Join Beyond Insurance’s Chief Experience Officer Matt O’Neill and podcast host Edwin Morris as they review “How to Prospect on LinkedIn for Insurance Agents.” Recently, The Iroquois Group sponsored a course through Beyond Insurance. The course was called Savvy Social Selling, the highlight of which was focused on independent insurance agencies using LinkedIn to their advantage. During this episode Matt touches on why agents should be using the platform, the best way to spruce up a LinkedIn profile and how to effectively fill your prospect pipeline online. Don’t miss this opportunity to connect with someone who will always be on the independent agencies team. Get started on your prospecting journey with LinkedIn today.
Edwin K. Morris (5s):
Welcome to the trusted adviser podcast brought to you by Iroquois Group. Iroquois is your trusted advisor in all things insurance. I am Edwin K Morris. Matt O’Neill is the chief Experience officer at Beyond Insurance. He oversees the delivery of a positive experience to the key stakeholders interacting with Beyond insurance services and solutions. He is also a master coach for the global network. Matt’s focus is on creating deep, long lasting rapport with prospects and clients and differentiating oneself in a crowded market place. in the world of social media, social connection, how does LinkedIn rate?
Matt O’Neill (50s):
Edwin, first of all, thank you so much for letting me join you and your great team on this podcast. When it comes to LinkedIn in the world of social media and connecting online, I always tell Agents that it is another arrow in their quiver. I think one of the big misconceptions about social media is that there are social media, we have to use it for prospecting. But I, being transparent, will tell you, if you have something that works, if you’re a great cold caller, if you’re a great door knocker, then that’s awesome. But I think what the pandemic has shown is that we need to be willing to expand our horizons and try new prospecting strategies because in the new normal post pandemic, we know that many organizations will have some sort of hybrid uhm, in office, out office type of strategy for their employees.
Matt O’Neill (1m 36s):
And so we need to be able to meet our clients where they are. And typically if it’s online, it’s going to be through social media on platforms like LinkedIn.
Edwin K. Morris (1m 43s):
Well, what’s the big pay-off?
Matt O’Neill (1m 46s):
Today, social media is kind of a bit like a moving target. One of the nice things about LinkedIn at the time of this recording is it still has a large organic reach. Meaning anytime that you post content online on a LinkedIn platform, it has a much higher probability of getting in front of the right audiences as opposed to platforms like Facebook and Twitter. And when you look at organizations that are now just getting onto Facebook, unfortunately it feels almost like you’re five, six, 10 years too late. You have the opportunity to do that on some of these platforms like LinkedIn and there’s even a few new emerging ones that you should be playing around with as well.
Edwin K. Morris (2m 21s):
In prep of this conversation, I took a look at LinkedIn’s website. They claim over 740 million members and 200 countries and territories. So that to me sounds like a pretty good solid footprint. Like you say, with the Facebook, Facebook is more of a shotgun approach. LinkedIn is a very select targeting scope, if you will, you have the either category or type of people or organizations or businesses you want to set yourself up in connection with.
Matt O’Neill (2m 50s):
And Edwin, I’m glad that you brought up those statistics because they are a hundred percent accurate, but taking that even a step further, if you dive into those statistics, most of the users on LinkedIn are in the U.S. like, and it’s, I don’t remember the exact figures, but it’s like 70% plus are U.S. So if you’re a U. S. Agency, right, this is your prime target audience. And it has advanced search features. If you know how to use them correctly, that will allow you to be able to find the exact person in the exact position at the exact company you’re looking for, if you just know how to do it right.
Edwin K. Morris (3m 23s):
And not to mention that since Microsoft purchased LinkedIn, there is a tremendous amount of backend integrations with Microsoft products.
Matt O’Neill (3m 32s):
Absolutely. Which is super flexible. And LinkedIn continues to make advances on their own. If I could give one suggestion for everyone that’s listening if they are even thinking about LinkedIn, I would do a quick Google search. So they do not make this URL easy. But look for LinkedIn’s social selling index, it’s actually a free grading system for your LinkedIn profile, and it will actually give you a score out of a, a hundred on a couple of different metrics that they think are really important that you should pay attention to if you’re really trying to maximize the LinkedIn platforms.
Edwin K. Morris (3m 60s):
Is that something that you get with the paid service or the paid membership of LinkedIn, or is that just for anyone?
Matt O’Neill (4m 5s):
That is probably the one of the number one questions I get about LinkedIn when I teach it: do I need a paid subscription to LinkedIn? And I always tell people no. I have very rarely seen Agents maximize the free platform of LinkedIn. So things like the Social Selling index, advanced searches using things like Boolean searches, all of these different tactics and strategies can be utilized in a completely free format. I always tell people don’t pay for it unless you actually feel like you need to.
Edwin K. Morris (4m 32s):
In my experience, I had a, a year’s membership as a veteran.
Matt O’Neill (4m 37s):
Thank you for serving.
Edwin K. Morris (4m 38s):
Well, thank you. I was able to use that for a year, but then it went back to the free and I was like, I apparently wasn’t using it at the level I could have. Yeah, you’re right. I, the free is as powerful as I need. Yeah. And that is going to be for probably 90% of the industry because I, again, I just don’t think people are even aware of how much power is in the free version of LinkedIn. You just have to know where to look and how to utilize it. So what does it simplify and make useful for the average bear?
Matt O’Neill (5m 8s):
So when you were looking for opportunities to connect on things like referrals or trying to find prospects that have accounts you’re trying to go after, there are agencies that continue to cold-call. I always argue there is probably always an opportunity to try and warm up that lead just a little bit. And one of the easiest ways to do that is go on some of your closest connections. These are like raving fans of yours, go on their LinkedIn pages and see who they’re connected with that you’re, not connected with that could be potential clients. That’s a very simple way to begin filling your prospect pipeline. Especially if you have a sales manager that requires you, let’s say once a quarter or monthly, to show up and say I’ve done research on X number of accounts. This is a prime real estate space.
Matt O’Neill (5m 49s):
And again, it’s completely free. So why not take advantage of it with trying to fill your pipeline with accounts that you actually want to write and you get excited about having as your own clients.
Edwin K. Morris (5m 59s):
And you’re building a research and Intelligence piece by doing all of this.
Matt O’Neill (6m 4s):
Absolutely. There’s a lot of platforms out there that you can pay for, for deep research. But this is a really great place to start. Go in, look at that CFO that works for that local country club. And if you look at that country club, you might even see the previous CFO who used to work there, who is now working for a different country club, right? So it’s a very, it’s a really interesting way that you can leverage LinkedIn to really build out this web of Prospective opportunities.
Edwin K. Morris (6m 29s):
Well said, we’ve talked about how useful it is to the user, but how useful is it to represent yourself? What are the key components in your profile that get people to come look at you?
Matt O’Neill (6m 42s):
So when you do a Google search for you, Edwin, or me, or anyone else on the Iroquois team, one of two things are probably going to pop up on the first page of Google. It’s going to be either your company that you’re working for – so Iroquois or Beyond Insurance, or it’s going to be probably your LinkedIn profile. And so I think if you have that prime real estate on the first page of Google, if someone were to hand you and say, this is a free way to get on the first page of search results for Google, you better take advantage of that because that is very expensive for many companies to pay for it and get that advertising space. So when we look at your profile, well, there’s a lot of different things that I think you should consider. If I could break it down and do just three of the most important things, the first one will be your header image.
Matt O’Neill (7m 25s):
You’d be surprised at how many blurry photos of people there are, or people that are on vacation or people who have cocktail’s in their hand or they’re sunburned. Everyone has it, it’s unbelievable. Or maybe they don’t even have one in the first place. Right? And someone’s going to Your, to your LinkedIn profile. If they want to learn about you, they don’t want to necessarily learn about your company. They know this is your digital business card. So make sure it represents you accurately either so it’s a photo of you in the environment of your working. So if you specialize in breweries, take a photo at a brewery then, right. But make sure you still look professional. Don’t – not after you’ve tried their beer, or after you’ve had your 15th flight, exactly. Yeah. Or just make sure that go outside, stand next to the, Your office building and have your friend use your smartphones.
Matt O’Neill (8m 6s):
Take a nice professional photo of you up against a brick wall. Or the second thing that I think you need to consider is your header image. This is that image of above your profile. I always consider this the billboard of your LinkedIn profile. So there is a rule of thumb in marketing. If you’re, if you were a billboard expert, which not many people are, that you typically have no more than seven to nine words on a billboard, and this would be a really fun exercise. Next time you were driving down the street and you’re sitting in the passenger seat, count the number of words on billboards. You will see that most Billboard’s, that are easy to read when you’re driving down a fast highway is seven to nine words. And I think that rule should be applied to your header image as well. So what are the seven to nine words that are going to capture your ideal client’s attention? Because they’re not going to spend a very long on your profile.
Matt O’Neill (8m 48s):
And then the last part is really your bio section. A lot of agents today still have their bios written like their resume, right? They might have updated it five, seven years and they were trying to get a job, but now we need to transform LinkedIn and use it more as a networking platform. So I always recommend that you break it down into what you do, who are you working with today – and that could be specific companies, or maybe it’s specific industries, but listing those will let the Prospect say, okay, he’s a, he or she is here to work for me,- why it works. So what is your unique differentiator? What is your value proposition? What others say, testimonials are incredibly important. It’s one thing for me to tell you how, how great I am as an insurance professional, but it’s a whole other thing when my clients brag about me.
Matt O’Neill (9m 29s):
And then finally a call to action. I think that’s a huge missed opportunity just to put in your phone number or your work email, so that if someone reads it and they want to get more information on you, they have an opportunity to do so.
Edwin K. Morris (9m 40s):
I have, I’ve heard positive and negative about the recommendations. Does it get gamed a little bit, do you think?
Matt O’Neill (9m 47s):
So LinkedIn definitely considers the number of recommendations and endorsements that you have on your profile. So if you’re looking for a strategy to increase the probability that you show up in search results, when they, they search your name. For example, Matt O’Neil is a pretty common Irish name. So there are a lot of Matt O’Neill’s on LinkedIn today. So I need to try and get as many recommendations as possible so that I outpace the other Matt O’Neills when someone is searching for me. And so that was a) really important, but also if you take a step back, there is less trust in organizational branding and marketing. People, our consumers in general, are less likely to trust organizations and, and their pitches right. Especially with the number of advertisements that are out there. People are much more willing to trust people that they know, like, and trust.
Matt O’Neill (10m 30s):
And while that might not be a sales professional, it could be the people that are supporting that sales professional. So could be that credible center of influence in your local marketplace. It could be the large organization that you just recently wrote and you have delivered a really great experience. It could be that family who is sitting on a lot of boards, or perhaps the coach of the local sports teams in the high school, right, and getting a recommendation from them. Those types of endorsements are incredibly important because it shows that you’re not just a sleazy sales person, but you actually are there to help some of the most important people in your community, which is exactly what Insurance is about.
Edwin K. Morris (11m 6s):
Community-building. 100%. Tell me about hashtags and who uses them in LinkedIn.
Matt O’Neill (11m 10s):
Hashtags is actually brand new in LinkedIn, I shouldn’t say brand new, but one of the newest features on LinkedIn. Hashtags is a way for you to help get your content in front of the right people. So if you are searching for breweries, you might be hashtagging brewery or alcohol or something like that. And I don’t know why breweries is the one that is coming.
Edwin K. Morris (11m 29s):
Yeah, yeah. Apparently you’re a Still in St. Patrick’s day month.
Matt O’Neill (11m 31s):
Well, I know, I know. Well, you can think about this in the mid, in many industries. I like to use as examples like agriculture. I think a lot of people don’t also think of people in ag being on LinkedIn, but there’s a lot of groups that are agricultural related. If you use those types of search results, when you use a hashtag, if someone from the agriculture industry is looking through that hashtag, it increases the likelihood that your content, even if you’re not connected with that individual user, your content will still appear. The secret to using that though is not using hashtags that people don’t use. So I see a lot of people hashtag their own company name – how many people are following your company name, you know, on LinkedIn – they’re probably not, right? So you need to think what are those search terms that my target audience is reading about or using, and hashtag those terms.
Edwin K. Morris (12m 15s):
And another way you can flip that is that if you’re thinking of a hashtag, search it first and see if someone that you really don’t want to be associated with is already using them.
Matt O’Neill (12m 24s):
Edwin, you are going to be a master at LinkedIn by the end of this conversation. Great. I love it.
Edwin K. Morris (12m 29s):
Tell me about the opportunities is to learn more about all this with Beyond Insurance.
Matt O’Neill (12m 33s):
Yeah. So this is one of the things Beyond Insurance really has a keen focus on everything we do is really trying to help the independent agent differentiate in an otherwise commoditized marketplace. And this is just one additional resource that we have. We not only have a lot of content on it, but we have, we host occasionally and you should check this kind of stuff out. We host social media marketing online courses. We’ve done them in person pre COVID, typically sponsored by a, your favorite Carrier is oftentimes, but the difference between the way we approach social media marketing and a lot of other organizations – and their value is wonderful – it’s my assumption that agents don’t have a ton of time to build this huge marketing budget and constantly create content because there’s a lot of pressure on them to make sure that they hit their numbers.
Matt O’Neill (13m 16s):
And they are knocking on enough doors and making enough phone calls. So the way that I approach it is how do we get down and dirty and fill your prospect pipeline and your scouting list by using some very simple, quick and effective strategies so that you can find the right people and you can connect with them in a way that you feel the most comfortable with.
Edwin K. Morris (13m 37s):
Thank you very much for this insightful talk. LinkedIn is a, is a benefit, I think, in a lot of regards, but what have you seen in the last year? I’m just curious to how LinkedIn is being used.
Matt O’Neill (13m 50s):
Okay. So LinkedIn, I think is extremely under utilized in general in this industry. I think that there is still a ton of opportunity for agents and brokers to go out, to test the waters on LinkedIn. And I always tell him if the tactic doesn’t work the first time, it’s all right, give it another shot. I’m also happy to help, but that’s one of the wonderful things about Beyond Insurance. We are, we are open books with our information. So you’re always welcome to reach out to a member of the Beyond insurance team. And we can go through advanced search tactics. I love helping people. That’s why I’m here. That’s why I’m in the role that I am in, in this industry. But I, I just think that there’s so much prime real estate there, but again, that has to be the arrow in the quiver that you would like to use. Don’t just use LinkedIn, just because someone is talking about LinkedIn,
Edwin K. Morris (14m 29s):
So I have to ask, do you provide a graphic tool that helps somebody do a self analysis of their LinkedIn profile to do a health check?
Matt O’Neill (14m 36s):
Absolutely, We actually do have it. It’s funny that you mentioned that. We do have a checklist that I can provide any of your listeners and they can go through and just mark off, you know, things on their header profile, their profile image, their bio. It’s a very simple, like two page checklist you can go through. I am happy to give that to any real listeners. That’s pretty awesome. The only advice I will say is that instead of typing your content in LinkedIn, do it on a word processing software first, because doing live edits is always surprising what you actually typed. Yeah. And actually, a real small tactic about that that a lot of people don’t know: if you type your bio into Microsoft word and use some, something like bullets, you can copy and paste that into your bio in LinkedIn.
Matt O’Neill (15m 22s):
And it’ll actually keep the bullets because it’s Microsoft compatible. That’s not something that you can not put bullets in your bio if you’re just manually typing it in. So Edwin you are, you’re better at LinkedIn than me at this point. I’m going to have to start it over.
Edwin K. Morris (15m 33s):
Good. And I did not know that, I’m gonna go fix mine right now. Yup. So how would someone find you on LinkedIn?
Matt O’Neill (15m 41s):
It’s a very simple these days, if you hopefully search Matt O’Neill and you’re in the insurance industry, I should show up, but everyone has a unique URL that you can set up. If you haven’t, make sure you take, take advantage of your name. Mine’s just LinkedIn dot com slash in slash I N slash Matthew D O Neill. My middle name’s David, very Irish family, but you can just search for me there. Or you can connect with me by just emailing me at M O’Neill at Beyond insurance.com, oy you can call me directly at four eight four seven zero four at nine five zero four, and I’m happy to talk to you about these tactics.
Edwin K. Morris (16m 13s):
Cool. All right. Well have a great rest of the year and hopefully we will see you again around the Insurance biz.
Matt O’Neill (16m 19s):
Edwin, thank you so much for allowing me to talk today. I’ll talk with you soon.
Edwin K. Morris (16m 25s):
Thanks for listening to this edition of the trusted advisor podcast brought to you by Iroquois Group. Iroquois, Your trusted advisor for all things insurance. And remember: get out of the office and sell. I am Edwin K Morris, and I invite you to join me for the next edition of the trusted advisor podcast.