A recent study by LinkedIn and Ipsos found that while previous generations may have seen financial matters as private and would never consider discussing them with their peers, nine in ten Millennials use social networks to seek opinions and comments regarding financial markets and events. Despite the fact that the financial services industry was late to the social media game, it has increasingly become a major differentiator for leading firms in the space. Not only that, but it also plays a large part in how finance professionals are able to grow their business and keep clients up to date with the latest company and industry news.

Recently, The Financial Planning Association’s Philadelphia Chapter hosted a business development panel as a part of their NexGen professional development series. The panel of top industry professionals, which was moderated by Christopher Vassallo, CFP®, RTD Financial Advisors Inc., included Amy Sitnick, senior marketing manager at SEI, Beth D’Andrea, CFP®, founder of Plumtree Financial Planning, and our very own Joe Anthony, president of financial services at Gregory FCA.

Geared towards the millennial audience, panelists offered their expert insight on how to properly network, generate business leads and effectively utilize social media. Here are the top takeaways:

1) Tailor your social media messages.

Not all social media platforms are created equal, and each one deserves its spot in the sun. However, generating the same content across platforms is not an effective way to engage your audience. Think of it like this: Facebook is your personal channel where you have the opportunity to share photos of your company culture and provide a personal look into your practice. Twitter is your newsfeed, where you can quickly cultivate a following and share trending articles and industry news. LinkedIn is your expertise, and it dominates the professional social network segment. It is where you have the opportunity to bolster your position in the industry and connect with like-minded professionals to grow your practice. In theory, all these channels should work together to build your brand and showcase what’s unique about your practice.

2) Newsletters are not dead.

Before hitting send on your latest company announcement, think about your content and the audience on the receiving end. Make sure it’s written and distributed in a way that is easy for your clients to share—and that they will want to! Package your newsletter in a visually appealing and unique way so it doesn’t get lost in already overflowed inboxes. Newsletters also offer the opportunity for you to re-purpose relevant content. Share links to your latest blog posts or recent media coverage. Use it as another way to showcase that your firm is growing and you are committed to staying in touch with your clients.  An example of this comes from client Exencial Wealth Advisors, who distributes a weekly commentary and a quarterly newsletter to keep clients up-to-date on market fluctuations, financial planning tips and economic trends.

3) There is a right and wrong way to generate referrals.

Generating referrals is without a doubt one of the biggest and most important challenges for advisors working to grow their practice. A vital aspect of getting referrals is to first know who your ideal client is and how to connect with them. It’s not only a delicate balance of how you ask current clients for referrals, but also how you then manage the referrals you receive. One of the worst things you can do after receiving a referral is to make the process difficult for your prospective client. Instead of setting up an appointment with a junior member of the firm, set them up with the head of the firm. Not only will this make an excellent first impression, it will show your client how much you value their time. Additionally, utilize LinkedIn as a tool to grow your network. Before any prospect or client meeting you should be checking out their LinkedIn as a way to see connections and interests you mayhave in common.

In the end, social media, newsletters and referrals all play an important part in how you grow and develop a business. However, it all comes down to how you humanize your practice and how each of these channels work together.