Presentations and Communication

Is An Outdated LinkedIn Profile Negatively Impacting Your Career?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 What your profile says about you supports your personal brand and credibility as a speaker, and if it’s outdated, that credibility can be damaged. Consider the following reactions to outdated profile content: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 Outdated information doesn’t position you well for anything – future speaking engagements, network growth, internal opportunities, business referrals, potential jobs,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.

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!

When Context Matters, Win with ADAP

First, thanks for sharing: We love it when Presentation Excellence members share with us their example of how our ADAP formula (Audience-Driven, Authentic Presentations) solves a presenters’ dilemma. When people make presentations, we focus on content, format, media, and delivery skills; but sometimes the key to impact requires focusing on Context.

Investor Business daily recently shared an observation by Retired General Stanley McChrystal (who led the successful “surge” in the Iraq war) on leadership.  “Leaders have got to be able to understand the context in which they’re operating. You lead a group of soldiers differently on Monday morning than you do Friday afternoon.”

For those of us who are “office warriors”, we know that’s true. People come to work at the beginning of a week, looking forward to starting a productive week. By Friday, their focus is more likely to be bringing the week to a successful conclusion. When we started in Vietnam, there was all kinds of optimism and a willingness to keep investing in the cause. In the end, we just wanted to get out quickly. We’re seeing a similar scenario in Afghanistan.

It made me think of how I train my presentation warriors to win their battles when their goal is to motivate and energize an audience. Here are three examples.

·   If possible, pick a time slot when the audience is most receptive to engaging with you. For instance, the first speaker at a conference has that advantage. Whereas the speaker after lunch is likely to have a more distracted (and tired) audience. And if you’re chosen for that slot, you need to compensate by creating keeping your audience engaged. (At a conference for emerging growth companies, they asked me to be the key after-lunch speaker. Why that slot? “Because you know how to engage a lethargic audience.” (They were right, by getting off the podium and walking around the audience and I stayed energized.)

·   As an IR specialist, I help CEOs design powerful investor presentations. At an investor conference, speakers usually get a 30-minute slot. My clients usually present for 20 minutes so the audience can ask the questions we want them to ask, and demonstrate our expertise. However, in about 25% of the cases, something changes the schedule (e.g., a fire drill, equipment failures). Most presenters then rush their 25-30 minute presentation in the 15-minute allotment – and are less effective. My clients use a second, 15 minute, presentation that is power-packed and eliminates the need to rush. The contrast blows the audience away!

·   An executive engaged us to solve a problem: survival. His department was being moved; one potential supervisor was a fan of his; the other wasn’t. His once chance to influence the decision was at the upcoming Board meeting at which he was going to present for the first time ever. After working on the presentation itself, we took a look at the meeting room. The Board table had 40 seats, with the chairman at one end and the speaker platform at the other. We needed to bring the two together. So we arranged for him to stand at the middle of the table – bring in him closer to the Chairman and also to the Executive for whom he wanted to work. As a result, all three were engaged in the conversation that accompanied the presentation – and he became his boss. (Unfortunately, a few years later, that boss left and he moved to the other person’s division – and was let go within months!)

So, when you plan your presentation focus on the presentation itself, your skills, the audience’s needs, and the context in which the presentation will occur. Do it right, and the ADAP formula will work for you, too!

It’s Time to Increase Your Executive Presence

You’ve always needed a strong Executive Presence to Influence people. Now is the time to make sure your effort is on full-throttle.

Throughout the second half of this year, people are returning to offices based on one of the many patterns that management chooses. During this “fluid” stage of the post-pandemic period, lots of “return-to-work” models will be adopted. Like water that “settles”, this offers an opportunity for company and individual experimentation to determine what  is the best policy for safety, individual lifestyle and corporate performance, team collaboration, innovation, and longer-term profitability. Our team has been monitoring the many changes in prior stages of the pandemic since March of 2020, and will continue to do so.

There are two key things you need to concern yourself with during the “fluid” stage.

  • With a distributed work pattern – some at home and some in the office, micro-management of individuals won’t work. Instead workers should adopt self-management systems so they are “accountable for success” in their jobs. We have to execute on the company’s strategy for performance, culture and leadership. We also need to keep our eye on professional and personal growth by improving our skills in areas where we want to make more valuable contributions.  (We’ll soon be posting information on the web about our “Accountable for Success” (A4S) system that gives the worker-supervisor team tools they can use to do so. (To request advance information, send a note to JerryCahn@PresentationExcellence.com.)
  • Second, this is the opportunity to step-up your Executive Presence, so you can make a larger difference in your company and industry. Now that we’re going to interact with others both virtually and digitally, this is the time to make sure you’re projecting your expertise and forge important new relationships.

Dr. Brooke Vuckovic, a clinical professor of leadership at the Kellogg School recently noted in a podcast, that “Executive presence doesn’t measure your merit. It doesn’t measure that intellect or horsepower; it measures your capacity to translate out all of your creativity, all of your good ideas, all of your deep expertise.” She offers this formula: “Executive presence is equal to credibility, plus ease, divided by ego.”

For those of you who have been following us for years know, our formula for winning presenters is to deliver ADAP: Audience-Driven, Authentic Presentations. Once you’ve developed expertise, you always need to present it authentically. To influence each audience, you need to control the content and format of the message and the format, style and power of delivery to resonate with the audience’s ability to receive the message and perceive you as trustworthy, credible and expert.

Listen to the podcast and use this opportunity to increase your executive presence!  Attend one of our workshops or request coaching if you think it will help. Remember, often you only get one opportunity to make a superb first impression!

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