Is LinkedIn the tool for you?
Are you looking to expand your network?
As an independent consultant, you need a tool to help people who are interested in similar subjects find you.
I believe LinkedIn is THE professional networking tool out there.
Mind you, I may be biased as I’ve been a LinkedIn member since it first started in 2002. My loyalty has been rewarded with building a valuable network with global reach and access to content that’s relevant for both my business and my consulting craft.
I’ve been advocating LinkedIn for a long time. It was one of the first topics I spoke on at events: helping consultants understand how to co-brand themselves with various consulting-service vendors representing them.
I am surprised how often fellow consultants have little or ‘questionable’ content.
Even recently, I was contacted by a seasoned professional who wanted to see if I was interested in an international opportunity. But when I went to look at his profile, there was barely any information. All he provided was his name, location, and his consulting craft-which didn’t align with the ‘ask’ he sent me.
Thankfully, I am curious like a cat at times. And my instinct was telling me, “give him a chance”. He was very professional in his messages to me using LinkedIn’s messaging service, so I thought, “why not?”. It turns out he was not only an enjoyable person to engage with, but a potentially excellent opportunity to follow up on. We had a great conversation, and it will be interesting to see what comes of our next steps.
There were also some intriguing learnings for both sides.
What he told me when I asked about his profile.
When I raised my concerns about the lack of information on his LinkedIn profile, he was willing to listen. To me, this is ‘telling’ about the other person. I told him I almost didn’t continue the conversation due to his profile. He didn’t realise that he had created a potential barrier for his business.
When I asked why he had so little content, I learned something too. He admitted that he’s struggling with the tool. And that he didn’t have the time to fix it because it wasn’t a priority for his plans to build his business. After our conversation, he gave me the impression he’ll be making his LinkedIn profile a priority shortly.
You never know where opportunities may come, but some are likely to come from LinkedIn.
I know he and many others in my network are hesitant when it comes to LinkedIn. So, I thought, “why not do a two-part series of the ‘don’ts’ and ‘do’s’ when it comes to LinkedIn profiles for consultants?” If you want to build your independent consulting business, give yourself options for clients and opportunities, and expand your reach-globally-then you need to advocate yourself to the world.
The Independent Management Consultants ‘Don’ts’ of LinkedIn
Don’t Ignore LinkedIn
LinkedIn has been around for sixteen years and is deemed one of the top social networking services for professionals. It is not a tool that can be ignored or used lightly. It has too much brand recognition itself and is extremely useful, when used with intention.
It’s used to verify who you are, share knowledge, announce events, and learn about organisations and other people in your field.
Don’t Miss Adding Your Profile Photo…And Don’t Use a Bad One
Studies show that people are seven times more likely to click on your LinkedIn profile if there’s a picture.
When you chose not to have a profile image, it is sending several possible messages:
- You don’t want to be found or recognised.
- You’re not comfortable with technology-in this day and age.
- You’re not confident in what you have to offer.
- You have something to hide.
None of these are the engaging message you are wanting to send when you are dependent on establishing relationships to build your business. And while not having a photo isn’t good, having a bad photo is worse. Make sure your picture sends the right message.
Don’t Have a Boring Headline
The headline is the most crucial piece of information on your profile. It’s similar to the headlines in newspapers and magazine. You want to catch a potential reader’s attention.
It’s also used in LinkedIn’s search functionality. Choose keywords as part of your headline so you will be easier to find. With the right researched keywords, you’ll have a better chance of being in the top search results.
And if you use a bit of creativity in your heading, you may just pop out and grab a potential client’s attention. Here are some of my favourites I found when I was searching for “Project Manager”:
- Business Outcomes Delivered with a People-Centered Approach Project Manager
- Project Manager who has been in some of the most volatile parts of world rescuing some amazing projects successfully.
I would really like to meet the person with the 2nd headline. I bet they have some amazing stories.
Don’t Expect Someone to Read a Long Summary
Don’t bore your reader with a long story or a really long list in the summary section. Instead, tease the reader with short, engaging content with a bit of personality.
The keyword here-summary.
Use this section to summarise your abilities into two to three accomplishments that represent your craft and, if possible, your specialisation. If you can quantify it, even better. Your goal is to engage the reader and have them confirm that:
- “Yes, I want to know more about this potential consultant.”; or
- “Yes, this is who I met, and this is the person I want to follow up with”.
Don’t Write Your Summary in the Third Person
Ok, I have to admit this is a hard one. Over the years, the style of writing about yourself has gone back and forth between first person and third person. Currently, writing in the third person is perceived as being self-important, similar to having a summary that is too long.
Personally, I find it uncomfortable to describe myself in the first person. To manage this, I’ll be working with a profile specialist I trust to look at my profile and help me with tackling this concern.
Don’t Cheat on Your Work History
So many times, I notice consultants just list where they worked and the years. They provide no details of what they accomplished, the results they delivered, or the difference they made. Take the time and include information about you and your craft and what you bring. And if you can incorporate numbers too!
Don’t Miss Asking for Recommendations You Earned, Related to Your Work History
If your clients aren’t willing to write a recommendation for your more recent positions, it leaves a poor impression with those who are either finding you or confirming who you are using LinkedIn. It leaves potential clients wondering:
- “Who are you?”
- “Are you a team player?”
- “Can you work with others?”
The best case scenario is to collect at least one recommendation, but preferably two or three, for each of your engagements or contracts. It may be difficult for the older items, but do your best. It may be a great reason to re-ignite a potential mutually beneficial client relationship.
Now, I have to admit, I too need to give some attention to and improve a couple of the items above for my own profile.
Which brings me to my last ‘don’t’.
Don’t stop reviewing your profile and the newest trends for social networking tools.
You need to do a refresh on a regular basis. I’m due for one this year and am already starting to plan my next steps.
Thanks for reading!
Founder and President
Stand & Deliver Inc.