We all know first impressions are important in the business world. It’s why we dress up for job interviews and rehearse our presentations before meeting with a new group of potential clients.
The problem is that these days most first impressions occur long before you meet face-to-face. Referral sources and prospective clients in today’s market search your online presence to see if they should make the effort to meet with you. If your profiles are incomplete, uninteresting, or out-of-date, you could lose their business.
Your profile and bio sections on social platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter should not only tell viewers who you are, but also define your strengths and position you as the ideal candidate to get the job done.
We’re picking back up with Mike Boggiano, National Sales Manager for Silver Hill Funding and veteran social media practitioner, as he continues to explain how mortgage brokers can take advantage of social media to grow their business. In this post, you get Mike’s take on the importance of first impressions on social media and advice you can put into practice right now.
If you missed Part 1 of this series, click here to catch up.
Why should mortgage brokers care about their profile descriptions on social media platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter?
To put it simply: Your profile tells people who you are, what benefits you provide, and what sets you apart from everyone else in your field. Look, anyone can upload their resume and list “commercial mortgage broker” as their job title. But when referral sources or potential clients visit your profile, they need to feel confident that you are uniquely qualified to provide the solutions they need.
It’s like they say – you only get one first impression. What are some common mistakes you see brokers make on their social profiles?
To me there’s no bigger mistake than not regularly updating your profile. Sometimes I’ll look at an underwriter’s LinkedIn profile and it’s like I’m getting to know a completely different person. Their job history hasn’t been updated in years and their Skills section doesn’t reflect their current position.
That’s why I always make sure our underwriters maintain updated LinkedIn profiles. After all, if underwriters can’t make an effort with something as simple as a LinkedIn profile description, how can you expect them to go the extra mile when working on a difficult deal?
Another common mistake is to keep your business profiles private. If you plan to use Facebook and Twitter to engage with others and establish yourself as an industry thought leader, your profile needs to be open to the public. The whole idea here is to market your business, and it’s impossible to do that if referral sources and prospective clients can’t even see your page.
Lastly, I think brokers hurt themselves when they don’t use a photo. The interaction may take place online, but social media is really about creating human connections. It’s much more difficult to make that type of connection when you can’t see a face.
It’s funny you should say that. According to LinkedIn, merely adding a professional photo to your page makes you 14 times more likely to be found on the service.
It sounds like the mistakes you listed can be traced back to a failure to fully commit to social media platforms. In part one, you suggested that brokers incorporate LinkedIn and Twitter into their social strategy. What can brokers do right now to create a more powerful presence on LinkedIn?
Before you start, you need to think about your objectives. What are you trying to accomplish? If your goal is to acquire new business, think about filling each section of your profile with important information to help persuade potential clients to choose you over everyone else.
LinkedIn has a helpful resource on how to optimize your profile. I would follow their instructions and keep an eye on your profile completion percentage. The more information you add to your profile, the higher the percentage.
As you fill out each section, look for opportunities to write about your experience in commercial and residential lending, the property types you’re familiar with, and the loan amounts you typically handle. Without using specifics, I would also think about listing an example or two of successful fundings.
There’s a reason LinkedIn puts such a strong emphasis on filling out each section of your profile. For example, they report that users who complete the Skills section receive 13 times more profile views. What other sections do you think brokers should fill out?
I like to look at the LinkedIn Summary section to get a feel for a broker. The savviest brokers use this section to share their best elevator pitch and point out each of the benefits they offer.
I’m always surprised when I discover that a broker neglected to fill out the Contact section. Listing your phone number and email address there makes it easy for non-LinkedIn members to contact you after coming across your page in a web search.
OK, so now we’ve taken care of our LinkedIn profile. What about our Twitter bio section?
Twitter only gives you 160 characters to tell the world who you are, so you better make them count. Use the space to list your job title and the biggest benefit you provide. If you don’t explicitly state your occupation, referral partners and prospective clients won’t be able to find you when they search Twitter for commercial brokers.
Of course, there’s more to your Twitter profile than those 160 characters. To increase the chances of potential clients finding you online, be sure to list your location and select interests like “Real Estate” and “Financial Services” from Twitter’s list. Lenders who advertise their services on Twitter can then target you with their communications and lead you to new programs for your clients, while other business partners can easily find you as they search the site.
Mike, what would you say to those people who are worried about giving away too much personal information on social profile and bio sections?
I think it’s important to separate the social platforms you use to grow your business from the ones you use to keep up with friends and family. For example, I only use my Facebook account to communicate with friends and family. On the other hand, I only use my Twitter feed to share mortgage industry news. Once you determine if a social network will be used for either personal or professional use, it will become much easier to guard your privacy.
I want to add here that brokers should be mindful of what they post even on personal networks. It isn’t always clear which opinions are their own and which represent those of their company. Before the next post goes live, answer this question: Would I be comfortable seeing my post as a headline on the front page of tomorrow’s Washington Post?
Mike, we’ve talked about how brokers can optimize their social profiles so referral sources and prospective clients can more easily find them. But let’s be honest, if maximizing a profile’s potential were easy then everyone would do it. LinkedIn reports that only half of their users have a fully-completed profile, even though users with complete profiles are 40 times more likely to receive business opportunities through their LinkedIn accounts.
What advice do you have for brokers who feel daunted by the prospect of overhauling their entire social identity?
Look, it may not be easy but you just have to get started. Go through your profiles and identify your weak areas. Then devote as little as 30 minutes each day to strengthening them until you’ve shared as much as you can about who you are as a mortgage broker and how you are uniquely qualified to meet borrowers’ needs. Just remember that your profiles are never truly finished because your story is always progressing, with new strengths to define and successes to share.
Be sure to join us for the conclusion of our interview as Mike reveals strategies and tactics that will take your social media presence from good to great!
Mapi Pina is the Social Media Manager for Silver Hill Funding. She’s excited to show brokers how they can use social media to transform their marketing efforts.