprocate after you have endorsed one or more of their skills.

Be polite and acknowledge endorsements

And finally a small but important point.  When someone endorses your skills, take a moment to thank them with a brief note – either through the LinkedIn message system or by email.  Alternatively a public way to thank someone for an endorsement is to click the ‘Like’ button under the endorsement when it shows up in your Activity box on your profile page.   They will appreciate your thanks and may well spark a conversation which could lead somewhere useful.


What does it mean for financial advice professionals?

It was only a matter of time when IFAs' and financial advisers’ services would receive the “TripAdvisor treatment” – i.e. that they could be ‘rated’ online by clients.

Some see this as a very unwelcome move, citing that it can’t be possible to rate an overall service with the click of a few stars, whilst others see it as a great way for their service to be acknowledged publicly.  Either way, we should all have seen that it was inevitable.

Whilst LinkedIn endorsements are very different from TripAdvisor comments, the concept is much the same – the Internet is being used in a quick and easy way to highlight and acknowledge service and expertise and to shape your personal brand.  Whilst many IFAs have worked hard over many years here in ‘the real world’ to build a great reputation around their personal brand, they now need to think about building a reputation in ‘the online world’.

But just because you have a great reputation in the real world, it does not necessarily follow that you have a great reputation in the online world.

To build that online reputation, financial advisers need to be using the Internet in ways that are visible and which people can publicly acknowledge through comments, ‘Likes’ and endorsements.  LinkedIn’s new skills endorsements are one such way to do that, and another reason why advisers should, as part of the fact-finding process, seek to find out which clients are using LinkedIn (and other social networking sites) so that they can connect with them online.

Professional credibility is everything in a post RDR world, and this new feature is another useful vehicle for convincing consumers, clients, prospects, professional introducers and other interested parties that you are indeed the real deal.

LinkedIn have done a great job with the news skills endorsements feature.  Use it to both acknowledge your contacts’ skills and also to raise your own profile on the site. 


Philip Calvert

  • How can Providers leverage the new Skills Endorsement feature to engage with IFAs?  Click here
  • Looking for more proven tips on how IFAs can leverage LinkedIn?  Click here

 

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Author: Philip Calvert
Posted: Friday, October 05, 2012 | 10:13:18 AM


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