Five months into sales recruiting, after 18 years in software sales, I’ve come to appreciate the well-crafted and lovingly-polished LinkedIn profile. I also now realize that until recently I was approaching my own profile all wrong.
From the vantage point of conducting 30-50 phone screenings per week and perusing thousands of LinkedIn profiles, I’ve discovered four common and misguided approaches to building a profile that could be impacting you negatively. I address these mistakes below, and then give you a week of tips for correcting them. I suggest spending 15-30 minutes on each new item (excluding the narrative (day 3) which you should spend 3 hours to 3 days on), one per day, In one week LinkedIn may very well be working for you in ways you’ve never seen.
Let’s kick-off a week of self-improvement and self-investment by considering how you might be viewing LinkedIn.
Mistake #1: Viewing your LinkedIn profile as a necessary evil
If you’re limiting your profile (specifically, the last 10 years) to company name and dates of tenure with no details, accolades, or endorsements, and maybe not even a picture, you are advertising your view that LinkedIn is a hoop that needs to be jumped through and no more. Even worse, a profile like this could potentially signal to the world that you don’t understand the power of social media. If you don’t care and/or invest in your profile, it will be difficult to have others moved by it as well.
Mistake #2: Writing for a single audience
It’s important to keep in mind you’ve got multiple audiences looking at your profile all the time. All too often, I see profiles that are geared exclusively towards one of the following:
- Prospects/Partners: You’re trying to book meetings. That’s it. Your profile reads like an advertisement for the company you currently work for and nothing else. Maybe you’ve even copied and pasted text from your company’s website into your profile, the same text people see when they click on the company logo. A profile like this neglects to display any evidence of who you are, why you were chosen for that role and that you are/have been good at your job.
- Potential Employers: You’ve written your entire LinkedIn profile like you’re trying to find a new job, stating every performance detail and boasting at what an aggressive ankle biter you are. A profile like this doesn’t exactly paint you as approachable to prospects. Besides wondering how long you’ll be around at Company X, potential customers may end up feeling like potential conquests.
- The Mystery Audience: Blurry photos, sunglasses, crazy hats, more hobbies than skills, meandering (at best) narratives, grammatical nightmares. Profiles that read like part Facebook page, part hastily-written term paper. These always leave me scratching my head. LinkedIn is where we represent ourselves in the professional world. But publish an unfocused and sloppy profile and either you are throwing the dice on people ever taking a meeting with you/wanting you to interview or you just you don’t care (but, I know you really do).
Mistake #3: Neglecting to tell a good story
We’re salespeople. The best of us think and sell in stories, and yet, when it’s time to sell ourselves, whether to our prospects, potential employers, or the world, we get either overly bashful or intensely arrogant. While we’ve carried different business cards and responsibilities for our careers, those jobs really tell very little about who we are as people. Anyone turning to your profile wants to know this.
Mistake #4: Waiting until you NEED to make changes to your profile
The hardest time to remember how good we can be/have been is when we’ve hit a rut. If you’ve neglected your profile and you find yourself without a job and or needing to find a new one, you may find yourself having less-than expected conversations and subsequently equating yourself to what others see in your profile: either a sub-par representation of who you are, or someone who doesn’t really care (and again, I know you do).
All of these views can really inhibit opportunity, so let’s get to action.
On each of the next 7 days (released daily), I encourage you to tackle one aspect of your LinkedIn profile, as listed below. Together they address the mistakes I’ve described above. Before making any changes, make sure to go stealth on profile changes. *
The wrap: I know you care about your career. You have been blessed to represent organizations that pay you (often great money) to play some very fun games, work with terrific people and help others. Honor that. Represent.
- Day 1/7: Your Profile Picture
- Day 2/7: Get Your Dates Right
- Day 3/7: Your Narrative
- Day 4/7: Re-consider That Title You Love
- Day 5/7: Demonstrating Performance Without Turning Off Prospects
- Day 6/7: Validating Your Character: Endorsements and Special Facts
- Day 7/7: The Not-So-Pretty Stuff: Hard Times and How to Handle Them