Financial advisors traditionally rely heavily on face-to-face meetings and personal relationships to win new clients and retain existing accounts, especially during times of economic uncertainty. Whether through seminars, local events, social gatherings or a combination of the three, being out and visible in the community is often vital to growth and retention.
And for industry-specific networking, conferences and conventions are typically a core piece of how advisors build those valuable connections. However, with escalating concerns around the highly contagious COVID-19 delta variant, the fall 2021 event season will likely be dampened if not outright disrupted in cities across the nation.
The pandemic has left many advisors sidelined from attending in-person events for the past 18 months and counting, and amid increasing public health and economic uncertainty for the remainder of 2021, advisors cannot afford to remain invisible for a consecutive fall. They should immediately implement digital strategies to stay relevant and present in front of key audiences, especially if COVID-19 mask mandates, restrictions and public health risks hinder the networking value of in-person events.
Delta Variant Poses A Significant Threat
Last fall’s event season, where most events were canceled, postponed or made virtual, some advisors tightened up their marketing budgets and decided to wait it out. There was a vaccine within reach, and many of us assumed business and society would trend toward normalcy by Summer 2021. Now, with the delta variant sparking a health crisis of its own, those advisors cannot afford to sit back and skip networking efforts this year.
According to Yale Medicine, the delta variant of COVID-19 is more virulent than before. It is more infectious and can spark breakthrough cases among those fully vaccinated, meaning even a 100% vaccinated guest list is still susceptible to delta variant infection. These concerns are already prompting waves of mask restrictions and other safety precautions. In fact, officials in Los Angeles County, Las Vegas, New Orleans, Savannah and several other local municipalities in both Massachusetts and California have reinstated mask mandates to curb the rise of the delta variant of COVID-19.
We do not yet know how disruptive the virus will ultimately be for the remainder of the year, so pairing digital and tentative in-person networking strategies is likely the best hedge against the risk of business stagnation and irrelevance.
The Importance Of LinkedIn & Social Networking
One of the best ways to stay relevant, in touch, and networking is to get active on LinkedIn. This professional social media is less frivolous than Twitter or Facebook and an excellent place for financial advisors to connect with and engage colleagues, clients, prospects and referral sources. According to a 2019 Putnam Investments survey, nearly 80% of advisors find new clients through social media.
To be successful on LinkedIn, and nearly any other social media platform, add value and personality with the content you post. Your network wants to be educated, entertained and engaged. Sharing canned posts from a content farm – a growing trend among financial advisors – is not the answer. That’s essentially anti-social media. It’s perceived as spammy and lazy, ultimately cheapening your brand.
For real results with a personal touch, share original video content, TV appearances and news commentary. Also, remember to comment, like and engage with others in your network. When you interact with other user posts, you make yourself visible to their networks. Regularly doing so will create opportunities to rapidly expand your network.
Sharing Self-Produced Video & TV Appearances
Throughout the pandemic, video has emerged as an essential way for advisors to remain visible and compensate for reduced in-person interactions with their networks. While professional video productions can be very expensive and time-consuming, the good news is that self-produced videos from a basic camera, laptop or phone are completely acceptable to share on LinkedIn, YouTube and other social networks. You can even quickly edit short videos right on your phone using apps such as iMovie – or delegate that task to any tech-savvy member of your team.
Record a sequence of talks, interviews or a few solo-explainer topics of interest to your network. For an even more personal experience, you can apply for LinkedIn Live, which allows you to interact with your audience as you conduct a live broadcast. Self-producing videos, live-streams, and other digital content is a helpful way to connect with your network. Video also allows advisors to create digital “face-time” that mimics the fondness and familiarity built between you and your clients and colleagues during live events.
Another way to create buzz and boost your credibility is by becoming a television personality. As more non-traditional financial and general news networks emerge, as well as print and online news outlets now producing their own video programming, the demand for TV-ready finance experts is greater than ever. Additionally, because COVID-19 prompted the normalization of interviews conducted via Skype or Zoom (versus in-studio or satellite), appearing on TV is now remarkably convenient. Sharing your broadcast appearances with your network through social media, email lists and your website is a powerful way to stay in front of your network despite a disrupted fall event season.
In this altered networking environment, which will likely extend long after the virus is at bay, advisors should shift their focus to video and broadcast, as well as build a robust LinkedIn engagement strategy. By preparing now, financial advisors can continue to build and nurture impactful relationships through the fall and beyond, establishing resilient and reliable pipelines for growth.
Brian Hart is the Founder & President at Flackable, an award-winning public relations agency representing financial and professional services brands nationwide. To learn more about Flackable, please visit flackable.com. Follow Brian on Twitter at @BrianHartPR.