A local company needs a consult on its retirement plan. A prospect types your name in their Web browser? Are you there?
What does your online reputation say about you and your firm? Your online reputation is the complete footprint an interested party or prospect sees when they type your name in their Web browser, visits your website and reads what has been said about you.
Web browsers turn up a mix of results. More often than you would think, they turn up an obsolete phone number or multiple advisors with the same last name. In other words, they are looking for you online and can’t find you. You may never know when someone fails to reach you. Who is charged with managing your online reputation? It turns out you are.
Advisors who turn up well in search engines often have a few characteristics in common. They have strong and clearly differentiated websites that are well optimized, have active profiles on LinkedIn and have been quoted somewhere. They have left a trail of information, from organizations whose directories are online to articles in which they have been quoted. Commonly used names are the greatest obstacles to turning up high in search results.
Before you rule out social media, consider this: LinkedIn is a referring site for professionals with LinkedIn profiles. Having a profile on LinkedIn is a sure way to enhance your search results. Two-thirds (64%) of all visits to corporate websites come from social media sites and this is steadily increasing, according to a study by INVESTIS IQ Research.* Of course, a secondary reason to grow your network through LinkedIn is to keep up with professional updates and whereabouts of people you know or acquaintances you once knew. You also want to provide contact information and updates to people in your network who may wish to contact you. In short, if you want more referrals, you need to be on LinkedIn. Beyond setting up a profile on LinkedIn, consider broadening your network further by joining a LinkedIn Group and share common interests with like-minded professionals, such as food, alumni affiliation, sports, etc. If the task seems daunting, focus on the benefits in terms of “findability,” potential referrals and enhanced reputation. Managing your online reputation is the most important branding work you can do, and it will be among the most cost-effective too. Your own firm website is the starting point to provide prospects with the clearest and most descriptive statement of the type of firm and advisor you are. Your website is the authoritative source for information about your firm and defines the areas in which your firm excels – does it pass the test?
By Gerri Leder, founder and president firstname.lastname@example.org