LinkedIn tips for accountants and finance professionals

March 19, 2021

By Hannah Pitstick, Journal of Accountancy

Networking has been unusually difficult over the past year, and most professionals have leaned on virtual platforms to form and maintain professional relationships. Many of the best practices for navigating LinkedIn have remained unchanged by the pandemic, but experts contend that accountants should approach the platform in a more mindful and deliberate way because of the shifting attitudes and behaviors of a beleaguered nation.

“Virtual networking has really never been more important, so I don't know if I think the way LinkedIn is being used has changed, but people are beginning to realize its value, and I think it will continue to be valuable even beyond this pandemic,” said Karen Yankovich, founder of Uplevel Media LLC, a LinkedIn marketing and consulting company based in New York.

Once in-person meetings and events return, Yankovich predicts accountants are going to continue virtual networking and meetings to eliminate commutes and travel, while still developing the specific relationships that will help them achieve their professional goals.

If you’re hoping to get the most out of LinkedIn during and after the pandemic, aim to follow these new do’s and don’ts recommended by experts.

Don’t spam your network. Spammy messages have always been bad practice for professional networking, but during the pandemic, LinkedIn inboxes have been filling up with more junk than ever, and many people have lost their patience.

“There is almost never a reason to reach out to cold leads on LinkedIn,” Yankovich said. “There are tons of things you can use as a connector, and while it takes a little bit more work upfront, you're going to have a higher success rate.”

Instead of sending out 100 cold messages to strangers, Yankovich recommends doing some research and sending out about five warm messages a day to people with whom you have the potential to create genuine professional relationships. Warm messages are much more likely to get a response, she said, and avoiding a sales tone can help bolster your authenticity and credibility.

Expertise and credibility are among the biggest reasons people do business with accountants, according to Ty Hendrickson, CPA, founder of The Sales Seed, a consulting and training company for accountants, based in Lexington, Ky. “Being on LinkedIn is a great place to build that credibility and expertise, but it was never meant to be a social selling platform; it was built to connect professionals,” she said.

Hendrickson said that it’s fine to send out cold connection requests to people you don’t know, but in those cases, she recommends not including a message at all and letting your profile speak for itself.

“Update your profile and make sure it speaks directly to your ideal client because that's what people are going to look at to decide whether to accept your connection request,” she said.

Over the past year, cold messages have been overused and people are tuning out before they ever read them, Hendrickson said. “Those that are open to connecting with someone new will accept your connection request with or without a message,” she said. The relationship building with cold prospects begins after they accept your connection request when you follow up with a simple thank-you message, Hendrickson added. From there, you can start to build rapport if they are open to a conversation.

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