Advocis, The Financial Advisors Association of Canada, sponsored a 2-hour continuing professional development (CPD) session for members on Understanding Social Media Networks for Financial Advisors on March 14, 2012. My decision to attend was based on a few factors. First, there were 2 continuing education (CE) credits accredited by the Institute for Advanced Financial Education. These particular credits are needed toward the 30 required annually for my Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) and Certified Health Insurance Specialist (CHS) designations. Second, there was no charge. While I do pay to attend sessions, free ones are certainly nice. Of course, we do pay annual membership dues, so it can be seen as extra value. Third, I have an interest in social networks. My interest extends beyond just learning about networks and tools, but it ties with my research direction. I’m particularly enthused when the topic addresseses using social networks in relation to continuing professional development.

The presenter was Jay Palter, noted on LinkedIn as a ‘social media strategist/consultant working with professionals & business owners to build authentic brand identity.” I must admit curiosity, as I have been involved with social media for a number of years and had not hard of Jay. He has been in Edmonton for about 3 years, and I have obviously not been as involved as I should be. I take this as my need to get out more and monitor the Edmonton hashtag on Twitter (#yeg). Jay is @JayPalter.

I counted 37 participants in the room. They were divided between beginners in social media and intermediate (I didn’t note the exact split), with 2 advanced. Only 3 indicated they did not have a LinkedIn profile. While some hands might not have been raised, there were an overwhelming number with profiles. A number indicated they had a Twitter account, but I noted only 1 tweet from 1 other attendee. I posted a number of tweets that now give me an opportunity to review a few key points that stood out.

  • People want others in their network whom they know, like, and trust.
  • Focus on using social media to engage with your current clients to add growth.
  • An important concept in social networking is curation. This is something we have addressed in at least one MOOC (massive open online course).
  • Attendees were definitely interested in compliance issues.
  • Every business is going to need social media skills.
  • Use social media personally before using professionally. You learn as you go.

It was meant as an introductory presentation but sought to provide value to more advanced users. Jay seemed to accomplish that and may have increased interest in using social media in relation to the business and personal activities of advisors.

We missed something, though. The focus was on using social media in relation to clients. There was an opportunity for 37 advisors to become connected professionally. In some workshops in the past, we have created email lists. Here, the sharing of Twitter names and LinkedIn profile links would have been appropriate. Or, perhaps not. What do others think about this? Do you prefer to make such connections only after getting to know someone? I wonder how many connected with, or followed, Jay!