Virginia Community Banker: LinkedIn Has Business Development Potential

By Ann Chen

Tips from Bruce Gemmill on Fully Using LinkedIn

Nurturing LinkedIn relationships is similar to forming personal relationships in that it requires time and attention. Bruce Gemmill of John Marshall Bank in Reston, Va., recommends the following action items:

1. Make the most of your profile. Do the following to your profile:

Get keywords in your summary and headline.

Customize your URL.

Define yourself with actions, not responsibilities.

Get a great photo.

Update everything you can.

Add at least two relevant industry groups and five target industry groups.

2. Daily activities include:

Liking a post or comment.

Posting a link to a relevant article or blog.

Checking mail and replying.

Posing a question to a group.

3. Weekly activities include:

Writing an article and posting it, or posting an article from your bank.

Writing an expert reply to a group post.

Composing a list (Top 10 must-read blogs).

Reaching out to past contacts.

4. Monthly activities include:

Refining your profile.

Running various searches to create new contact lists.

When it comes to social media, Bruce Gemmill, senior vice president of John Marshall Bank in Reston, Va., prefers the professional network LinkedIn. Gemmill has been on the social site for about eight years and was invited by other colleagues to join up.

About three years ago, he started paying stricter attention to the business development potential LinkedIn presented. This month’s column highlights some of his well-considered tips and insights.

IB: Why LinkedIn?

Gemmill: LinkedIn is a great business prospecting tool. John Marshall Bank focuses primarily on business banking, and as such social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and others seem not the appropriate channel for us at this time.

Facebook and Twitter are the two most popular social networking sites (more than 900 million and 310 million unique daily users respectively). LinkedIn is ranked third (255 million unique daily users) and is generally considered pertinent for business.

IB: Who should use LinkedIn at your community bank and why?

Gemmill: The way I look at it, every employee is a bank ambassador. There is no reason to discount the positive effect employees can have in the Internet market, provided they exercise the appropriate regulatory and internal protocol standards.

IB: What do you deem the most useful tool on LinkedIn?

Gemmill: I suppose it depends on the position one holds within the bank. Business development officers will benefit from InMail, endorsements and posting professional accomplishments on their profile page. Marketing officers will appreciate the data received from company pages, information which will support sales and marketing efforts as well as retention efforts.

Groups can be used for prospecting and establishing one’s credibility or expertise in a particular subject. Groups also help one stay current with the latest news, the knowledge of which supports networking and prospecting. Pulse is an excellent way to keep abreast with topics of interest to the bank and individual, whether operations, lending or business development.

All are useful tools, to be used singly or collectively, depending on the role one has within the bank.

IB: What can you get in LinkedIn that you can’t get from Facebook or Twitter?

Gemmill: As I mentioned earlier, LinkedIn is considered a strictly business site. Information discussed, articles written, accomplishments shared and all other postings on LinkedIn are business-related. Unlike Facebook users, LinkedIn members are not expected to share personal exploits. To do so only risks offending the audience you are intending to impress.

That’s the difference between a social networking site like Facebook and a business networking site like LinkedIn. Marketing products and services are shunned by more social sites, and businesses can do more harm to their brand than good if they don’t push business interests carefully. However, marketers have greater rein on LinkedIn. Twitter offers a little more opportunity, and allows for promoting a business’s news, products and services to a proprietary following interested in staying current with that particular business or individual.

In the case of John Marshall Bank, I have not engaged Twitter yet, but I am considering its use in the near future. Twitter is real-time and requires a reliable person who will make frequent daily updates.

Ann Chen ( is ICBA’s director, social media engagement. Follow her on Twitter @AnnJ_Chen.

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