There is somebody out there talking about you

Whether you know it or not, like it or not, there is someone out there talking about you. They are not making things up – in fact they are only repeating what you have told them. The problem is, you may not have told them enough to create the right impression. Worse still, you may have told them something which is now way out of date but they are still carrying on with a dated impression of you.

That person is not in human form, it is your LinkedIn profile. A surprising number of people have a profile which does not do them justice, even with a considerable number of connections.

“Why does that matter?” you may think. “I’m not actively looking for another job.” It matters because LinkedIn has grown to be far more influential than just a recruiting platform. It is the go-to resource to check someone out, either before or after a meeting. It could be someone in your own organisation, planning a restructure and looking for specific experience or skill set. It could be a potential recruit to your team, considering which of several attractive job offers to accept. It could be a business partner with a referral opportunity or the more often-quoted example of a customer assessing potential suppliers.

Your LinkedIn profile is now a vitally important part of your business presence, and talks about you while you are not there. What do you want it to say? Unlike your own voice, where you can change the message to suit the occasion, you only have one LinkedIn profile to address every situation. It is worth considering how you structure your profile so you make the most of every opportunity.

Just as marketers use imaginary people to “sell to” when planning their campaigns (they call them avatars or personas), you can also create imaginary people reading your profile. Imagine you have your CEO planning a restructure and deciding who would best lead a new team. Next there is the person you have finally selected as the ideal person to join your team after weeks of interviewing. Then there is the CFO of your largest customer, who has just read a compelling proposal from a competitor. They all open your LinkedIn profile and start reading.

Here are a few tips for building a great Summary section, none aimed at recruiters but they wouldn’t harm your chances there either.

  1. Values. What is important to you, what drives you, what enthuses you about the work you do? Particularly if there is a benefit to others.
  2. Relationship style. How do you work with your team, colleagues and business partners?
  3. Credibility. What is your expertise and what are your more significant achievements?
  4. What can you add that would enhance your chances of promotion, recruiting great people and building important business relationships?

Having written your new profile, now “become” one of those imaginary people and read your profile. Would you want to promote, work for or partner with that person based on what you read, not what you already know about yourself? If you can’t do that, your Summary needs some more work.

Some opportunities pass by only once. It would be a real pity to miss them.

Neville Merritt