Managing one’s digital life is becoming increasingly more important for career success as technology continues to reshape the roles and careers of finance professionals. Intentional social media use is key to gaining a handle on your digital presence and online reputation, said Kevin Bryant, CEO of the consultancy Educated Change, which has offices in India, the Philippines, the UK, and the US, in a recent FM magazine podcast.
Artificial intelligence can help firms better understand prospects and clients, but it will increasingly also determine how you as a professional, and prospective employee, are viewed. Bots will categorise you as a potential employee after going through social media sites and digital records, Bryant said. For example, psychographic data from Facebook can help evaluate a job candidate. “Based on that data,” Bryant said, “you’ll be able to determine whether that person is going to be the right person for the job.”
Of course, social media is not just about finding connections. Financial services professionals can use a variety of social platforms to show their expertise and to build trust with clients and prospects. However, employees today are not simply selling their expertise but extending their influence and expanding their networks.
Social media enables finance professionals to show they have that expertise by sharing relevant content or by socialising their own content. The personal element of social media opens the door to serendipity, chance connections that build trust through commonalities. “You sometimes make your best connections in ways that you didn’t expect,” Bryant said.
Here are some tips for financial professionals to get the most from social media:
Have a plan and know your direction. One of the most common mistakes is randomly posting or tweeting, Bryant said. Your plan should consider your brand, role, and expertise. Then decide how you will measure success. This could be through engagement data such as number of likes or shares. Follow how your social media efforts are performing, and make sure you are complying with your corporate policies on social media. For example, you might be required to save everything you post if you are communicating with clients.
Cultivate a presence across the board. Developing a profile on LinkedIn is a must, Bryant said, but you should also consider Facebook and Twitter. Those two platforms are different, but each has distinct benefits. Some professionals have been reluctant to spend time on Facebook, but the platform’s having so many members makes it hard to ignore. Twitter can help if you are building your brand and looking to be known for expertise. “Every journalist, every media person worth their salt is going to have a presence and is going to be looking at Twitter for news and trying to find the next big story or person to talk to,” Bryant said.
Strike a balance in posting. This applies to both frequency and content of posts. Some people will tune you out if you overpost, Bryant said, so be sure to know your network. If you are on LinkedIn, start with posting once or twice a week, with content that is genuinely interesting and useful to your audience. You can gauge whether your posts are effective by the feedback and engagement they get. Combine professional posts with a sprinkling of more personal updates — these could be about your interests, family, or charitable efforts — to flesh out the individual behind the business talk. “That all goes into the mix of determining, in the viewer’s mind, that this is somebody I might like to connect with,” Bryant said. A strength of social media is that it lets you share pieces of yourself without getting overly technical or trying to drive sales. Bryant noted that video remains the most popular format on social media.
Do not sell. If you come across as too self-promotional, many people will tune you out, Bryant said. One of the advantages of social media is the opportunity to establish authority in your areas of specialisation. Your content and connections can help persuade others to trust you. “Open some doors,” he said. “Try to engage people in conversation, and to show that you’ve got some sort of basic, if not high-level, expertise in the areas where you are trying to establish your reputation.”
If you are new to social media, start with a list of possible connections. LinkedIn’s search tool is especially powerful for this. Begin with your expertise and look for others who share that interest. Then narrow your list by region, company size, and connection degree to find those who might be most interested in you. Reach out to them, referring to common areas of interest and connections. “A rule of thumb [is] that if I see that someone who I don’t know is connected to at least ten people who I’m connected to … there’s a really good chance that person is going to want to connect with me,” Bryant said.
— Michael White is a freelance writer based in the US. To comment on this article or to suggest an idea for another article, contact Drew Adamek, an FM magazine senior editor, at Andrew.Adamek@aicpa-cima.com.