By Mark Ruthenberg, with Samuel L Travis
You may THINK YOU DON’T NEED a good LinkedIn profile, because “you have a job”. In that case, you are wrong! People are judging you and your company all the time, and assessing which group of people can provide the best products and service possible. They can very quickly compare and contrast online. IN SECONDS.
People are no longer getting together for a coffee, nor are they taking a three-martini lunch to get to know you, awaiting a proposal, and only then deciding to some “due diligence”.
In today’s online world:
- People are too busy
- There are too many good resources online, and
- Someone younger, faster, or sharper than you (or all three) trying to “be disruptive”.
Your clients (or those you thought should still be your clients) are going online and finding better solutions online. And they are finding or creating their own teams of people each with more talent, and even more experience. OR JUST PLAIN FINDING THEM (and not you) based on their search terms.
And if you are not contributing to your company’s success, you are holding them back. Arguably, your company should devote resources to helping clients to evaluate the caliber of talent they have. And, typically, their website either (1) doesn’t have mention at all of its talent depth, (2) has info summarized too much (on ill-informed advice of the web designer), or (3) doesn’t keep the information up to date. LinkedIn is a flexible and cost-effective alternative method.
Why you should think like “Moneyball”
Think of MONEYBALL (the movie), and apply it to your industry. In the movie the characters (played by Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill) did a lot of quantitative analysis, to determine the factors that define a winning baseball team. They figured out which factors help win individual games, and with enough wins, can lead to a league championship. And, instead of spending like crazy on old-school all-round big-name talent, they figured out how to do it with the least amount of money, by paying only for the factors that mattered.
What is the VERY LEAST you need to do?
Over the years (and very recently), we’ve seen some sadly deficient, and SOME ACTUALLY PATHETIC PROFILES on LinkedIn.
Here, we are assuming the worst of the worst, and what is needed so that they look “passable” and not “pathetic”. If you are already better than the “worst,” then you have far less work to do to meet this low–but do-able–threshold.
1) If your LinkedIn profile has only your current position, you need to reveal more of your past.
Yes, one position maybe all it REQUIRES to start your profile, but that doesn’t give others any insight into your experience, or any interdisciplinary skills you might apply to their problem(s).
That’s why being a waiter, retail clerk, or landscaper before your university degree should often be kept on. And if you had a professional career before retraining prior to the LAST oil price “blip”, that should ABSOLUTELY be mentioned now.
Review and enumerate the skills you really acquired there. When you waitered, you may have thought you were just “serving food.” Now hindsight tells you (for example), that you were important in building customer relationships, you learned to up-sell, and you were organizing for efficiency.
2) If your LinkedIn profile does not have a photo of you, add one now! Even if you have a horrible disfigurement, or if you are currently in the process of losing weight (you can update it later!). I know several disfigured people who have great successful careers as motivational speakers, so even that should not limit you.
It should be a head shot, not a full body photo. At most, from the shirt pocket up. And women: no bare shoulders. You will look naked (and most men will imagine you that way…it’s instinctive, don’t blame them), so find another photo, or re-shoot it. Look happy and confident, unless “sad” or “angry” or “stiff” will land you more customers (if you are a debt collector, maybe)
3) If your LinkedIn profile does not mention any courses, certifications, and university degrees you have earned, add them in now!
You never know which one is the one that a fussy client may be looking for to have you and your boss provide their perfect solution. And don’t just mention the school, and when, but any special courses, clubs, awards, or scholarships. Make your education special and distinct from every other student’s.
4) If you haven’t checked your profile, your messages, and your connection requests in a year, you should come back at least once a week. Even, if JUST TO LOOK.
You should really consider adding more connections, to build your network. Yes, include people who are your competitors, your clients, and your mentors. You never know where your next project, your next job, or even your next career may come from.
There is A LOT MORE that can be done to spruce up your profile, but this is a start. Just so you don’t look like you don’t care.
If you are a guy, would you purposefully show up for a job interview with a ketchup stained white shirt, untucked, or your tie crooked? If you’re a woman, would you show up with torn pantyhose, your false eyelashes loose on one side, or your lipstick smudged?
Don’t do the LinkedIn equivalent!
If you cannot take the time (or the money) to make your LinkedIn profile look amazing (or at least as amazing as your work history and track record can help you look), at least make sure your profile doesn’t make you look “pathetic”.
That’s not a high bar, and you will see results from these changes, which may motivate you to raise your personal bar a little higher.
Why this all makes sense
I (Mark Ruthenberg) have been helping spruce up people’s resumes, their LinkedIn profiles, and their online presences for over fifteen years. My partner Samuel Travis has been doing that since 1980 (so, 37 years). It used to be we’d help people just when they were looking for a job after they were fired or a laid-off. There were a lot of those situations 2 or 3 years ago. Now we are helping people spruce up their profiles to PREVENT THEM from being fired or laid-off.
Other things we help with
I’m also helping younger people BURY SKELETONS, and remove content in their Social Media history (and if necessary, bury content with favourable information) that is now turning out to be an embarrassment (I’m not judging – I’m just doing what the client wants done).
I’m also helping others (typically older clients) create an online reputation where none has existed. It’s not that you don’t already have or deserve “a reputation.” But, if it doesn’t exist on line, many people are clueless as to how to verify it. Not everybody appreciated Social Media and/or LinkedIn earlier (“it’s a fad”). A decade later, everyone realizes it’s not going away, it’s become really important, and it’s a critical tool you can use for your own personal and business advantage.
These days, these two services are often called “online reputation management”
You’ve been around longer than Facebook and longer than LinkedIn, why not make it LOOK LIKE THAT? Reference checkers like to see the same details of the same story repeated around then internet as a digital form of verification. Give them that assurance to get the meeting. And, yes, they’ll call to actually check references after a good interview or meeting.
You can follow all of the above steps, and get pretty good results. But it’s the first part of a larger process, that includes either a “Career Transition” or an “Executive Coaching” path. We are always happy to help out.
This is Article ONE in a one-a-month series of THREE.
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