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   ARTICLE   |   From Scotsman Guide Residential Edition   |   November 2013

Is Your Online Presence Delivering Results?

Improved home values are driving a housing market recovery

Unless you've been living under the proverbial rock for the past several years, you probably understand that social media — if used correctly — can be a powerful tool for your business. But with so many choices, so little time and so much advice from the countless social media experts, where do you begin?

If you’re a mortgage professional in particular, however, there’s little doubt when it comes to identifying the best site for your career: LinkedIn. This social network is a more traditional business channel that allows you to create a professional presence and connect with a significant number of individuals across multiple industries, including local companies and professionals, previous employers and more. All at once, your entire network can be continuously informed of your role as a skilled professional in the mortgage arena.

Taking a closer look at LinkedIn, this site can be especially useful to mortgage originators in each of the following respects:

  • Generating leads
  • Substantiating your credibility as a mortgage originator
  • Enhancing your visibility
  • Enabling warm referrals to future clients

Each of these relate to at least one of three key aspects of the sales process — namely, that people do business with people that they know, like or trust, a reality that’s proven time and time again in the mortgage industry. With that in mind, your success with LinkedIn can be evaluated by examining the number of quality connections that you have, as well as the amount of endorsements and recommendations that you've received.

Let’s take a closer look at how LinkedIn relates to each of the three aforementioned areas — that is, how this site can help your connections know you, like you and trust you.

Know

According to a recent joint study from the National Association of Realtors and Google, nine out of 10 prospective homebuyers used online searches in their shopping process, and 52 percent began their house-hunting process online. Not too long ago, finding your lender and mortgage originator often was done via referral and direct marketing. Now, however, that process is following the homebuying trend and initially is being sourced online more often by the customer.

Having a complete, keyword-rich LinkedIn profile will improve your search-engine results, making you easier to find online. This type of name recognition will begin to turn cold calls into warm calls. In addition, you can proactively connect with and request introductions to referral sources in an effort to grow your database.

Like

Let’s face it — the mortgage business is still a relationship-based industry. Nothing can replace spending quality time with a potential customer, but that doesn't mean that LinkedIn can’t help you start a relationship.

Your LinkedIn profile can be a vehicle to engage with your connections and deepen your relationship with them. Mortgage originators should be clear about one thing, however: Your sales pitch does not add value to these relationships. Instead, be sure that you’re posting helpful articles, links or videos to your LinkedIn account — content that will be useful or interesting to your connections.

In addition, be sure to update your status with a balance of personal and professional information. Although your LinkedIn status should primarily be work related, a few personal updates sprinkled here and there can position you as a well-rounded professional who is easily approachable. This also gives your connections the opportunity to find common ground with you.

Trust

The concept of “social proof” has been around for a long time, but it’s reached a critical mass with the advent of social media. Social proof simply is the phenomenon where a person assumes the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behavior in a given solution. For example, you would rarely try a new restaurant without researching online reviews or asking friends and colleagues for their opinions in an effort to validate your choice.

The same thing happens with mortgage and financial transactions. How do prospects and Realtors look for social proof to validate their selection of a funding partner for a highly sensitive transaction? LinkedIn can provide that social proof through recommendations and endorsements from current and previous customers.

Using LinkedIn to its fullest

The question remains: As a mortgage originator, what more should you do with LinkedIn aside from simply completing your profile? Here are a few tips to leverage your LinkedIn account every day:

  • Connect with all customers after the loan-application process.
  • Ask for post-closing recommendations from every customer.
  • Share each recommendation with your referral sources.
  • Send a link to your profile page to every lead to validate, confirm or convince them of their decision.
  • Send a connection request after meeting with a new referral source.

Having a presence online is not about adding another channel or revenue stream to your organization — it’s about the future and the survival of your business. Consider blocking off time on your weekly calendar to leverage LinkedIn, and remember that your end goal is to market yourself and your company effectively. With that in mind, before the end of the year, take some time to evaluate your LinkedIn profile’s effectiveness and focus on how you can utilize the site to grow your business in the months and years to come.


 


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