Before you get on LinkedIn…

If you are completely new to LinkedIn, we must start at the beginning.  No, not with registering and creating a profile.  That is step two and three.   Creating an effective online presence starts before you actually get online. 

“Ohhh!  I just want to get started!”  I can hear you muttering at your screen.

I understand, but trust me when I say it will be well worth your while. 

First, when you create your profile, you will want to have certain information at your fingertips: past employers, titles, dates and education details at the very least.   If you have a resume, then you should have this information in one convenient place.  If you don’t, then pull the information together to have at your fingertips.  This is the easy part. 

Now for the harder part.  You need to understand that while your LinkedIn profile is informational, it is also a marketing piece.  And, like any good marketing piece, it must have a specific message about a well defined product with a specific target audience.   You are the product, of course.  To write compellingly about your product, you need to define a few things:

  • How would you want others to describe you professionally?  I don’t mean “he’s so nice” or “she’s a great gal”, but “she’s a great corporate finance gal with tons of M&A experience” or “he’s a real estate guy with amazing market knowledge”  (If you don’t think they would describe you that way now – you have some things to work on, but that is another post.)
  • What are you best at in your job?  What do you do better than others in your same role?
  • What achievements or experience are you most proud of?
  • What are the skills and competencies you most enjoy using?
  • Is there anything unique about your background that gives you an “edge” in the market?  

The skills and knowledge and competencies you identify here are those you will be using as you create your profile.  You are beginning to define your brand.  Doing this helps you really focus your content on that which is most relevant and helps distinguish you from your competition.  Without it, people often end up with the overexhaustive and boring “autobiography” of their professional life, or the completely generic, and therefore useless, list of job duties. 

If you’re going to do it right, do the “internal” work described here first.  The next step is registering and I’ll cover that in the next post.

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