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What’s New on LinkedIn: August – October 2019

LinkedIn is constantly changing. It can be hard to keep up with the latest features and policy changes, so we’ve made it easy for you to stay up to date by creating a quarterly roundup of what’s new on this professional networking platform.

Over the past few months, LinkedIn has worked to make expanding your network offline easier than ever and has also improved its platform for job hunters and recruiters alike.

Read on for more noteworthy LinkedIn changes that happened from August to October 2019.

 

LinkedIn Events

According to LinkedIn’s research, people are twice as likely to accept connection requests from people they’ve met face-to-face. So, to help you meet other users in-person and take your professional networking to the next level, LinkedIn has introduced a new feature to its site: LinkedIn Events.

With LinkedIn Events, you can now create and join professional events. You can also:

    • Invite your connections
    • Manage your event
    • Converse with other attendees
    • Keep in touch after the event
    • Create private events
    • Use filters to find the right attendees
    • Track attendees and invites
    • Post updates
    • And more!

To create your own event, all you have to do is visit the Community panel on the left side of your news feed and click the +Create button. You can then create a description of your event, assign a date, time, and venue, and invite connections using filters like location, company, industry, and school. 

To keep your attendees updated with the latest news around your event, LinkedIn has also added an algorithm that “automatically provides timely and relevant notifications to attendees to make sure they don’t miss any important updates about your event.” 

If you’re not up to hosting your own professional event, no need to worry! You can find other users’ professional events to attend under your My Network tab.

 

Skills Showcase

LinkedIn has always been a platform where users can showcase their professional experience and skills. Now, users can back up just how great they are and prove their expertise with LinkedIn’s new Skills Showcase

This past quarter, LinkedIn launched LinkedIn Skill Assessment, a new way for users to validate their skills. Users can take assessments for various skills that have been created in partnership with LinkedIn Learning and subject matter experts. To pass, you must be in the 70th percentile or above, and only you will be able to see your results. If you don’t pass, you can keep your score private and try again at a later time. However, if you do pass, you will be awarded with a badge, which you can choose to display on your profile in LinkedIn Recruiter and LinkedIn Jobs. If you’ve passed an assessment for an in-demand skill, LinkedIn will additionally send you job recommendations as soon as they’re posted.

According to LinkedIn, making use of Skills Showcase can even help job seekers find a new position, as the platform has stated that “early results show candidates who complete LinkedIn Skill Assessments are significantly more likely (~30%) to get hired.” 

You can access assessments in the Skill section of your profile. Taking skill assessments will also unlock relevant LinkedIn Learning courses for free for a limited time to help you improve your skills. Assessments are currently available for skills like Adobe Photoshop, Java, Microsoft Excel, C++, and more.

 

Service Provider & Freelancer Search

Over the past few months, LinkedIn has made it easier for freelancers and those in need of a service to find one another on its platform. If you’re looking to hire a freelancer or service provider, you can now filter searches in the LinkedIn search bar by service providers, and LinkedIn will then provide you with a list of providers who have indicated that they are “open for business” and who fit your search criteria. 

You can also get recommendations from your network and the LinkedIn community for service professionals and freelancers by using the “find an expert” button in the share box when making a post. After sharing your post, your audience will then be able to comment directly on the post by tagging people, or they can share their recommendations with you through a private message.

 

LinkedIn Pages

This quarter, LinkedIn introduced new features to Pages to help companies make the most of their employees on the platform. Some of the new Pages features include:

  • Employee Notifications
    • Page Admins can now alert employees about important posts on their company Page. This feature will encourage and make it easier for employees to engage with their company on the platform and to share company content with their network. However, to prevent overuse of the feature, LinkedIn has limited notifications to once every seven days
  • Kudos and Team Moments
    • Page Admins now have a new custom content format called Kudos and Team Moments. This feature was built specifically “to welcome new team members, spotlight outstanding work, and recognize the people behind an organization’s pivotal moments.” Companies who use Kudos and Team moments may be perceived as more human and personable to prospective customers and employees. 
  • Completion Meter
    • To make it easier for admins to maximize the effectiveness of their Page, there is now a new personalized completion meter on Pages. This meter identifies incomplete or missing fields and alerts admins to new features to encourage them to make their Pages as complete as possible.

 

LinkedIn Advertising

As usual, LinkedIn has continued to upgrade its targeting tools for advertisers. Over the past few months, LinkedIn introduced new features that are meant to “help marketers who are looking for more powerful reach and insights for their LinkedIn campaigns.”

Among some of the changes made is the improved campaign forecasting panel in Campaign Manager. Now you can see your target audiences’ make-up right from your dashboard. You can also customize the panel to “surface specific professional characteristics” for your audience, like top industries, years of experience, or company sizes. 

LinkedIn has also reported that the updated forecasting panel works with Matched Audiences to “not only [serve] ads to the specific prospects you’re trying to reach, but that you’ll have the demographic insights to deliver the content and creative mix that will resonate with them.” 

Another new feature for advertisers is boolean targeting. LinkedIn stated that using “And/Or” targeting allows advertisers to reach the right audience “through more sophisticated combinations of profile facets like job function, seniority, and titles” within a single campaign. Boolean targeting also provides advertisers with greater flexibility to determine who sees their ads. 

LinkedIn’s demographic reporting has also been improved and now allows advertisers to “understand which audiences are watching [their] video ads, filling out [their] Lead Gen Forms, and opening [their] Sponsored InMail messages.” This data gives advertisers a better understanding of the performance of their campaigns so they can make strategic adjustments to get better results from their ideal audiences.

 

That’s it for now! We’ll be back next quarter with more LinkedIn updates. In the meantime, you can find our full LinkedIn changes report for August through October 2019 on AdvisorU.

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3 Stages To Creating New Offerings That Your Clients Will Value

In every industry, decision-makers are constantly challenged to improve their offerings, to find new products to better meet client expectations and needs, and, just overall, to continue improving. 

But you cannot make changes without a reason or a plan, just for the sake of offering something new or refreshing your product. Most likely, if you decide to change without a structure or goal in mind, this will drive your team crazy and confuse your clients and prospects. 

Change has to provide real value for your clients.

Stage one of the change-making process is to find out what your clients really value. To accomplish this, you have to do a few things that you might find intimidating as a business owner: 

 

  • Read everything about what you do: This comes without saying, but you should know (or want to know) everything about the services you provide. This includes reading books and guides from reputable sources but also using social media. Join industry groups on social media and read comments from professionals who serve the same niche as you. Join the conversation and you’re bound to find valuable insight and different points of view that can help you keep things in perspective.

 

  • Ask your team: Empower your team to feel comfortable with providing you feedback. Challenge them to ask themselves: what is working, what seems to go smoothly, and what could use some improvement. You have to train your team to pay attention to these areas by having regular meetings that offer opportunities for open conversations. Your team is a valuable resource when trying to evaluate your services and offerings. Plus, they will have an idea of what your clients need or seem happy with.

 

  • Do market research: When is the last time you took an in-depth look at your competition? What are other industries doing for clients like yours? Make a list of websites to visit and explore your competitions’ services and products: What features do they offer? How are they making clients’ lives easier? What do they do to offer extra value? Use these guiding questions to consider whether another company is offering something that your clients would love.

 

  • Ask your clients what they want! This is the one tactic that seems to scare all business owners, but it’s the one that will make you more successful. Listen to what your clients are saying. Understand their needs and anticipate a solution for their most pressing challenges.  

 

Now, that was just stage one of this process. 

Once you have done your research, considered the input of key players, and thought about what your new offering can be, it’s time for stage two: Put your ideas to work.

I like to start by picturing how the end result looks and then create systems from there. Reverse engineer your process. This will require you to have some knowledge of how your processes and your team works. 

You need to consider three fundamental questions to ensure your offering will be of great value to your clients and will remain an effective and profitable process for your company. 

 

    1. How much time will it take your team to change what they do in order to execute this new product/service?
    2. How do you want your clients to feel once they’ve experienced the service/product?  
    3. What are the steps to creating the system/service and who do you need to involve?

 

Finally, part three is where you will separate yourself from every other business out there. 

Training. 

There is not much value in creating a service or new offering that you believe works splendidly and can make your client’s life easier if you do not provide adequate training on it to both your team and clients.

Training is also not a one-and-done act. One of the most important parts of staying relevant in business is to always find ways to improve what you have created. You have to train, get feedback, evaluate, make adjustments, and then train your team some more. 

So many advisors and business owners will come up with a new idea, communicate expectations, miss some items on stage one, skip all of stage two, and do just enough of stage three. That is why a lot of brilliant ideas remain ideas instead of turning into profitable, actionable ways to advance a business.

You, as the innovator, need to be involved in every stage described here to truly provide constant, ongoing improvements for your clients and market.

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4 Ways to Boost Your Online Marketing Strategy

For years, advisors have been able to grow their businesses by using referrals and seminars. In our podcast, we often talk about why those strategies have been successful for advisors so far. 

While those two ways of prospecting show decent results for advisors, having a good digital communication strategy in place is proving more and more important today than anything else when it comes to prospecting. 

Here is why:

  • The boomer generation has become social media savvy. Having a social media presence is not a luxury for your company anymore, it is a necessity. Boomers will Google and search online for your social media profiles if they are referred to you by a friend. 
  • Generation X and Y do not have time for seminars but really need your help, and, let’s face it, if you want your business to be there for the long run, you need to start focusing on prospecting these generations as well.

 

How can you make sure that you have a good digital strategy in place? 

 

Follow my 4 recommendations:

 

You need to have a great website

Let’s start with the content. Don’t put everything on your site. You want your website to give people enough information for them to be interested in working with you, but you have to add a level of intrigue that will MAKE them ask you more. 

Keep your website design simple and offer your audience clear directions (i.e. calls to action) of what they should do while they’re on your site. 

Do you want your users to:  

 

    • Log in to their account?
    • Watch a video?
    • Schedule time on your calendar?
    • Sign up for your newsletter?
    • Download a paper?

 

Remember to make sure your website is responsive. Your audience should find your website to be user-friendly and high-quality whether they access it on their laptop, phone, or tablet. After all, over 51% of all website views are done on a mobile device. 

You have to be on social media  

This is now a crucial part of your client communication efforts. Everyone is on social media, and there is a massive pool of possible clients waiting to hear more about you and the help you can offer them.

Most advisors refrain from exploring social media tactics because of the time commitment. But if you don’t have time to maintain a personal or company social media account, you can get professional help with running your accounts. 

In addition to overseeing your accounts and helping you create content, a social media person will help you look polished across all of your social media platforms. Because even if you have no shortage of content it is not as easy as just clicking a button and sharing across platforms. 

 

    • Twitter has different requirements than other platforms, such as a character limit
    • LinkedIn and Facebook require different sized images, so you would have to create two different versions of your graphics
    • The tone you use on one social media platform is not the same one you would use on another 

 

Do consider that social media is not a “set it and forget it” tactic. Don’t hire someone expecting them to handle and create everything that is being published on your behalf. To be unique, you have to share your unique expertise. Add your personal touch to your messages and interact with your audience. 

There are also compliance regulations you need to follow in social media, so whoever you hire should help you stand out from competitors while making sure you stay compliant.

Prioritize content over ads

Don’t place too much weight on strategies like advertising on Facebook. While that can be useful for some, the truth is that, as a small firm or independent advisor, you will not be able to outspend the huge financial services firms. For one, you would have to let an ad run for what can seem like a very long time before seeing any results. 

Instead, create interesting posts that offer valuable and engaging content and boost those posts. That’s not the same as advertising. Producing authentic content is a better idea than to spend time, money and effort in less than effective fill-in-the-blank advertisements. 

Create content that you enjoy and can maintain

If you are a person who doesn’t enjoy writing, it wouldn’t be a good idea to start a blog or base your entire content-strategy focus on blogging.

Most advisors I know talk for a living. And they are good at it. You should use that skill to create content. Of course, if you know who we are and what we do, you know we think you should have your own podcast

Podcasting adds an extra layer of service and value for your clients because it allows them to access your knowledge 24/7. Your podcast also gives prospects a preview of what it will be like to work with you.

On top of that, you can use the content from your podcast to create blogs, social media posts, and videos. This is the kind of strategy that you could maintain and do consistently. If you record one or two podcast episodes a month, think about how many quotes and audio clips you could share on social media.

It’s time for advisors to look at their online presence and consider it is the cost of doing business. These strategies do not always equal obvious and instant lead generation.

Digital strategies are a long play that call advisors to look at ROI differently. And they’re worth every bit of time it takes because, at the end of the day, you’re building your influence, reputation, and making yourself more referable and more available to the people who need your expertise.