LinkedIn. It’s the less sexy cousin of, well, all the other big-name social media sites. While all the big drama and shiny pictures are filling feeds elsewhere, posts on LinkedIn tend to be in keeping with the intention of the site: Professional.
Most of us are pretty well adept at avoiding LinkedIn even when we have profiles lingering out there somewhere and yet in the last number of years, in the context of working with people who are in career transition – either seeking new employment or starting/growing businesses – I’ve come to appreciate LinkedIn as a tool for building meaningful professional community and opportunity.
I can already hear you: You’re not currently looking for a job or building a business. This isn’t relevant to you.
Hear me: It’s better to put a little elbow grease into LinkedIn now so that you’ve got a presence and community that you can tap into if/when you do fit into either of these categories. I’ve coached so, so many people through activating and utilizing LinkedIn in the midst of looking for that job or working on that business and it’s doable but it’s hard and it gets the Gremlins of Asking for Help is Weak whipped into a frenzy.
Pre-game. There are only benefits to building professional relationships, whether those benefits eventually come in the form of help in finding a job or creating a business or whether the benefit is the fulfillment of the core human need for connection. All wins.
Last week, I did a freebie class on LinkedIn strategy for my newsletter community. I like to do stuff like that for that crew. (Join on in the fun and bonuses!) And while we got into a variety of topics around use and strategy, there’s one big key point I wanted to share here, the biggest thing to get you started on your pre-game: Treat your LinkedIn profile as a memoir, not an autobiography.
Autobiography: Edgar was born on May 14, 1972 at Gringwald’s Hospital in Megalopolis to Juanika and Pat Smith. [Insert all details here.]
Memoir: This is Edgar’s story of learning to make the perfect baguette and how it taught him about community, patience, and the utility of persisting beyond failure.
Your LinkedIn profile is going paint the most vivid professional picture of you if you treat it as the memoir of how your career to date has prepared you for the next thing if you’re job searching or business building; if you love exactly where you are, make it the memoir of how your career led up to this moment of awesomeness. (You can see my approach here.)
To craft your professional memoir, review all of your past jobs and ask yourself what you learned from each one that moved you closer to this Now or the Next that you’re creating.
- What do you most want people to know about you?
- What skills do people value when hiring or collaborating with someone in your line of work?
- How can you demonstrate those skills through accomplishments or growth statements in your LinkedIn profile?
We each have complex life stories and we each can find opportunity in taking a writerly approach to sharing our professional stories as we tell the tale of our growing competencies, talents, and passions.
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