Monthly Archives: August 2021

Is An Outdated LinkedIn Profile Negatively Impacting Your Career?

By Point Road Group

Before and after you give a presentation, people look you up on LinkedIn. Does your profile make a great impression and present you optimally when they do? Can people see your unique value, expertise and experience in way that’s clear, informative and interesting? What your profile says about you supports your personal brand and credibility as a speaker, and if it’s outdated, that credibility can be damaged. Consider the following reactions to outdated profile content:

  • How can this person be an expert in XX when their profile doesn’t communicate it at all?
  • The speaker claims to have deep experience in YY, but when I look at their work history, it doesn’t add up.
  • The speaker comes across as junior level on their profile. Is this person really a leader in ZZ?

What you include on your profile should reflect who you are today. Outdated information doesn’t position you well for anything – future speaking engagements, network growth, internal opportunities, business referrals, potential jobs, board seats or media inquiries. Consider the missed opportunities if your profile doesn’t show what you bring to the table now.

Resonating with your audience is critical when giving a presentation. The same holds true with viewers of your LinkedIn profile. The content on your profile is a form of presentation, so make it mistake-free and relevant and relatable to your target audiences. 

If it’s been a while since you’ve reviewed your profile, here are 7 updates to improve impressions you make and instantly enhance your credibility.

1. Update Your Headshot

Your headshot is the first thing people see about you on LinkedIn. Use a good quality, professional-looking image that represents what you look like today, not 10 years ago. If you’ve changed hair color, switched to wearing glasses or grown a beard since your last photo, update your headshot. Use a picture that’s centered on your face, isn’t taken from 50 feet away and doesn’t include others. When your headshot and appearance as a presenter on video (or in person) don’t match, it can confuse audiences and potentially impact communication.

2. Go Beyond Title & Company In Your Headline

Your headline introduces you on LinkedIn and influences whether someone decides to read more about you. It also impacts your discoverability in search results. When writing a headline, include key areas of expertise and industry specialties. If you’re a keynote speaker, let people know! Use this high value real estate to establish relevancy and credibility, not just state a job title and company name.

3. Write About You, Not Your Company In About

Do you include a lot of detail about your company instead of who you are and what makes you unique in the About section? Your profile, and especially the About section, is the place to tell your professional story. While it’s okay to write about your company topline for context, don’t make it all about them. Even if your role is to develop new business or drive brand awareness, people still want to know about who you are and the expertise and value you bring. Include the most critical information in the first few lines to entice people to click, “see more.”

4. Grab Attention With Logos In Experience

Are there generic gray/blue square icons in your Experience section instead of company logos? Be sure to match employer names to the correct LinkedIn company pages so clickable company logos appear. Experience looks more credible and impactful with visual representation of the brands you’ve worked for. If a former employer was sold, list the acquiring company so the logo appears (and then under your title or description, be clear that you worked for the acquired company. If the company no longer exists or if you’re self-employed and don’t have a LinkedIn company page, it’s acceptable to leave the generic icon.

5. Unpack Your Experience

Do you over-summarize positions, so it looks like you had one title for 10 years instead of the three roles you really held? Not only does showing career progression demonstrate that you performed well (and the company valued your work and supported your growth), but it can also generate up to 29X more profile views. Include detail under recent positions to enhance your credibility. While it doesn’t need to read like a resume, providing some information under your current role can result in up to 5X more connection requests, 8X more profile views and 10X more messages according to LinkedIn.

6. Include 5+ Skills

List skills that relate to who you are today and how you want to position yourself moving forward. Include skills related to speaking and presenting, specific industry and functional strengths and other competencies that highlight your unique value and problems you solve. This improves searchability. According to LinkedIn, including at least 5 skills on your profile translates to up to 17X more profile views and 31X more messages.

7. Check Details & Settings

Do you know what email is listed on your profile? Do you link to a Twitter handle but haven’t tweeted in years? Do you know who can view your information and if your profile is publicly viewable? Be sure to go through all areas of Contact Information to ensure it’s current, as well as Settings & Privacy. People should be able to find you on LinkedIn and reach you in some way off-platform.

A current and complete LinkedIn profile strengthens impressions you make when someone looks you up before/after presentations, meetings or events; when making introductions that link to your profile; or when conducting a search on or off LinkedIn. Strong personal brands are important for speakers and presenters and an optimized LinkedIn profile reflects that. Don’t let an outdated profile negatively impact your credibility or business and career opportunities.

It’s the (User-Focused) Strategy that Counts!

To paraphrase a famous expression, “It’s the Strategy, Stupid!”

Recently Greg Satell, Publisher of Digital Tonto, reminded me of the difference that two companies used to accomplish a vision, with two different strategies and very different outcomes.   In “Anyone Can Have A Vision”, he compares the strategies of two visionary entrepreneurs committed to shifting the world from fossil fuels to renewables, and deciding to create enterprises focused on bringing electric cars to the masses.  Yes, one of them is Elon Musk and Tesla. 

The other, Shai Agassi, committed to this compelling vision in 2007 by forming a company called “Better Place”, focused immediately on producing the car for the masses. With a focus on the technology, he envisioned that the car, at least at the beginning, would have a very heavy battery and need to be recharged for drivers traveling long distances. Drawing on the model for gas-powered vehicles – where drivers stop in on stations to fill up when power was running low, the company focused on battery switching stations that would remove and install a new battery when power was running low.  The company went public and tested the initial model in places like Hawaii, Ireland and Israel, where the distances were relatively small and only one or two “charges” would be needed. Renault Fluence Z.E.  created the electric car to hold the batteries .  At its peak in 2012, there were 21 operational battery-swap stations open to the public in Israel. Better Place filed for bankruptcy in May 2013.

Musk adopted a different strategy – focusing on the user. He did not attempt to immediately build a car for the masses; instead he used the “adoption of innovations” approach and focused on early adopters: Silicon Valley celebrities and millionaires who wouldn’t rely on the car for everyday use, choosing to use it as their second car which they could show off to their friends and neighbors. That gave Musk the opportunity to learn how to manufacture cars efficiently and effectively, with the goal of producing cars for the masses in the future.

Musk focused on building competence in designing and delivering cars that buyers would want and could afford – and succeeded. In contrast, Agassi focused on battery switching, leaving him with only one automobile supplier – which provided only the “shell-of-a-car” running on someone else’s battery!

There are many ventures that teach us similar lessons. Webvan was one of the first delivery services for home goods. Despite raising a lot of money and hiring an experienced leadership team, it failed within a year, because it spent its money on distribution system warehouses, with a poorly designed scheduling system that made many deliveries unprofitable. Since then food and other home delivery services (e.g., Fresh Direct, Peapod, etc.) have learned the importance of smart user-friendly scheduling slots with profitability.

So before you launch your technology driven service, make sure you’re meeting customers’ immediate and long-term needs, profitably.  Use a “pre-mortem” to challenge your assumptions!

Increase Your Visibility

Are you one of the people/companies standing at the “post-pandemic” starting gate, anxious to gain new or increased business from potential clients? In this crowded field, it’s difficult to become visible and stand out in the crowd.   Here are some easy-to-follow rules that will help you succeed.

Two decades ago, when we launched Presentation Excellence to help presenters  who were already visible to close more deals,  we also launched PortfolioPR, an investor and public relations firm focused on the first problem: gaining visibility so you would be invited to make the presentation.  At the time, we created our own rules for doing so:

  • Conduct a perception scan – who knows about what you do and what do they really know
  • Determine a unique branding proposition to fill the blank
  • Present your brand in contexts where you’re different than the others around you
  • Reinforce your unique brand as often as necessary until feedback tells you that you’ve succeeded

For instance, a public company with a market capitalization of $500M, wanted to achieve a market capitalization of $1Billion+, so the largest investment banks would make investments.  The perception study told us that most potential investors didn’t know the company was even an option; they though other larger companies had acquired them years ago. At the time, the aerospace industry was in a recession and it provided products to the industry. But since it also provide other industry products, we branded the company as an expert in “highly-engineered solutions”. We promoted the company with a focus on the breadth of the product line, through a mix of public and private investor programs – which allowed us to engage in strategic partnerships with colleagues in all the industries. Eighteen months later, we accomplished the goal – and turned over the strategy to a newly created team within the company to continue the process.

Lee W. Frederiksen offers a different framework for professionals who want to increase visibility. In Visible Expert, he identifies four levels of expertise that a person can promote:

  1. The Resident Expert:  Establishing yourself as a thought leader and expert within your firm.  Focus on what you know and what people need, and keep developing outstanding content for anyone who reaches out to you.
  2. The Local Hero: With an eye on future career development, you begin to specialize within your domain of expertise. You rely on referrals, speaking engagements, social media and websites.
  3. The Rising Star: Using your entrepreneurial energy, you focus on your niche and start promoting yourself more actively to reach larger audiences and become recognized as a market leader.  Issuing white papers, publishing a book, participating in podcasts, etc., are strategies you use to create buzz.
  4. The Industry Rock Star: Visibility as an expert has taken a life of its own and continues to generate new opportunities. You become more selective in your niche expertise and audience, and channel existing buzz into reputation (and income) management.

Now is the time to launch your career or company growth. Harness the strategy that will enable you to achieve your goal of being a recognized expert and leader!

Communications Need to be Compelling

How compelling are your communications? While the focus of our work at Presentations Excellence is on helping leaders to deliver winning Board, sales, investor, marketing and organizational restructuring presentations, we’re often asked to help make the communications that lead up to the “big” presentation more compelling. If the email, panel speech, networking introduction, whitepaper, website, etc. don’t grab the audience’s attention, you may never get asked to make the presentation that wins a deal.

For instance, Erica Dhawan, author of Digital Body Language, recently surveyed 3,000 people in he US workforce and found that 70% reported poor digital communications to be a problem. The Digital Communications Crisis report estimated that lackluster communication resulted in an average of four hours wasted per week – valued at $188 Billion.

Some of the email-related solutions offered by experts (including Sam George who wrote I’ll Get Back to You: The Dyscommunication Crisis) include:

  • Craft more enticing subject lines. If a recipient doesn’t read your email right away, it’s likely to be ignored. Make them witty, engaging, personalized or urgent. Credibility and timing also matter
  • Pose questions and ask for simple yes or no answers, so the reader can decide whether he/she agrees with you.
  • Structure the message so it leads to the Course of Action that you want to the person to take: send more information or agree to attend to a meeting.
  • Address people by their first names; people are 27% more likely to open a personalized email.
  • Address the message to the user; remember, it’s not about you, it’s about the user.
  • Create visual impact by breaking up long emails into bite-size paragraphs and subheads. Instead of overly long paragraphs, use bullet points.
  • If you’re looking for a response, simplify the request so it’s almost effortless to do so.

Use these solutions to increase the power of your emails – and you’ll have more impact!

What’s the goal: Peak Performing Individuals or Teams

In the opening 2021 Olympics game of Basketball, there was a major “upset”. The US team, which won 25 consecutive games, and which had been referred to as “the dream team” because it included many of the best US players, lost to the unheralded French team.  However, one of the French team managers questioned whether it really was an “upset”, noting teams that forge strong bonds, as their team had over 10 years, generally outperform individual superstars who come together as a team.

In the second half of 2021, one of the biggest news items is the difficulty of companies to find qualified workers. Several reasons are given for this. Some people have decided to change jobs or leave the workforce post-pandemic, because they are more interested in following their passions and purposes; they’re not interested in returning to a pre-pandemic workplace, and/or they want substantial changes in compensation, working conditions, etc.  Thus, hiring managers are challenged to find qualified people among this new workforce.

Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, is famous for recommending we get the right people on the bus”, i.e., hire the right people for each job. The challenge is to identify the right characteristics for each person – are well looking for individual superstars or team players?

Similarly, Sutton and Rao, in Scaling Up Excellence note that people have unconscious biases and they may play a role. For instance, people tend to prefer to be around others who are similar to them; yet diversity matters. Linda Abraham, a co-founder of comScore, notes that hiring people like you can be “the worst thing for building out a team.”   “New mindsets, skills, and practices, travel faster and farther when team members have varied backgrounds, skills and viewpoints”.  If the goal is a team adept at solving problems and creativity, then you need a team of individuals with mutual respect – where they can “fight as if you are right and listen as if you are wrong.” That means standing up for what you believe until the evidence clearly shows you are wrong, and then admit that the other person is right.

In sum, before hiring for teams, identify the key attributes each member should have to both individually do his/her job and to help the team do its job. Be aware that that may mean tradeoffs are necessary for ultimate success.

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