As a career development professional, there is a focus that you need to keep in mind when helping a client build their LinkedIn profile, and that is namely that this is an organic, living process. You are working with a person who has real experiences and passionate examples of their career success. Helping clients grow their profile into a useful tool for professional development, jobseeking or networking is much like a tree growing – we start from the ground up, and then reach higher and outward.
A strong foundation
One of the first questions I ask my clients is to give me a single word that they want to be described as. This becomes the core of their brand. I know this sounds vague, but think of it much like the tree – this single word is the trunk that supports everything else. When clients really think about it, this becomes key to their personal branding in their LinkedIn profile.
For example, I had a client who wanted the word “dependable” used as their brand focus. This client was a project manager, and from this word I was able to deduce some of their other professional attributes. We discussed what this attribute meant to them, as well as what it would mean to others reading their profile and what they would take from it. This gave us a very good beginning, and from there we grew the next profile segments.
Pro tip: Do not expect this process to come quickly. This is an integral step of the process of helping clients align their LinkedIn profile to their brand and will take time.
Growing the branches – increasing reach
The process I use to come up with related keywords that can be used in the profile is to consider which person in my own life the client’s word brings to mind. For me, the word “dependable” evokes my mom. She has been a pediatric nurse for over 50 years, managed several people, and even found time to be a wife and mom. I thought of all the words I would use to describe her and asked the client if these words resonated with how they wanted to present themself. This included attributes such as:
- capable, efficient, professional, intelligent, knowledgeable, direct, committed, analytical, accurate, resilient, tenacious, mindful and meticulous
And skills such as:
- time management, problem solving, communication, project management, planning, team building, teamwork and critical thinking
The client was astounded. Never before had they thought that one word could add so much value. The imagery behind the word is key to this – lean into your own perceptions and help the client flesh out theirs. Leverage the person you see as an ideal representative of the word the client has provided to create a dialogue about the client’s professional attributes.
Want to learn more about creating LinkedIn profiles that will get your clients noticed? Check out these other articles by Chris Kulbaba:
Filling out the foliage – help us see the tree
The leaves of a tree offer shade, depth and character to the tree. In short, the shape of the leaves identifies the tree itself.
Taking the word dependable we spoke of, the leaves from the tree are all the stories and examples of how the person would be described. When we have the client’s list of attributes and skills, the next step is to fill out the foliage by asking the client to give concrete examples of them. How are they able to showcase their time-management skills, for example? Asking scenario questions – e.g. “Tell me about a time when …” – can serve as an effective prompt. Help your client prune and shape their story so that it will resonate with their target audience.
A malleable tool
Much like a tree, this process has many potential uses. Helping clients to incorporate their attributes and stories into their LinkedIn can help them build a network of professionals and explore potential career paths that align with their skills.
Another benefit of thinking of building a LinkedIn profile like growing a tree is that you will have more patience. I have seen practitioners who take mere minutes to create a profile, when in reality it is better to create and revise as needed. This process can take some time working with the client – sometimes a few hours over several days of interactions. Making sure the profile is working for the client, achieving their goals and bringing them opportunities are the end goals. Collaboration and feedback are critical for success for both you and the client.
Trees as a metaphor are useful for another reason – trees provide shade, give warmth, and even can be used as shelter, tools, furniture, to give heat, cook food, and more. They are malleable and useful in many ways when they are full-grown – the ways they can support us are many indeed. When the profile is ready to share, you can implement many strategies to benefit the client:
- Build a network of professionals
- Seek ideas from other subject matter experts to share with a local network
- Seek educational or career options
- Investigate the career path of other professionals
- Career exploration in terms of finding information, connections, or ideas
- Sharing your skills in multimedia formats – PowerPoint, articles, documents, etc.
- Communicate with specific companies or representatives
- Generate sales or leads if you are entrepreneurial
In the next article, we will look at specific strategies to leverage LinkedIn so that when your profile is created, you will have a blueprint to use the tools you have made.
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