Today's LinkedIn Nugget

De-commoditize your #LinkedIn profile

vote-146962_1280 (1)The discussion at my networking group the other day seemed to involve the word “de-commoditize.”

The tax lawyer started it, speaking about recent cases he undertook that made the difference for clients, by virtue of choosing him based on certain skills and attributes he uniquely brings to the proverbial table. Indeed his capabilities won the day. Isn’t that what it’s all about??

Around the table we went, and there was a theme emerging: in the next elevator pitches we seemed to build upon previous ones, describing (briefly) how each member possesses unique, earned abilities and anecdotal evidence of such. Not commoditized speeches, but customized short stories, much more memorable.for referrals: another goal.

We must come across honest, self-assured, that we can make the difference for the client, based on our experience, as we clearly self-describe it. Always a work in progress.

Yet I continue to see LinkedIn profile cheat sheets offered by big inbound marketing  companies and a proliferation of same-old-same-old articles on “10 minutes to make LinkedIn amazing” or such.

Not quite. I fear these snap, easy fixes drive some of you into homogenizing your LinkedIn voice, format and style, one sounding much like the other readers of the same how-to article, employing the fastest/easiest ways out, as suggested by those authors.

These are mass market tactics, not personal strategies…

Answer honestly to yourself:

  • Did your commoditized profile material squelch your conscious need to demonstrate your personalization and differentiation?
  • Is your profile looking templated, or have you truly spent the time thinking, delving deep into “why you” and explaining your freshness, your uniqueness well?
  • Did the result make you truly proud of how it conveys the real you, or did you just make a step-wise improvement?
  • You may have “said” some things in your LinkedIn profile, but (big but) did you create something memorable and recommendable?
  • Have you made a valiant effort to self-brand, much better than your competitor?

Rise above being like a commodity. No one buys generic products anymore.

Today's LinkedIn Nugget

Talking out loud on #LinkedIn

opinionI am on an early train to the city. It’s characteristically quiet as everyone is either immersed deeply into their smartphones, or asleep. But one guy is talking, loudly enough in his phone conversation for all of us to have to listen in on his problems: about his girlfriend, his job and his mother. Passengers’ eyes roll. Some gesture to him to take the call elsewhere, to no avail. He needs to vent. Although the wrong place to do so, someone he trusts must be coaching him on the other end as he pours his heart out.

The metaphor here is that most people struggle to compose their LinkedIn profile, portraying their professional life, writing in a vacuum, but not listening to how they come across. They need others’ input to express their “why” best.

As your free piece of LinkedIn advice for the day, consider these suggestions:

  • Whatever you write, read it back to yourself out loud: would you buy from you, based on what you read?
  • Use spell check and grammar check that comes with your word processing software, but that’s not enough!
  • While listening to yourself read, fix any remaining typos (like “form” and “form” as I usually have to correct), clean up vague wording, all towards making your writing  the best you can do, alone.
  • Then send your draft to a colleague or two or three, and ask them: does this really capsulize “why I do what I do”?
  • Then take their comments and criticism to heart. If they are real friends they will spend the time to make suggestions and point out where you can improve. Thank them. Offer to reciprocate.
  • Then finalize the draft, put it down and come back to it at the most creative time you have the next day. Refinements made, copy and paste it into your LinkedIn profile.
  • As a final step in this process, let all your connections know you revised your profile and ask what they think, all via a short Profile Update. Co-opt their responses into your organic profile. Keep making changes as you see fit. Keep making it better.

The end result: a much more meaningful and explanatory narrative that makes the reader find you more interesting to consider as a business partner, and contact you to offer an opportunity.

Yes, folks, this works.

Today's LinkedIn Nugget

Public displays of attention on #LinkedIn

connectreq1

Your public profile on LinkedIn is open to all to see.

All the reader has to do is google you and click on the search result for you on LinkedIn, appearing up towards the top, if not at the very top:

 

googleme

To adjust what the public can and cannot see, you are in control. Signed into LinkedIn using your ID and PW (since only you can change this) go to the URL https://www.linkedin.com/public-profile/settings?trk=profile-preview-settings-button and you will see your public profile. Under Customize Your Public Profile, to the top right, a series of vertical check boxes allow you to check or uncheck the sections of your full profile you want the public to see:

customizepublicprofile

Job seekers are often concerned about the degree to which recruiters and interviewers can see their profiles. The debate is: how much is too little and how much is too much?

This is also the perfect place to adjust the detail about you is portrayed to people you are not connected with. Caution: be selective yet not too restrictive.

Pretty easy to do this, once you know where to look. You can always adjust this later, as your situation changes.

Today's LinkedIn Nugget

New dogs/old dogs; new tricks

photographerMany of us never learned self-marketing in college, grad school or in corporate positions. Then, thrust into our own companies and firms, we suddenly had to fill the void, that marketing and branding job to make us better known and recognized. Then the object becomes to be admired and referred.

Without launching into my usual encouragement for you to self-brand and self-market (you have reads that before in this blog), this article, aimed at photographers, yields important lessons for us all:

Quotes from the article:

“If you’re a professional photographer, 80 percent of your time is dedicated to business, marketing and education,” … “And the other 20 percent is the actual photography.” (I suggest you insert your own profession instead of “photographer.”)

“It is about being professional, about setting yourself apart, about being memorable…”

Enjoy and employ.

Today's LinkedIn Nugget

Retirement benefits using #LinkedIn

I am of the age now that some of my contemporary colleagues are beginning to retire. Some voluntarily. Some being pushed out. Some wanting to transition from one career to an encore career: nonprofit work, SCORE mentor, other service.

No matter, after 35 to 40 years of experience in your field, you have much to offer others. You have learned many tried-and-true lessons throughout the years, culminating in this digital age. You want to help others at earlier stages in their careers? You have a need to give back? Great!

But how do you

1. find these volunteer positions and

2. where can you express your unique experienced POV?

The answers:

  1. Sign up to offer to serve as a pro-bono expert with an organization in your area that could benefit from your help. See https://volunteer.linkedin.com.
  2. Contribute:

a.   Via long-form Posts: essays of your observations, perhaps titled “What I learned in…” or “How I helped others…” If the title and the narrative are compelling, readers will share and comment.

b.   Also place a line of your opinion above the URL of articles you read and share with your connections.Why is this article meaningful?

c.  Do the same when you offer the relevant article to a LinkedIn group and/or answer questions in that group that other pose.

Don’t make retirement the last solitary stop on the career journey. Make it one more station along the way, bringing others with you, enriching them with ideas, experience, and help.

Today's LinkedIn Nugget

Hmmm, that name’s familiar

thatwasgoodA colleague kindly e-introduced me to another and suggested we speak. She perceived synergies in what we do.

That name. Familiar.

So I looked her up on LinkedIn. Yes, we had met previously via a mutual colleague (different one than first one I mentioned). Not yet connected, but I saw she has a number of mutual connections with me.

That set my memory clicking and I noodled it out. I realized the context and who brought us together the first time.

I emailed her to set up the phone call and mentioned that time and name in particular in which I believed we had brought together originally.

The call is set for Friday. I already have warmed it up, using the tools at my side.

You can, and should, do this too.

Today's LinkedIn Nugget

Why endorsements are political on #LinkedIn

Endorsements seem to be newsworthy these days. Just in case you are actively managing who endorsed you (and you MUST on LinkedIn), here’s an excerpt from my upcoming book (to be published by the American Bar Association in the fall):

Endorsements by people who do not have direct experience with your skill, despite the fact they endorsed you with good intention or out of carelessness, need to be edited out. Again no worries, losing their endorsement is not an issue since they can neither help describe your skills anyhow nor assist you in being in the search results. Besides, LinkedIn does not notify them you deleted their endorsement…

Yes, it takes effort to cull out endorsers who are not appropriate. But it is a worthwhile investment that may take some bulk time initially but will be far less time-consuming as you keep up with this housecleaning chore.

Why is this important? For attorneys: be sure to remove any endorsements that are not factual as this can be perceived as failure to keep up with them may contravene ethics rules under your bar association guidelines. Why else?

Suppose I need a referral of a trusted financial advisor for baby boomers with older parents. You are one of those financial advisors, and I may know you from a brief meeting at a chamber event. Another day I am meeting with Carolyn, who has already endorsed you for your skills in Eldercare Financial Planning, and I explain why I need her input on the short list of quality candidates. Ahead of my conversation I did my homework and see you and she are mutual LinkedIn connections. I delved further in your profile and I saw she endorsed you for a skill in Eldercare Financial Planning. I ask her during my meeting how she knows your skill in that area. She stammers, then with some embarrassment admits she has no experience with you in that skill area.

How do you look?

How does she feel?

What do I think of you both now, especially you?

Have I wasted my time?

Uh oh, your work requires you to be thorough. Your brand is to be reliable and have an eye out for possible technical (tax, legal, documentary) roadblocks and to be able to react to new financial opportunities.

But your LinkedIn profile is out of synch with your brand. You missed something. I think to myself: that if you are not very complete, missing details in your own profile, how will you handle my financial details in a complex financial situation? Will you skip over something that might cause problems down the road?

Farfetched? No, not really. I hear real stories like this frequently and it’s uncomfortable for all involved. No one wants to feel embarrassed. Worse, you allowed an endorsement from someone with no real experience with your skill in that area, and your pristine reputation is now spotty in my view. Your mistake or not, I may no longer consider you and move along to someone else. It is best not to allow yourself to be placed in such a situation especially since it’s quick and easy to fix an errant endorsement before it gets noticed. Negative perceptions can be long term.

Before you allow just anybody on the podium to endorse you, be sure they can do so in earnest. Or get booed…

Today's LinkedIn Nugget

On #LinkedIn: plagiarism is death for your brand

dontMy (self-appointed) job is to opine on LinkedIn topics as they  expose themselves to me in my real life. I could not help but reflect on the latest news of “borrowed” material, as it has a definite LinkedIn lesson: Be original in your brand, always, every phrase, throughout!

When I taught in the university setting, instructors had a very sophisticated online tool to pass all written student material through to expose any 3 or more word phrases lifted from any published sources.

Often it was unintentional and became a teaching opportunity to attribute the source of another’s thought.

More than once it was deliberate, to merrily skip by the rules and hope the professor would not notice.

Once it was an entire paper, reused multiple times all over the world in other classrooms, and after consultation with the dean, resulted in a zero in my class, the student denied it (c’mon!) then he dropped out and I am certain went elsewhere to play similar games, as some just never expect THEY would be found out.

From time to time I get a frustrated message from a LinkedIn client advising me that someone has lifted/plagiarized his or her material. The scoundrel is using it as if it were their original thought. The client worked hard and deep to come up with self-defining narrative to portray their original, unique brand message. The “borrower” (not ever intending to return anything) passes it off as his or her own.

The originator feels violated. The brands of both suffer. Worse: the credibility, maturity and professionalism of the plagiarist ceases to have any value. The originator can call the plagiarist down, using LinkedIn as the intermediary. It’s a violation of professionalism that we enjoy in the value we rely on from LinkedIn.

So from the news headlines, to the classroom, to the LinkedIn profile, the moral of the story is: just don’t plagiarize! You will be exposed, it will not be pretty, you will have to retract, and you deserve to suffer the consequences.

Today's LinkedIn Nugget

Playing to the audience on #LinkedIn

audience1A colleague asked me to take a quick glance at his profile since he is in transition. Since we were already connected, I reviewed his personal profile (you know the difference between personal and public profiles, right?).

I noticed some spacing errors in his Experience section that he could not see. So I suggested he look at the same screen I was looking at, not by sharing screens with a third-party app, but by his looking on LinkedIn to see what his personal connections see on his profile (in this case what I see on his profile).

How?

Using my personal profile for you to get this process down, as an example, I searched for my name and opened my profile. Using this as a proxy, I asked him to do the same on his computer and this is similar to what he saw of his profile (only with his information):

mebubble

Click the blue “View profile as” button (not the downward pointing arrow). You see on the next screen:

viewprofileconnectionspublic.jpg

In the top section above your name (I added the red outline for emphasis), superimposed over your top banner if you have one, by toggling the drop-down box between what your connections see and what the public sees, you can catch spacing errors and other errors on your LinkedIn Profile before others tell you about them, (many will not and move on, a lost opportunity).

This was quite eye-opening to him and he fixed the spacing errors that were invisible to him before knowing this technique. Now you know too.

Today's LinkedIn Nugget

Showing your roots on #LinkedIn

roots.jpgThose of us in our 40’s and older have experience in previous decades / technologies / products / services  that may not be directly applicable to our present work.

Life is a journey; that may also mean you held a series of jobs in that antiquated field with no real immediately-obvious benefit to discussing them in your LinkedIn profile (unless a recommendation from a  former colleague in that period is so outstanding).

The dilemma is to show your entire years of experience without boring the reader. You don’t want to leave out any period of time as that makes the reader’s mind wander, and that’s not what you want.

The remedy? Collapse a number of previous century jobs into a generic, functional listing on your profile and concentrate your comments on why and how this experience contributed to the next (detailed) positions you held. Better, its applicability to today’s work.

Well, c’mon Marc, you say, you don’t do that. Yes, I am aware I am suggesting something to you that I do not practice. That’s because my old corporate treasury experience directly influences the cash-flow orientation I bring to my e-payment services (my other career),

It’s your choice how to present it. And my job to suggest an alternative. BUT IF your old experience is nothing like what your present work is, (and that’s increasingly common these days), make the oldest job position in your Experience section a functional one. keep showing why you do what you do.