Article written by Iris Culp
If you are a Boomer, (hey, I am😊!) this checklist is to help avoid the most common “potholes” on the always evolving LinkedIn platform. This vitally important business and professional networking platform has earned a unique role in the world and it seems poised to be a growth giant long into the future! Microsoft acquired it for $26.2 BILLION for a reason.
Let’s look at what the Boomer group values, as a whole and these common pitfalls in branding ourselves become pretty logical. Here is a quick summary below.
What are the characteristics of the Baby Boomer generation?
- Independent. Baby Boomers are confident, independent, and self-reliant. …
- Strong Work Ethic. Baby boomers aren’t afraid to put in a hard day of work. …
- Self-Assured. This generation is independent and self-assured. …
- Competitive. …
LinkedIn has become a complete personal branding vehicle that works with its own set of rules. LinkedIn is a showcase opportunity for you to illustrate your professional reputation (aka – personal brand).
So, let’s get to a list to check below to ensure you are making or sidestepping these crucial mistakes that are common for Boomers:
- Emphasis on years, rather than impact and results
- Treating the profile as once and done
- Under thinking images (e.g. profile & LinkedIn banner)
- Default headline
- Outdated “about” sections
- Treating the experience section as a resume replica
- Ignoring online personal branding realities
Let’s explore these crucial mistakes; why they need to be avoided and what to do instead.
Emphasis on Years, Rather than Impact
It’s tempting to lean into the tons of experience and lead with that, thinking it automatically qualifies for a win. Big emphasis on years sends the completely WRONG MESSAGE. Expertise that stays current in today’s fast moving marketplace is what does matter.
Lead with statements that focus on results you’ve delivered for clients and customers.
Include bottom line impact and transformation your efforts delivered. Think along the lines of “what have you done for me lately” or similar. For a profile to get found in the busy marketplace that LinkedIn is today, think about making the profile very clear in speaking directly to the ideal client and their “pain” points.
It’s useful to take the approach of thinking “why does the reader care?”. If your profile doesn’t provide a strong and compelling answer to this question, they won’t care and keep on scrolling by.
Entrepreneurs, your profile needs to communicate value in a “client-facing” style business language.
Include distinct, measurable deliverables, efficiencies, impacts, and clients wins. Be personable, relatable and invite connection. It takes effort to quantify results, but think of your overall profile as a mini marketing brochure and make sure the language resonates in today’s market in a crisp and compelling way. Your profile should not sound or be like anyone else’s out there.
Once and Done Treatment
Remember that your profile should tell the story of where you’ve been, where you are now, and where you want to be in the future. LinkedIn works best if you treat it as a living document that should be updated and refined on a regular basis. Us Boomers grew up in an era where documents were made “picture perfect” and then remained static. Social media is anything but static and LinkedIn is a social platform. Continuing to evolve and iterate new elements is expected now (and the algorithm will respond favorably). Make sure to set aside time to review and update about once per quarter. LinkedIn is making constant changes, so there may be new features you discover when you do a quarterly or bi-annual check up.
Keep your LinkedIn profile current. Don’t let it go stale. Make sure your profile reflects what you do now, not what you did five years ago. Update your headline, summary, work experience, education, skills, and interests. Add new information about yourself and your career. Include any awards, honors, publications, and certifications. Share photos of yourself doing things you enjoy. Be sure to include links to your website, blog, social media profiles, and any other online presence you have.
Relevant Professional Images
Your headshot IS essential. Think of it as a virtual handshake. It lasts a lifetime. Okay, I get that. While we may not feel as comfortable in front of the camera as today’s digital natives, it’s important that we get professional and thoughtful images taken in the profile space and in the banner image behind it, so that our clients know who they are dealing with. Please do not crop a group photo from any wedding. If you make this mistake, it communicates volumes about how you view yourself professionally. Here is a great guide article on how to get a professional looking headshot without spending a fortune.
Banner images are often an underused space with images that are simply not reinforcing the brand message. It is such a highly impactful space. Think of it as a complimentary “billboard” opportunity. It literally is. Choose, create or have a customized banner image created for you. Doing so helps clarify your professional expertise in a way that nothing else can.
Here are some examples worth considering. The images you choose for this worldwide business professional and networking platform are high impact. The customized banner or “cover image” creates a first impression for the reader with direct reflection and implications to your personal brand. Ask yourself, “What is the first impression of your business leadership worth?” Don’t skimp here. Here is a Forbes article that shares other ideas to consider.
Default Headline as a Job Title – Don’t Do It: Get Targeted Instead
If you focus only on the current role and things change in some way (acquisition, merger, etc.), the mountain to climb is huge. While it can be overcome with an intelligent strategy, gaining momentum becomes harder than it should be.
Don’t default to a current job description or use buzzwords like “guru” or complex sounding titles. The “thing” you do and who you work for should be understood in under four seconds. Create an effective headline that summarizes your specialty, results and ideally who your target audience is (if you’re targeting a specific group). Your headline is also the most keyword sensitive part of your profile. You might wish to reverse engineer this concept, and think about if someone was looking for the exact results and expertise you deliver – what title or keywords would they enter into Google to find you? Consider your headline as some words plastered on a billboard, passing by in just a few seconds as you drive along the highway on a 12-hour cross country journey. It needs to be succinct, clear, and compelling!
Outdated About Section
LinkedIn is a social platform, so it’s best to use “I” in an informal tone. No third-person references anymore. If you are not clear and specific on the pain points you have solved for your company and clients, then it’s simply not serving you well.
As a reader peruses your profile, provide a compelling collection of details that create a mental picture of the specific problems you solve. In the About Section, it’s helpful to use a structure, or it can seem overwhelming to begin.
One quick format outline that you can use as a beginning point is:
- What you do
- How you do that
- What makes you unique
- What others have said
- Services provided
- What results you have delivered
You can start from that format with a relatable, logical flow of sentences that blend in a bit of your personal style, whether it be humor, community involvement or anything that fits your individualistic way.
A well crafted “About” section in your profile will cause someone to actually feel like they got to know you somewhat. That unique combination and blend of knowledge and experiences will never fit anyone else. Keep that in mind.
Treating experience section like a resume replica
As an entrepreneur, the ideal use of the experience section is to also make this a client facing read, with details of results you’ve delivered for past clients and employers.
The experience section is best done with a firm focus on what you’ve achieved and results delivered. Include distinct measurables and quantify whenever possible. Perhaps share details of interesting projects and key accomplishments.
You want to have it serve you well as you leverage all aspects of your profile, including publications, volunteer work, perhaps hobbies that showcase your dedication, or if it’s one that relates to your profession in some way (aka, mechanical engineer who rebuilds classic cars, etc.).
It is easy to notice how up to date (or not) you are in using LinkedIn. That awareness or lack of it, speaks volumes. There is interest to see how professionally engaged and current you are within your industry. Most often that is done via LinkedIn today.
Ignoring the reality of Online Personal Branding
As mentioned above, the rules of engagement have changed and while a resume is still important in its own right, the LinkedIn platform has become like the “Amazon of the B2B” (business to business) space.
Most Boomers are not fond of personal branding. Generally, discretion, aka not attention-getting, has pretty much been our credo, right?
Don’t want to have an online brand? Too late, you already do.
Google yourself. You have a brand, though it may be an unintentional one. Well, that type of thinking is a big mistake today. Don’t allow your online image and brand to be a conglomeration of what others compile, or what you haphazardly posted on LinkedIn a while back.
You have an online brand, whether intentional or not. It’s now pivotal for your business and you to thoughtfully develop a cohesive and compellingly written personal brand message. Click Resources to help you get started with building that brand in an authentic way that fits your approach.
Let’s take a look at just a few reasons why your brand matters:
- 64% of consumers would buy from a brand or boycott it solely because of its position on a social or political issue. (Source)
- 89% of customers stay loyal to a brand that shares their values. (Source)
- Consistent branding can boost revenue by up to 33%. (Source)
- 89% of marketers say that brand awareness is their top goal. (Source)
- 77% of leaders say that a strong brand is critical to their growth plans. (Source)
- 60% of millennial consumers expect a consistent brand across all channels. (Source)
- 91% of consumers express preference to buy from an authentic brand. (Source)
- 82% of investors desire to invest in a firm with a strong brand. (Source)
Take time to review and update your profile regularly. Think of who would be looking for your expertise and be certain to use those keywords liberally throughout your profile. Linkedin works on keywords, so be certain to strategically include those throughout your profile to make it easy to find someone with your expertise. Make certain you don’t step into the stereotype of being out of touch on the most important business networking platform in the world. A complete, up to date, engaging profile tells the world that you’re doing business and open for opportunities.