The Credit Union Difference

If you are looking for ways to deepen your relationship (and share of wallet) with members, maybe it’s time to look in the mirror and see how well your employees understand the credit union difference.

Why look internally to improve how your credit union is doing externally? Because when you walk into an organization where employees truly believe in the values and mission statement, you can feel the difference from the moment you walk in the door.  Your members and prospective members can too.

One of the keys to developing a strong internal culture is self-awareness: knowing what makes your organization unique in the marketplace, and ensuring your employees embrace that differentiation.
Part of the broader culture shared by all credit unions is a commitment to members and communities that goes beyond providing basic financial services.  One credit union treasurer summed it up well during the Great Depression by describing credit unions as “not for profit, not for charity, but for service.”   While most credit union employees and members understand that credit unions are not-for-profit institutions, many don’t know about the seven cooperative principles that guide how credit unions operate.

Over the next several weeks, we’ll take a look at each of these seven principles from the Credit Union National Association Cooperative Alliances Committee and how understanding them can benefit you.

4 Tips For Using LinkedIn Groups to Help Grow Your SEG Base

Now that you know WHY you should join a LinkedIn group, what do you do? How do you participate and when should you participate? This isn’t always common sense. Social Media etiquette is constantly changing and evolving but there are a few things that probably won’t ever change:

Once you join a group, try and contribute. You might not want to jump in immediately – go through the past discussions; see what the group’s personality is and what are the most popular subjects (and the most unpopular) and go from there. If you have some advice to give or a story to share, go for it! Once you feel like you know the group’s personality, start a discussion about the most recent pain point at your credit union. Don’t be scared to ask for advice and don’t be afraid to give it either! You may not have something to share right way but if there is a question posted that you know the answer to, just go ahead and contribute! Help a fellow credit union professional or community member out!

When you give advice, or comment on a post, try to do it in a way that doesn’t embarrass the one who posted or the others who have commented. You don’t want to be known as someone who is there to just make trouble. You want to make friends and make connections to grow your network and SEG base.

You will find that people in groups are incredibly willing to help- especially credit union groups with other credit union professionals and credit union consultants, etc.. there is a lot of free advice sharing in groups. Don’t just “receive” though.. give a little as well! Make sure you contribute to other’s questions to the best of your ability!

If someone helps you, you should invite them to connect to your network on LinkedIn. You never know who they know! If they were willing to help you once, they are probably willing to do it again. You want as many of those people in your network as possible!

Social media is all about being social, right? Groups are a great avenue to network, be social and connect with others in the credit union space and in your community.

Why Credit Unions Should Use LinkedIn Groups

So you have your very own LinkedIn profile and you are connecting to people! Bravo! What now? How can you further utilize this free tool to connect to businesses and professionals?

LinkedIn groups are a great way to connect to your community and other credit unions. Why should you be active in a group? (hopefully you would be in more than just one!) Several reasons:

Staying active this way online gives you a chance to live out your cooperative principle of “cooperating cooperatives.” When you join a group (especially a group such as “credit union professionals” or “credit union hub” on LinkedIn), you have the opportunity to start and share in discussions with you credit union colleagues and with the community. (it all depends on what group you are in!)

You never know what you can gain. Groups give you the ability to give and to receive. I recommend you do both.  Not only is there a possibility of gaining knowledge from other credit union professionals but you have the chance to give something back to when you add to the discussion.

Stay informed. Keep up to date with what is going on in the credit union space. Do you have the opportunity to do this through CUNA newsletters and Credit Union Times? Sure! But the thing about social media is you get your information immediately. You don’t have to wait for next month’s (or next week’s) issue to come out to find the latest.

Catch trends as they are happening, not after. If social media does anything, it is catching trends before they are happening and as they are happening. When you are participating actively in a group for your community, you can see where the pain points are and where your credit union can step in and help. You can help your credit union stay connected to community concerns and know which products and services to advertise.

So go ahead, search out some credit union groups and some community groups. Get active, get involved and connect!

You're Linked, I'm Linked, We're All LinkedIn

Now that you are aware that you, as a credit union marketer and business developer should have a LinkedIn account, what’s next? How does a credit union marketer use LinkedIn to help their credit union?

As I mentioned earlier, credit unions attract some great people- credit union professionals are usually friendly, sociable and smart. That being said, you tend to make friends pretty easily. In his book “How to really use LinkedIn” Jan Vanmeiran lays out the technical aspects of how you can use LinkedIn to connect with others you have met and some that you haven’t.
According to Jan, it is all about the 2nd connection network. Your first connections are the people that you already know; those that are already “linked” to you. If you have been on LinkedIn, you’ll notice that LinkedIn will often “suggest people you might know.” These people are 2nd or 3rd connections that are linked to your first connections.

So, back to how a credit union marketer or business development officer like yourself can use LinkedIn to increase your SEG base and community charters. You want to approach company X to garner their interest in linking to your credit union but you just can’t get past the gatekeeper (we hear about this from credit unions of all sizes quite often). Credit Union marketers should be using LinkedIn to connect to the people they need to talk to through the people they already know in their network.

There is a search option on LinkedIn as well as an advanced search option. Click on the advanced search option and type in the company as well as the department or title of the person you are looking to talk to and their location information. Make sure you indicate you want CURRENT employees.

The search will pull up everyone in that company that is on LinkedIn and related to that company and the position/title you listed. From there, you can see whether or not this person is a 2nd or 3rd connection. What you are looking for is a 2nd connection; LinkedIn will show you who you know that knows the person you are trying to get in touch with. Now, depending on how well you might know that person, all you have to do is give them a call (I would suggest calling them if you know them well) or shooting them an e-mail and ask them to make an introduction; either through LinkedIn, e-mail or even in person.

Jan drives home the point that “you never know who your network knows” and LinkedIn is the window that gives you a view into your network’s network. Use it. Give your credit union colleagues a chance to live out one of their seven principles: Cooperation among cooperatives.