Hire a professional to take your headshot. The photo is a first impression, and a starting point for establishing trust and credibility. (Shutterstock/LightField Studios)
Keeping your business—or professional self—up with the times could be as simple as revamping your LinkedIn profile. This professional platform is no small fry when it comes to building a network in a digital world. According to OmnicoreAgency.com, of the more than 560 million LinkedIn users worldwide, 5.5 million are accountants. Clearly, it’s a platform our industry deems valuable. So, what does this mean for the more than 210,000 Canadian CPAs?
Here are some key tips from LinkedIn specialist, Stacy Maynard, on maximizing your profile’s presence to engage, and sustain, existing and future connections.
ADD A GOOD HEADSHOT
As a business and accounting professional, this is no place to skimp, says Maynard, whose business focuses on building personal brands in a digital world. No desk selfies, vacation photos or images with your dog. Hire a professional to take your headshot. The photo is a first impression, and a starting point for establishing trust and credibility.
“These are people that we look up to in the world, and really value who they are and the education that they have behind them,” says Maynard. Additionally, choose a cover photo visually in line with your brand for consistency’s sake.
INCLUDE YOUR CREDENTIALS
Make sure your professional credentials are positioned following your name, says Maynard. Rules around designations vary by province in terms of order, type, whether affiliated with a firm or self-directed. In most provinces, professionals lead with the CPA designation first, followed by legacy designations (up until 10 years after the CPA designation was adopted). Check with you local CPA body for province-specific obligations including CPA Ontario, CPA Alberta, CPA Quebec and CPA Nova Scotia.
“This is an industry where the professional designations carry a lot [of weight]…and are [often] recognized worldwide,” she explains.
USE AN ENGAGING HEADLINE
This is an opportunity to breathe life into those designations. Use the 120 characters, just below your headshot and business title/credentials, to differentiate yourself, says Maynard, be it with the clients you serve, approach you take or services you offer. “Focus on who you are, what you do and who you help,” she says.
If you specialize in a particular clientele, such as female entrepreneurs or perhaps family finances, let that be known off the top, she adds.
“That’s a big area when it comes to the financial industry because people [clients] want to make sure that you specialize in who they are as a person.”
SUM IT UP SMARTLY
Be strategic when choosing keywords (such as auditor, bookkeeper, professional accountant, CFO) to include in the career summary and experience sections. Think of your industry, of course, but also consider the users you hope to reach and what they will search for.
“This is not a place to be fancy when it comes to words because people are looking for specific things and for a specific professional,” says Maynard.
HIGHLIGHT YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS
This is where Maynard feels financial professionals miss out. Rather than just listing your roles and tasks, explain how you achieved results or evoked change at an organization. Bullet point specific metrics, if applicable.
“There are lots of people out there who believe that they know what a CFO is, or that they know what a CPA is,” she says. “I disagree…what their accomplishments are, I think, needs to be a bigger part of their profile.”
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF VIDEO MEDIA
Putting yourself upfront behind the video camera—for example, offering tips and advice or showcasing your latest speaking engagement—builds rapport and trust with users who land on your profile. It’s another opportunity to reinforce your brand and voice, while emphasizing what you have on offer.
“With financial professionals the trust is so huge because I’m taking my money to you, so being able to have an opportunity to see them talk [allows us] to see them in action, instead of just a photograph,” she says.
However, be sure the content you post adheres to any industry regulations or compliance requirements, adds Maynard.
TARGET YOUR TESTIMONIALS
Maynard’s No. 1 tip: avoid seeking testimonials from colleagues—past or present—if new clients are what you’re seeking. Testimonials are an opportunity to showcase how those you have served feel about your service and treatment. How co-operative you were to work with or whether you took the team out for lunch once a month are nice-to-haves but doesn’t mean much to prospective clients. Instead, request results-focused feedback that says exactly what your client got out of working with you.
“Sure, we want to work with nice people, but when we are talking about money and we are talking about finances, [we] want to see results,” shares Maynard. “Results-focused recommendations carry a lot more weight with this industry.”
BOOST YOUR LEADERSHIP ABILITIES
Join LinkedIn influencer, Tom Hood, for a hands-on workshop in Toronto on February 27, 2019, to identify trends that are drivers of change for your organization.