Your brand is the perception you create for the way you want others to think of you. LinkedIn is a powerful tool to help crate, substantiate, communicate and further your brand. The sheer number of members of LinkedIn points to its power, as of the third quarter 2016, LinkedIn had 467 million members – with an increase of 17 million members from the previous quarter (Statica).
Brand is critical in your career. Your brand not only includes the skills, talents, value and capabilities you bring to the table, it also communicates how you will fit in with a company’s culture. According to a Forbes article, 89% of hiring failures are due to poor cultural fit.
That equates to a lot of wasted time and money invested by organizations. Perhaps that is why it has been noted that 94% of recruiters use LinkedIn to vet candidates (DMR, 2013) and 87% of recruiters use LinkedIn as part of their process (Adweek, 2015).
Brand is important, your brand on LinkedIn is critical, this is why these five things could be killing your brand.
You are faceless without a profile picture and damage your brand with the wrong picture.
Remember the old adage, “A picture is worth a thousand words”? Your picture should reflect the brand you are creating. This is about you so no group photos. This is professional so no friends, family or pets unless it ties directly to your brand. No Facebook selfies.
Think of the image you want to project and incorporate a few guidelines: your picture should be clear, with you as the main focal point, be current and you should look approachable. In other words, smile. Not the cheesy or forced smile, but a genuine smile. Here is a little trick – have whomever is taking your picture get you to laugh, not a belly laugh, but a can’t-help-but-smile chuckle. That will be the genuine you.
If your title is boring, confusing, silly or desperate, it is killing your brand.
It is easy to stick with the default of your title and current company, however, that is not brand driven. It is boring. Your title does not convey value, sometimes it creates confusion. If your title is Associate Manager – what does that mean? No one will reach out to get clarification.
Putting in ‘creative’ muses such as “Wizard of any skill” is silly and a bit too flippant and probably not the business brand you want to create. Overly stressing you really, really need a job comes across as desperate, i.e. “Seeking new opportunities to immediately bring value”.
Value is key and to incorporate value tell your audience what you do for whom and how that makes their life better from a business perspective.
Instead of “Account Representative at Company Name” try something like “Transforming Accounts to Alliances Through Exceptional Customer Care at Company Name”. Value is the key.
You have 120 characters to work with so take advantage of that. The previous example is 84 characters, you could even go a bit more: “Transforming Accounts to Alliances which Propel Profitability by Delivering Exceptional Customer Care at Company Name”. That line is 117 characters.
You can create a headline that combines keywords and short phrases separated by characters like ■ ♦ ◆or ▶ to create interest. Lastly, do not yell at your audience by using all capital letters.
Without a summary you have not brand. With a rambling, incoherent word filled just to use all 2,000 character third-person narrative you create a brand, but not the one you want.
LinkedIn is a one-on-one conversation with the person you want to read your profile. Think back to writing a term paper. The first paragraph tells them what you are going to tell them and the body tells them just that. Your headline is like that first paragraph and the summary is the body of the paper.
Tell your story, from your brand perspective of who do you help, how do you help them and how do you do it in a way that is different/better/unique than anyone else? Thank about what you do and why you do it, what drives you?
Think about sitting down at a foo-foo coffee house with someone from your desired audience and they ask the “tell me about yourself” question – how would you answer in this business, casual one-on-one conversation? You certainly would not start with “I am a professional XYZ with 20 years’ experience” because no one talks like that in real life conversations.
Be clear, be yourself and do not rely filling your summary with empty words: things like highly accomplished, highly adaptable, strong business sense, effective communicator or proven track record. You may be one or all of those things, but those alone mean nothing. Also, those jammed into one or two sentences is overpowering. Demonstrate, do not merely state. If you have a proven track record then by all means, tell them what it is, and by the way, if it is proven, you do not have to say it is proven.
Replace your go to buzzwords by answering “how”. How are you highly adaptable, how are you highly accomplished, how do you have a strong business sense? When you answer the questions, the buzzwords are no longer necessary because you have demonstrated rather than merely stating.
You are allowed 2,000 characters, but that does not mean you have to use them all. Having a clear message and plenty of white space is preferred to a character filled ramble.
Lastly, incorporate a keyword section in the end to mesh your brand with industry important keywords, this helps not only the affiliation of the two, but makes you more searchable on LinkedIn. End your summary with a call to action – invite them to connect or contact you and give your information.
Not providing a background or only limiting it to titles, companies and years takes away from your brand.
Often throughout our careers we have different twists and turns that make no sense whatsoever at the time. However eventually we see that each step added value to where we are now and where we want to go.
Look at where you want to go (or if you are there – where you are) and identify the most important elements of how you provide value meeting what is most important to your industry, company or clients. These are now the parameters to write – or rewrite – your experience.
For example, if collaboration is a critical success factor, go back through your history and think about times you demonstrated the ability to lead collaboration or participated to deliver a result. Use what you want to define your past to fill it in for a complete profile.
If you have not touched your profile since you created it or avoid interacting on LinkedIn often, you are damaging your brand.
LinkedIn is an interactive, vital community driven by networking, sharing and connections. If you only update it when you are looking for a job, you are missing a tremendous amount of opportunity. It also triggers to any coworkers or bosses that you are connected to that there might be something up if all of a sudden you start updating and posting a flurry of activity.
One word that used often in this article is value. In LinkedIn world, you increase your value by providing value to others. You do this by connecting, connecting other members, give recommendations, share information, repost articles, join groups, ask opinions and contribute to discussions. Give back to get.
It is not exactly like Samuel Goldwyn’s quote: “The harder I work, the luckier I get”. You do not have to work hard to generate results on LinkedIn, you just have to be consistent, clear and mindful of your brand to see the results you want.
As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career coaching and practice firm, I am an Executive Brand Strategist, Resume Writer and Career Coach. I work with individual clients, companies, leadership and teams to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand, engagement, commitment and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.
I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.
Click here – CareerPolish.com – to find out more about how we can help you.
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