“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” -Bernard M. Baruch
One of the most common mistakes that people make when they create their LinkedIn profile is thinking that LinkedIn is their online CV.
So just like what they do with their CVs, they simply list down their current and past jobs and write down their job descriptions, a.k.a. their ‘duties and responsibilities’ on their profiles. You might not believe it, but some would simply copy the job descriptions written in their contracts.
Your LinkedIn profile, however, is not your online CV.
Your LinkedIn profile should highlight not only your past and present jobs but most importantly your FUTURE career or business.
As I always say:
Optimizing your LinkedIn profile is a forward-looking activity.
Personal branding on LinkedIn is a matter of positioning. And you position yourself for your future, not for your past or present. However, take note that what you’ve done in the past and what you’re currently doing will have a significant impact on how you position yourself. To strategically position yourself in the industry, you need to be very clear about what you stand for.
So what do you stand for?
When people hear your name, what do you want them to think? When they visit your LinkedIn profile and leave, what do you want them to remember? When you engage with them, what do you want them to feel?
Knowing what you stand for involves finding your niche, being clear about your values and discovering your unique voice.
But wait, you might be wondering — what’s the point of knowing what you stand for and why do you need to demonstrate it on LinkedIn?
What I’ve found is that, when people are not clear with what they stand for, they end up simply enumerating on their LinkedIn profile all the boring stuff that doesn’t resonate at all with their target audience. Yes, you can be an award-winning person or a well-respected person in your company or in the industry, but it won’t resonate with your target audience unless you create a story around all of your achievements.
And if you can put your narratives in a beautiful “package” that tells your target audience why you’re doing what you’re doing, and where they fit into the picture, they will easily remember you.
Demonstrating what you stand for will help build your influence and will attract like-minded people who care about the same thing, who have the same passion and who tell similar stories. That’s very powerful.
So now, the question is, how do you demonstrate on LinkedIn what you stand for? Here are three simple ways you can do it:
1. Make it simple and visible
Whatever it is that you stand for, make it simple. Your profile viewers have no time to figure it out, so it’s your job to express it in simple terms. You can create a tagline that you can include in your headline.
You could also create a slogan, which is more focused than your tagline, and make sure it’s visible and that it is reiterated or repeated (but not too many times) in a few parts of your profile, e.g., on your LinkedIn banner, profile summary and Experience section.
In my case, I use “Make LinkedIn Work For You!” This is what I want my profile visitors to know and to remember — that they can make LinkedIn work for them.
2. Be consistent
You need to have a theme — your tagline is a great starting point — that will direct your actions on LinkedIn. Your views should be clear and consistent. If you’re publishing on LinkedIn, you can’t just talk about anything that comes to your mind. You have to be intentional.
You can talk about other topics not directly related to your theme, but you still have to tie it around with what you stand for. Otherwise, you’ll confuse your target audience on who you really are.
To ensure you don’t get lost, you can create a hashtag and own it. Here’s my hashtag: #LinkedInForSuccess. Other hashtags I use include #personalbranding #freelancing #socialselling and #LinkedInLocalPH.
If you “own” a hashtag, you can easily track the conversations around it. In my case, searching through my hashtag on LinkedIn allows me to see who are sharing my content. Plus, your content becomes discoverable on the platform. Eventually, people will associate you with your own hashtag. It’s a free and easy way to get discovered.
3. Be authentic
Your authenticity will show your values and beliefs. Make every interaction with your network an opportunity to show who you are and to acknowledge other people’s views. This is important — knowing and articulating what you stand for won’t mean you should make everyone agree with what you believe in.
On LinkedIn, acknowledging that other people have their own views is a critical part of your success. Just be authentic with how you express yourself and leave some room to accommodate and respect other people’s views.