LinkedIn provides yet another opportunity for financial advisors to increase their professional credibility through its group discussion page option, says Javed Khan, president of EMpression: A Marketing Services Co. in Aurora, Ont.

The group discussion page is a free feature that allows you to connect with your peers or the public at large and demonstrate your industry knowledge. You’ll find it by logging into your LinkedIn account and locating the “Interests” option at the top of your newsfeed page and then clicking on “Groups.”

Khan shares four necessary steps to setting up a compelling group discussion page:

1. Check with compliance
Ensure your firm will allow you to create a discussion page. Be ready to provide your compliance department with specific details on the content you’ll be sharing, your target audience and what your goal is for this initiative.

If it is permitted, find out the exact process of getting posts and comments cleared with your firm, as well as whether the firm has any of its own pre-approved content that you might post.

2. Be clear on why you want to create the group
Would the discussion group be a possible prospecting tool? Are you looking to provide your clients with timely content? Or do you want to connect with fellow advisors in order to share best practices?

Knowing your reasons for starting the discussion group will help define your audience as well as allow you to explore how you can differentiate your group from the countless others on LinkedIn.

“You want to provide some value as to why people should join your group and not anyone else’s,” says Khan.

What do you think is missing from the LinkedIn environment? For example, perhaps you’re a new advisor and you would like to hear from similar advisors in your community. That may be your audience. Making this kind of choice may also help you to narrow down the subjects of possible postings.

3. Don’t use your group discussion page as a sales tool
The vast majority of content on your page should be educational, says Khan. If your audience consists of clients and prospects, only 10% of posts should promote services or products.

You want to be known as the resource person when it comes to financial education, Khan explains, not a salesperson.

It’s also important that your group members are not selling their own agendas through your page, which is why Khan recommends making your group private. This would allow you to approve anyone that wants to join the group and okay their content. This will keep your message on track and is handy when dealing with your compliance department.

4. Ensure regular maintenance
A fresh and relevant discussion page requires consistent posting as well as timely approval of new members and their own content. Sharing time-sensitive information three days after the news was made public will not reflect well on your brand.

In order to keep an eye on this, have a team member help manage the page. Just make sure that the person who is helping you knows the message you want to convey, says Khan.

And don’t forget to be in frequent touch with your compliance representative: the timeliness of your posts will depend on how quickly he or she approves them.

This is the sixth instalment in an occasional series on using LinkedIn to promote your practice.