It has almost become a little fashionable to say’ ‘I don’t use social media’ as if somehow it adds to one’s kudos and given its bad press, that’s not entirely surprising. Nevertheless, when business owners make such a retort frankly, it’s absurd. I sat in a vegan restaurant just two days ago listening to a nutritionist fresh in from Tanzania, advising me of just that. He visibly bulked! In 2020? It got me wondering whether some of that rejection was to do with other things? It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve heard someone say they hate filling in the form, worried about the quality of their writing and those obscure grammatical rules we can never quite grasp. Then there’s the writing about ourselves when at that precise moment we can’t remember a damn thing? Not to mention the monitoring of social media each day? Perhaps it feels so overwhelming it is perceived as an utter waste of precious time.
Of course, some social media platforms serve us better than others but LinkedIn, launched May 5, 2003, has already been around for 18 years. It is to business what Facebook is to the social though it also contrasts itself with Amazon for its emphasis upon sales and engagement. With over 600 million LinkedIn profiles, it has long been the front-runner and go-to-place for most B2B and major employers thus, for corporate and other ‘professional’ positions, it matters. Eventually, LinkedIn wants to create a job for everyone in the workforce, that’s 3 billion workers including construction, retail cashiers, fast food and other blue-collar type jobs. It’s not going away anytime soon and anecdotally, I’m told time and again, some employers will not even look at you if you don’t have a LinkedIn account. Admittedly, some businesses trade from being so exclusive you can’t see them but in the main, going to market is about making yourself visible and one would not choose a backyard in preference for a busy high street, or the isolated corner of a networking room where nobody knows you are there. In that sense, my man from Tanzania is wasting more time than he can imagine.
Yet, those that do use LinkedIn are not maximising their potential. In person we are conscious of looking good so nowadays, relatively fit, healthy and well dressed. The $3 trillion global fashion and the $4.2 trillion global health and wellness industries, would certainly testify to that. But when completing our LinkedIn profiles, a similar connection is not made. In a tick-box exercise, most are either completed poorly or only partially, relieved to have filled in the bare basics. In fact, we seem to be using LinkedIn like a traditional mundane resume, and this is a mistake.
- Review your reasons for completing a LinkedIn profile and look again at whether you have fairly represented yourself and your brand.
- Did you just create a LinkedIn account because someone advised you for reasons you’re still unclear?
- Is there a reason for someone to pass by and stop when they read your profile and what would that reason be?
Differences between how we dress for business and how we write for the same is a matter of style and confidence. Writing about ourselves can feel so awkward, we minimise it. It demands more than finding a new set of clothes that we can probably buy online if we don’t like shopping anyway. With our chosen attire for an event, good or bad, we may expect almost an immediate response. A skim across a room will probably be met with approval or disapproving glances even without that proverbial blink of an eye. Regardless, you might still reassure yourself that once they hear your pièce de résistance pitch, or your highly sophisticated social skills, you’ll be fine.
Writing is something different. It’s personal, an intimate endeavour yet no matter what you write and put out there, you cannot take it back. Your writing is subject to public scrutiny exposed to all and sundry. Worse, it entitles you to no response at all. You must give it away as a gift to the reader who is then allowed to embrace or discard your words with utter laughter or serious thought but always without returning to the writer. No wonder it invokes hesitation and fear of damaging you and your brand the moment your fingers touch the keyboard. The problem is, such care is squeezing the joy out of reading your profile which tends to read as if you are trying to blend into the crowd instead of rising above it?
Your physical appearance and your verbal elasticity still need to be consistent with your profiles no matter what your stage of business. A lack of consistency risks a lack of trust in you. The mind says, ‘who are you, really?’
I don’t want to suggest the obvious things such as having the right picture but? The difference between someone who looks confident in a picture and someone who doesn’t is huge.
- Have a look at other profiles and notice the clearness of those you like and why. Probably there will be a plain or white background that doesn’t compete with their face. Probably, they will be looking straight at you with a smile. Probably their look will give the appearance of openness, not defensiveness. When one leans back away from the frame this translates into withdrawal or uncertainty and once more, a lack of trust. If you’re not confident in yourself, why should anyone else be? It’s true. A picture paints……
- Write with more humanness – let us know your story, at least a little so that your brand relates to something real to invoke a little emotion. Despite what you think a business culture is, notice that you relate to the personality in others as well as, in their brands.
- Of course, you must show off but think about who you are talking to. Be charming, exciting from a position not of selling but of trying to solve a problem. If you’re not in the business of solving problems?
- After opening a personal account with LinkedIn, open a business page and join your business community. Did you know there was a business page in LinkedIn?
- Be active. Go onto the offensive and positively engage
- Write like you dress!