LinkedIn – Pick Your Voice and Stick With It

coffee house conversationWriting your LinkedIn profile can be a little intimidating. After all you have 2,000 characters to convey who you are, what you do and why someone would want to connect to you.

No pressure there.

Then there are all sorts of tips, tidbits, articles and training on how to write the best profile, including summary, to accomplish these goals.

It does not help that many are contradictory.

Not really helping to alleviate that pressure, now is it?

The best way I can describe the voice and feel of the summary is this:

Think about sitting across from your ideal audience at a foo-foo coffee shop on one of those big fluffy chairs and they asked you, “So, tell me about yourself”

How would you answer that question in that environment? The environment is relaxed, but at its core still business.

Your answer is your summary.

Picture yourself in that situation. Now, to help facilitate the creative juices and help you get a start on that summary, let me offer just a few quick tips on answering that question:

This is not your resume

In a normal conversation you would not reply, “Well, I am a business professional with over 20 years’ B2B and Sales experience leading and blah, blah, blah”. Let’s be honest, no one really talks like that in face to face conversations. That language and style is best suited for your resume.

Answer that question out loud. Practice, just like you would a sales pitch, elevator speech or interview. Practice out loud to see how it sounds. If it sounds like you are reading from a cue card then it is too closely related to your resume.

Be authentic

If someone is reading your summary, they are looking for insight into you – not the resume you, the real business you. Use words that represent you. If you are a passionate, driven go getter then you should use words that reflect that and create that image in their mind. If you are a behind the scenes, quite in your box kind of person then using dynamic, over-reaching words will be completely contradictory to who you are and come across forced, unnatural and uninviting.

Be creative

One of the great things about your summary and the style in which you write it is that you can infuse your personality, passions, hobbies – things that mean something to you – and tie them into your business value. I have a client that is in charge of IT for a school system. A little dry and boring; however, he is also an umpire for college baseball. Aha! We created a profile from a baseball perspective and used statements and concepts like the three strikes you want to avoid, preparing for the big show etc. We gently and sparingly sprinkled these references in to give it personality while absolutely showcasing his value.

Not too cute

Given the above, I do need to advise not to get too cutesy with it. A little creativity goes a long way, no need to beat them over the head with it. It is similar to Tabasco sauce. My son loves that stuff and puts it on and in everything. A little bit enhances the food; a lot burns your mouth.

Demonstrating not selling

This is a conversation, not a sales pitch. Relax. Simply tell the other person what you do by explaining the value of what you do and demonstrating it in describing how you do it and who you serve. It is perfectly fine to suggest they contact you or reach out, but again, let’s not beat them over the head with it. How would you suggest in a conversation that they call you if they need your services or want to talk further? Incorporate that into your summary for a much more authentic, natural progression.

Pick your voice and stick with it

You are speaking directly to your audience, having a one on one conversation. When you speak to someone directly you use “I”, “me” and “my”. You do not speak of yourself in third person. Speaking about yourself in third person makes you sound like that guy at the party. Don’t be that guy.

Also, if you are going to use “we” be careful and be sure to set it up, please. If you are a leader, then speaking about your teams, their value and accomplishments will easily lead into something like “…together, we elevate the client experience.”

I read a profile of an individual that started talking in first person, switched to “me”, went to “we” and ended with “I”. Me, I and we were all confused by the end.
Get yourself situation in that foo-foo coffee house, take some time to think about how you would answer that question and play with it a little bit. Tweak it from time to time to see what feels right to you. Let the creation of your summary flow naturally for you and you will find that it will engage the right audience.

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