Have you heard about this thing called Social Media? When I first heard the term, I really didn't understand it. Typically when I heard the term social media or blog, my initial thought was MySpace, mostly because my wife had an account. Then I learned more about what a blog really is, about Facebook, Twitter and every other social media outlet that exists. Although I didn't really understand it, I took the plunge and started to participate. Adventuring out I didn't really understand what the benefits could be. Then lo and behold, that one day came when I finally truly understood it. You could say that my “Twitter-Bulb” went off.
Via Twitter, I've been able to connect with many other professionals and other bloggers out in the web. Among those, I met a guy by the name of Lawain McNeil (@lawain), who runs a blog called the Advisor Blogger. He looks to advise other independent financial planners (like myself) on tips on improving their business and increasing the efficiency of their financial planning practice. His main area is advising planners on how to successfully incorporate Social Media into their business effectively- how fitting right?
Following on Twitter
I have been following Lawain through Twitter (if you haven't heard of Twitter yet, don't worry you will) enjoying his updates and taking note of some of his suggestions. Then one day Lawain contacted me directly having noticed that I resided in Carbondale, Illinois and asked if I was raised here. Turns out that he was originally from Salem, Illinois, which is 60 miles north of us. He still has family in the area, in my home town of Carbondale, in fact. This chance encounter via Twitter and the blogosphere has really shown me how powerful Social Media really is. As our conversation continued, it turns out that he has an aunt who is currently with another advisor, and she has not been happy with for several years and he told me that he would refer her to me. Awesome! All-in-all, I was very excited and impressed that I actually got my first referral by utilizing this thing called Social Media.
Since Lawain was so nice to reach out to me and connect, I wanted to take the time to learn more about him and his life after Southern Illinois.
Lawain, you were raised in Salem, Illinois and now you've moved elsewhere. Can you tell us a little bit being raised in Salem, Illinois and what took you out of the area?
Salem is your typical small midwestern town. Life centered around family, friendships and high school sports.
In a way it was an idyllic childhood. Life was simple. I walked or rode my bike to school every day (school was about a 1.5 miles away). In fact, on nice days, I actually rode home to eat lunch with my mom. Played a ton of whiffle ball, football, waded creeks, rode bikes and was always hanging with the neighborhood kids. There is so much about it that I wish my kids could experience.
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One of the fondest memories was my daily stop (4 blocks from my house on South Marion) at the William Jennings Bryan Public Library and the William Jennings Bryan Museum (they were next door to each other). I stopped there every day to say hello to read, help the librarians put up books, and talk. I attribute my love of books to this life experience. I would walk next door to the museum where Harold ‘Cap' Bigelow (Curator) would help me with my homework and chat about his service in the Illinois State Police (he was involved in the apprehension of notorious criminal Charlie Birger), his experience in World War I, and World War II.
I left Salem in 1982 for Cincinnati, Ohio to play basketball at Cincinnati Christian University. I remember experiencing culture shock when moving to Cincinnati.
Is there any part of you that ever considers moving back to Southern Illinois?
Yes, I think of it often. I think some of the nicest and most genuine people on the face of the earth are from towns like Salem. I miss the pace at times and always enjoy going back.
What got you into your business that you're in?
That is actually a funny story. I used to be a Corporate Account Executive for a large national copy and printing company. My territory was Cincinnati. One day I made a cold call on a financial business that became a printing client. It was not long before they became a large client. The CEO asked me to join his firm in sales (in which I told him no for a few years). I was finally convinced and thought it would be a great opportunity and the rest is history.
When did you start your first blog? When did you launch Advisor Blogger?
As a former VP of Marketing for a large Independent Registered Investment Advisor firm, I used blogging to communicate to all of the advisors I was consulting and working with. My first blog was probably 2.5 years ago. It was a great way to interact and share information with them. I loved the medium and liked the fact I could reach out at anytime and be connected.
I launched AdvisorBlogger in February 2009 with the intent of proving rich content for financial advisors and professionals.
What made you want to focus on helping financial advisors?
I love working with financial advisors and entrepreneurs. I have had the incredible opportunity to coach and consult with hundreds of advisors and have found the work absolutely satisfying.
What's the biggest misconception that you see that most financial advisors have with the concept of Social Media?
That social media is a tool that is only for college and young adults. Many advisors are not aware that the fastest growing segment for Facebook are adults age 35-54. Social Media are nothing more than tools that help communicate and connect better with those we are trying to reach.
I see that you have founded The Advisor Lab. What can you tell us about that project?
The Advisor Lab is a technology platform for advisors that is launching in May 2009. We will be doing a national announcement in mid May.
What do you feel is on the next horizon of social media?
This is the beauty of social media–it is hard to predict what is next. Since everyone can participate and share a conversation, new products and strategies will be produced as a result of this collective thought and talk that happens. However, I do think that conversations that are happening (especially on Twitter) will be used for market research since the conversations can be tracked and measured. Very cool.
Anything else you would like to share?
I am glad that we connected.
Lawain, Thanks so much for the interview! Be sure to check out Lawain's Blog Advisor Blogger.