The reason for the fear is the quality that LinkedIn offers: the ability to bring your personality to your profession.
Most people hate writing about themselves, it is uncomfortable. This fact alone has me on the phone talking to people every day. Add to that the fear of sounding pompous, ridiculous or unknowledgeable takes that uncomfortableness to a whole new level; to fear.
I like to say that LinkedIn is the business Facebook to try to plant the seed of the personal touch. This does not mean anyone wants to get updates on what you had for every meal of the day or pictures of the kiddos eating asparagus for the first time. Remember – it is about business.
When you are writing your LinkedIn profile you are in essence having a conversation with the one person reading your profile. This is how it differs from a resume or business biography. Those two things are written with a general audience in mind, but with the reality that you never really know who is going to read it.
Your LinkedIn profile should be more strategic. You want to target your audience so they can find you and then speak to them so you can engage them.
Here are a few tips to help write your profile:
- Figure out your audience. How can you speak to someone if you have not identified who it is you want to talk to? What is important to them, what are key words or phrases they will resonate with or searching for, what are their needs and how do you provide the solutions?
- Speak in the first person. When you write in the third person you run the risk of sounding aloof, disconnected or pompous. I dated a guy once that would speak about himself in third person whenever we had a disagreement, saying things like: “Thor is not happy.” To which I would reply, “I don’t know who Thor is or why he is unhappy, but I’m talking to you.” He sounded ridiculous, don’t be a Thor. And no, I never dated anyone named Thor, I changed his name – you get the point.
- Communicate your value. What is it you want people to know about you? It is your job to tell them. You only have 2,000 characters to paint that picture – use it wisely. This is your story; you can tell it any way that you want. You are not required to give the mundane details.
- Be creative but easy on the cute. This is your opportunity to let your personality shine through; let it – to a degree. Keep it within the professional level. Being too cutesy puts you back into Facebook range. This also applies to your profile picture. Business casual, not Facebook spectacular.
- Keep it positive. I mentioned above that you do not need to give the mundane details; I am going to take a step further and let you know that it is bad form to air the negative details as well. No airing of dirty laundry. Not even an implication. If you were unjustly released from your last position keep it to yourself. This is not the time or place to go into that.
- Not necessarily a call to action. I have written LinkedIn profiles for leadership of organizations that were used to highlight the company and themselves as a leader for recruiting purposes. I have also written them for high level producers setting the bar for their organization. In either of these instances we did not use a call to action at the end, i.e., “connect with me today, email or call me at…” By being engaging and well thought in your message it will be implied that you are open to communication. I have read articles where it has been suggested that you must put a call to action at the end of your profile. I disagree. If it is not comfortable with your message, then do not do it. It is your profile, break the rules.
- Break the rules. I had to add this because I liked it in the last point. You have 2,000 characters for your profile, but guess what – you do not have to use all of them. You have a designated area for a title, but guess what; you do not have to put only your title. You can be creative. For one client, who is the head of all the marketing for her organization we also added “Social Media Geek” at the end of hers. She is fun; she allowed fun in her title and profile. Break the rules, live a little.
Using these seven suggestions will help put you on the right path to create the right message: one that is about you, your value and speaking to the audience you want to engage.
Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW
Certified Professional Resume Writer
Career Coach & Brand Strategist