Part of the series “Building a Powerful Support Community”
I’m not a LinkedIn guru by any stretch, but as a career consultant, leadership trainer and writer with over 140,000 followers on LinkedIn, I review hundreds of LinkedIn profiles each month. These profiles — of my clients, workshop attendees, and course members, as well as new connections — reveal a great deal information. Per the conversations I have about these, I see that what’s revealed on LinkedIn is most often unintentional and not deliberate. In fact, many of these profiles are falling short and failing to make the positive impact professionals hope to achieve because they haven’t done the right work to craft their stories in a way that will reach out and grab us.
I see too that there are three major trends in terms of what people continually get wrong on their digital profiles. These three blunders are apparent on thousands of profiles, no matter how much training or instruction is out there regarding developing the perfect LinkedIn profile. (For some great advice on developing LinkedIn summaries, here’s a post not to miss: Three Steps To Writing The Perfect LinkedIn Summary.)
The top three blunders I see on LinkedIn are:
#1: Your profile doesn’t tell a cohesive, compelling story that holds together or inspires
Whether you see it this way or not, your professional history is a fascinating story – it has high peaks, low valleys, compelling dramas, powerful triumphs, and crushing challenges, with lots of important learning all along the way. And it reveals what you care about, stand for and value in the world. But if you have no idea what your most gripping professional story is, you can’t shape it or share it to your best advantage. You’re leaving it up to uninspired readers by the thousands to try to decipher who you are in the professional world, and why anyone should care.
What to do: As a first step, look back at every job you’ve ever had and organization you’ve worked for, and understand what you loved, hated, felt blessed to learn, and never want to think about again. Think too about who you were when you were 18 to 25 years old, and what lit you up from the inside back then.
Then pull out the powerful, positive themes that make you you. Make sure that those themes are reflected clearly and powerfully through each and every job description. Highlight the activities, projects and outcomes that you loved to focus on and what you want to do more of, and de-emphasize what you disliked doing. Remember, whatever you mention in your LinkedIn profile, know that it will attract more of the same. So if you want to attract work that you love, talk all about that (even if it’s only 20% of what you’ve done in total), and leave the work that you hate behind forever.
By the way, if you don’t have a professional photo uploaded, make sure you do that this week.
#2: Your summary features “tasks” not critical outcomes generated
We’ve all heard this advice, but we need to heed it: Don’t talk about the tasks you’ve accomplished; talk about the positive, powerful outcomes you’ve generated that only you could bring about. And don’t make your headline your job title, ever. You’re much more than your current job. Make it a one-line powerhouse descriptor of what you do when you work – who you are when we look at the entire arch of your career.
In my coaching programs, I see that women in particular find it very hard to answer these questions:
• “What outcomes have you generated in your work that only you could have done, in the way you did it?”
• “What needles have you moved, and progress have you supported in your organization and your teams that made a positive difference?”
• “How did you know you made a positive difference – what were the specific signs and measures?”
• “What is the emotional experience others have when they work with you? How do you make people feel when they collaborate with you?”
• “What stands you apart from everyone else in the world who’s doing the work you’re doing?”
• “What projects or initiatives did you contribute to that mattered deeply to you, and why?”
• “If you could express in ONE word what you want more of in your life and work, what would that word be?”
You need to dig deep and understand the answers to these questions before you can write a compelling story about who you are in the working world, and why someone else should hire you as part of their team.
What to do: Take the time to sit with yourself quietly for 15 minutes a day for a week, and journal about your work history and your professional trajectory. What has made you proud, and what has made you hang your head in disappointment (and maybe even shame). Get to know yourself intimately and answer the questions above. Then start writing your story that reveals how truly amazing you are (because you are amazing – everyone is).
Also, remember to incorporate critical keywords in your headline and throughout your profile that highlight the skills, roles and functions that you excel at. These words will help you rise to the top when searches are conducted on these terms.
#3: No one else is talking about you in a positive way
I’m a big proponent of learning how to speak about yourself in an empowered way. In fact, if you don’t learn to do it, you’ll fall behind your colleagues who can present themselves confidently and authoritatively.
But in life and work, in order to create amazing success, reward and happiness, you can’t be the only one talking about yourself. You need loyal and passionate advocates, ambassadors, and supporters who, in their own potent words, will share with the world just how great you are, and how important and helpful it is for others to collaborate with you as well.
Quick skill endorsements on LinkedIn are terrific, and earning hundreds of them are helpful. But even more beneficial are written testimonials that rave about you, your style, your efforts and your outcomes. It can feel uncomfortable to ask for these (again, I’ve seen that boomer women deeply struggle with asking others for testimonials), but you have to push yourself to do it. If these supporters are truly in your corner, they’ll be thrilled to offer a written endorsement that shares their high opinion of who you are in the professional world.
What to do: This week, identify 20 colleagues from your past and current life with whom you have a great relationship. Reach out on LinkedIn, and ask for a testimonial about your work.
To get you started, here’s some sample language to draw on (tailor this to your own personal style and approach):
Hello! It’s been a long time! I’ve so enjoyed watching your success at ___, and learning about all your latest developments.
At this time, I’m focusing on building my LinkedIn profile to a higher level, and I wondered if I could ask you a favor? I so enjoyed working with you last year, and I was hoping you might be open to sharing a few positive words about the work we did together, and how you experienced me and our collaboration, and any positive outcomes from it?
I’m looking to expand my work and contributions in the content areas of _______, _____, ______ so any comments about those in particular would be so helpful.
I’m grateful for your help! And I’m happy to do the same for you. In fact, I just wrote a testimonial for you and submitted it for your approval. I hope you like it!
Thank you again for your help, and let’s catch up soon.
Taking the time to power up your professional story on LinkedIn means much more than just improving your digital footprint. It’s a sign that you’re ready to do more and be more in the professional world, and that you’ll do your part to take the reins and make that happen.
Read the original article on Forbes.