OK, you’ve decided that you don’t want to get lumped in with the rest of the pack and you want your digital presence to stand out. How can you bring your personality and your unique perspective into the LinkedIn profile on a tactical level?
My suggestion is to think Profersonally™. My Ajax colleague Jason Seiden had to invent the term because there was no way to describe the eroding line between our personal and professional lives on social media. It’s not a new idea, we’ve always connected with our clients and colleagues on a personal level; social media is just making it more apparent as we bring this mix into our online conversations. Think about it – you’ve probably encouraged your clients to be open with you so you can give them better advice; in the same way, the more they can connect with you as a person, the stronger your relationship will be.
Being profersonal™ means that you’ll keep the tone of your profile professional, but you’ll let who you are as a human come out as well. Share your professional competence and experience, but also share your unique story. If you are struggling with this, imagine that your perfect client is in front of you and you are talking directly to them. Here are some ways that you can share your personality through your LinkedIn profile.
- Photo – Using a polished head shot with a great smile is never a bad idea, but you can let your personality come through here a bit (as long as you are doing it on purpose). Is your office near your alma mater and you still bleed your school’s colors? Then maybe some school memorabilia will make it into your photo. Or if you often speak on financial topics, how about a photo of you on stage? Have a little fun, and always make sure that you stay consistent with your overall message (don’t put a photo of you at the beach if your profile focuses on how hard you work for your clients…).
- Summary – This is an easy place to let your personality come through, but it’s usually misused (if it’s used at all). If your profile summary is filled with vague buzzwords that make your eyes glaze over, then trust me, your visitors are bored too. A great way to flesh out your summary is to be very specific with how you help people. Don’t assume that they know how you work – tell them. And you can also add a profersonal™ statement right into the summary, which is a little bit about one of your favorite activities outside of your professional life.
- Previous Positions – The paths that lead people into the financial profession are as numerous as the people in the financial profession. How you got to where you are is important. Don’t just tell people what your past jobs were, tell them what you learned at those jobs and how they influenced the way you approach your work today. Were you a teacher, an engineer, an artist? Your career is yours alone and creates a unique perspective – share it.
- Volunteer Work – An obvious way to set yourself apart is how you choose to give one of your most precious resources, your time. Whether you are involved in civic organizations, industry associations, or humanitarian causes, let people know what is important to you. And don’t list nine associations just to make yourself look good – we know you’re pandering. I’d rather have someone tell me they are passionate about one topic, like housing the homeless, than someone puffing up their chest with all the meetings they go to.
- Education – Be sure to list your educational experiences, and list your major and extracurricular activities as well. Where you choose to put your academic focus says a lot about you, even if it doesn’t appear relevant to the financial world. Also, you never know when a potential client was also a biology major or wrote for the college newspaper and now you have a shared connection.
These are just a few of the places you can demonstrate your personality, but they’re a great start. Your prospects and clients can find information about what to do with their money from thousands of sources online, but they can only find out about you from you. Take the time to share your message and your personality with your clients, and the benefits will come back over a lifetime of stronger (and more productive) relationships.