I was an early adopter of LinkedIn. I’m just telling you that to make myself feel better. Because, despite seeing the power of LinkedIn early on, I’ve been one of those “do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do” career coaches. I’ve helped hundreds of people with their LinkedIn profiles, but haven’t spent much time on my own. I’d say “Go look at so-and-so’s profile. Oh, and don’t use mine as an example. It’s not very complete.” WTH?
Until one day it hit me – Not having a complete LinkedIn profile is inconsistent with my personal brand. Not only inconsistent, dumb and stupid, really. I got more and more uncomfortable with the excuses I would mumble to clients until I just couldn’t stand it any longer.
I want to inspire and encourage them to not get caught up in the belief that their LinkedIn profile needs to look like everyone else’s. I hate watching professionals with amazing work histories and backgrounds, get paralyzed over their LinkedIn profile.
So I started with the hardest part for me… a new photo. I know it’s silly that the photo would be the toughest part for me, but it is. I hate being photographed. I’m stiff and unnatural (awkward and geeky too). I critique every last detail of any picture I’m in. I think in the past 30 years, I’ve had four photographs taken that I’ve liked. And they’ve had one thing in common. Candid, not staged. No hand on chin, unnatural head tilt or me talking into a phone. I knew what I had to do – relax and let the photographer get a natural shot of me. Easy? Sure. If you don’t hate being photographed.
So the first photo shoot was scheduled with a friend so I could relax. We were going to do some outdoor shots as well as a few in my office. Despite it being a cold and rainy late spring day, I was confident I’d get some good shots.
Unfortunately, there was a technical glitch and most of the images didn’t turn out. So we rescheduled, the sun came out, and we did a mini-shoot in the city, part two. All in all, I got some good images and Christy, the photographer, did a great job.
For my LinkedIn profile, I decided to go with a candid photo in my office with the city in the background. I wanted the image to reflect my personal brand more than I cared whether it was a great (read: flattering) photo. I’m not looking directly at the camera and there are some shadows. When I added the photo to my LinkedIn profile, Kristy, my social media manager/ virtual assistant, even went so far as to discreetly send me some tips about photos you should use for social media. She’s amazing that way. Helpful and informative without being pushy (well, sometimes she can be a little pushy with deadlines and such, but I like that about her).
Guidelines are great, but I find myself breaking more rules than I follow. My philosophy: Let common sense be your guide, and don’t sacrifice individuality. It is very important to me that I model this for my clients. I want to inspire and encourage them to not get caught up in the belief that their LinkedIn profile needs to look like everyone else’s. I hate watching professionals with amazing work histories and backgrounds, get paralyzed over their LinkedIn profile.
My new photo actually made it easier to start editing and rounding out my LinkedIn profile easier. I wrote “to my brand” and didn’t struggle with the words. I’m not done, and I’m going to use each section to help YOU with your LinkedIn profile, if you care to follow along. We’ll have some fun and hopefully you’ll get inspired to work on your profile too.
Now go get a new photo that reflects your personal brand. Your profile will feel more authentic and you’ll feel more confident.