Measure yourself against these 5 critical issues to complete your Aussie-style LinkedIn health check.
As I say to my clients, everything you do on LinkedIn sends a message...
1. Bad Photos
The standard here is getting tougher and tougher. In the US, many people are advising even college students to pay a photographer to take some shots to ensure that their visual message is appropriate. We don't tend to be so strict in Australia, but even so…
Are you falling into one of the following three dangerous categories?
Sexy photos. You know what I mean – provocative pose with soft lighting and blurred edges. Or, a close up of a face flirting up at the camera. You will not be taken seriously if you present yourself this way.
Mug shot photos. If you can afford it, pay a professional photographer to take some photos. Even here, you need to brief the photographer so that you do not end up with a "Deer in Startled Headlights" look, backed up against the wall. If you can't afford a photographer, then take multiple shots. With digital cameras, this is easy. Just keep clicking away. This way, hopefully, at least one photo should present you well.
Pub photos. I know that we are a casual society here in Australia, but I advise against this. A useful strategy in all aspects of career management is to think about what is most likely to please most people most of the time. It is risky to think that you will win friends and influence people if you blur your social and professional image via an overly informal drinking shot.
2. Motherhood Quotes / Images
I'm not on FaceBook, but friends tell me that there are many people who use it to post inspirational quotes. You know what I mean, a hazy sunrise with a "We Shall Overcome" message.
I've noticed some people starting to do the same thing on LinkedIn.
Quotes/images that are stimulating, thought-provoking and new are appealing to most of us. An evocative image works so well in our word-dense lives. And, an inspirational quote can help us make needed changes to our work life.
There are three issues here to be wary about.
Are you the first to post it? I find that after the first time an "inspirational" message is posted on LinkedIn, it can travel across many people's feed. This means that when you think that you are posting something that people will enjoy, it may actually be the seventh or even tenth time your contact group has seen it. Instead of you cementing your reputation as someone who posts valuable content, it may make you appear well behind the curve.
Is it professional? Is it going to add value to people in their professional lives? Are you blurring the lines between Facebook and LinkedIn? Think this through carefully to avoid damaging your professional reputation.
Is it an interesting quote/image? If your post is bland, it will make your audience think that you are bland. If your quote is not relevant to the working world, you may seem out of touch.
3. "Lazy" posting
We Aussies tend to love the idea of something that is "good value". LinkedIn can be so powerful in helping you gain the reputation of being someone who is "good value".
You've gone to the effort of finding an interesting article to post. Now, just spend one or two minutes on some text to introduce it. Put a bit of personality into your content. Stand out from the crowd.
Of all of my 900+ LinkedIn contacts, there is just one who is top of my list. She posts great articles and she tells me why via her short introduction. I find that I read her recommendations, even before any of the articles that LinkedIn highlights. She is "good value".
I come back to my earlier comment that everything you do on LinkedIn sends a message. My immediate reaction to someone who posts several times a day is: "Don't they have any work to do?"
If you want to present yourself as a serious player in your field, you need to appear serious, not flippant, random or undiscerning.
This is one I struggle with. Someone I once worked with had the most amazing ability to tap away at her keyboard and produce interesting, warm and relevant comments in her LinkedIn Groups discussions. That's not me. My first thought is usually that I don't know enough about the issue, my second thought is that I don't have anything interesting to say. Then, when I finally think that this topic is the one for me, I over-intellectualise and take ages to complete my post!
One thing I've noticed though, is that it is getting easier. I guess practice makes perfect as my Mother so often said.
It is critically important that you build your long-term reputation as a valuable participant in your particular business community. So, you need to post regularly. Just one word of warning. Be very wary of negative comments. They never disappear.
Aussie Style Good Value
In Australia, people's use of LinkedIn is at an interesting stage. Many people are on it, but very few people are using it well. Here's your chance to be ahead of the curve. Just ten minutes a day and you have one of the most effective self-marketing tools literally at your beck and call.
Go ahead, and cement yourself in your market's mind as "good value".
aBOUT THE AUTHOR
Catherine Cunningham is Adelaide's leading career expert. She appears regularly in The Weekend Australian Careers section, in The Advertiser's CareerOne, as well as in online publications such as news.com.au, thenewdaily.com.au and womensagenda.com.au