Last night I was finalising a training course I ran today on Linkedin. I was having a quick look round at people's profiles for good/bad examples – and what I saw shocked me.
First a little bit of background:
In my landmark post 10 Linkedin Tips for Professionals (still showing on page 1 of google for “linkedin tips”!) the very first Linkedin tip I shared was to build what I called a Client Focused profile.
When most people join Linkedin they do one of two things.
After going through the process of telling Linkedin your education and previous jobs you get the chance to create a summary. This is the main thing people will look at when they visit your profile – it's your opportunity to say exactly what you want them to read when they do so. Most people spurn that opportunity.
Either they put nothing in their summary at all, or they essentially copy the text from their resume and talk about the jobs they've had, the responsibilities they've held, the achievements they've made, etc.
It's a huge mistake.
Your achievements and responsibilities may be great for a resume – but are you actually looking for a new job right now? Did you join Linkedin to use it as a place to store your resume for all to see? Probably not.
Most of us aren't looking for a new job most of the time. But we are on the lookout for new clients most of the time.
For the vast majority of professionals, their Linkedin profile summary should be written to give the right impression to potential clients or potential referrers (depending on whether they typically get their work mainly directly, or mainly from referrers).
It's not hard. Figure what impression you want to give to clients and referrers and write to create that impression in your profile.
Perhaps you want to come across as an expert, or someone who's approachable and easy to do business with. Or experienced. Or fun. Or empathetic.
Whatever it is, figure it out. And prove it in what you write. Your profile summary is the thing that's looked at more than any other – and it's under your control.
It will be looked at by potential clients who you meet and then who check you out online afterwards. It will be looked at by potential referrers who you offer to connect with.
It's not rocket science. Don't mess it up.
And yet last night, when I looked at a random set of profiles I was truly shocked by what I saw. They were awful.
I searched for profiles containing “managing director” in the job title.
What I got in the first 10 I looked at were:
2 who had nothing in the profile summary at all.
1 whose summary said “for information go to www.mysite.com/myprofile” (if he couldn't be bothered to copy and paste a decent profile onto Linkedin what on earth makes him think the people reading his page would be bothered to copy and paste his website address to go and see it?)
1 who just listed some consulting jargon words. Business Process Reengineering, ERP, etc.
3 Who said nothing about themselves – just what their company did. No personal connection at all.
1 Who told me all about his vision, his favourite mottos, the rules he lives by (but nothing about what he might be able to do to help me).
And only 2 who had reasonably descriptive profile summaries that actually said who they worked with, and how they helped them – so that I was able to see whether I'd be interested in connecting with them further.
And these were all very senior people.