LinkedIn – Are You Looking for New Clients or a New Job?



Staying in Touch w/ LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a great tool as far as I am concerned.  It allows me to connect with old friends, people I’ve lost track of over the years, and to establish new contacts without having to remember to get cards from everyone.  When people leave a job, I know about it, and when I meet someone in a meeting, I can learn more about them online.  If you’re in sales, you need a LinkedIn account – but I think most people know that.  What you might not be thinking about is, what is your LinkedIn profile for  -who is your audience and who did you write for?  In other words, do you have the right message on your current profile?

New Job vs. New Client

The answer should vary.  There will be times when you need a new job.  If that’s the case, you probably want to rework your summary and job descriptions to match what an employer would be looking for.  However, that same information might not be the best value proposition for meeting new clients.  For instance, you do want your prospective employer to be reading about your sales achievements – but when talking to prospects, it’s better to highlight your ability to advise people on specific technology decisions and to communicate your value as an adviser to a client.

Is Your Profile a Resume?

Most of the LinkedIn profiles I review read like a resume – they tell a story of sales achievements.  I read things like, “Made presidents club, or achieved 2X of my quota.”  Something tells me that your prospective customer doesn’t care about that.  If you have a good job, change your LinkedIn profile – tell people what you are doing to meet needs.  Share areas of expertise, interest, and helpfulness.  State your customer facing mission, sound helpful, and communicate your core areas of expertise.  This is what your upcoming meeting participants want to know.

Also, remember that LinkedIn is searchable.  Using key words such as vendor product names and technology trends like “Big Data” can help others find you in an overcrowded marketplace.

How to Speak – Be Social

Speak in first person – since this is not a formal resume, don’t make it into one.  LinkedIn is social media, so be social.   Share what you are passionate about.  If you’re on your way to a meeting – chances are  people will be looking you up before you arrive.  What would you like them to know about you?  It’s always helpful to have some content out there that generates discussion.  Consider filling in your favorite books, activities, and other personal items that allow people to connect with you.  Of course you want to avoid giving out personal information, but if you’re in sales, you need enough to advertise yourself.

But don’t blow your own horn.  If you sound like a know-it-all, you’ll turn people off.  If you have done some great things, it will be evident in the stories you share – but constantly tooting your horn can be annoying.  If you have publications or credentials, you want to list them, but you don’t need to say, “I am the best”.  Everyone knows you wrote your own descriptions, so there is not use is write accolades in the third person.  When I read, “Bob is customer driven, responsive, and ….”.  I know Bob wrote it…so now I am thinking, wow, Bob really likes himself.  But, Bob also sounds like every other sales person.

I’d rather read something like, “I believe my client’s deserve my attention…I believe there are better ways to make this or that happen, etc.”  What do you believe, and how do you live it.  These core values may be some of the best value you can write about.  Write it, live it, prove it, and get your references to endorse it.

© 2013, David Stelzl


3 thoughts on “LinkedIn – Are You Looking for New Clients or a New Job?

  1. Dave, thank you for what you shared about Linked-In. You offer some good advice. However, your blog brought to mind the futility of “trying to be all things to all people” (at the same time anyway). Unfortunately, Linked-In has such a variety of audiences – all with such varying agendas (from both sides of the fence) – that it forces the Linked-In profiler into trying to accomplish a whole lot of different things – all at the same time!

    In today’s “Unemployment” world, Linked-In is being pushed as the ultimate (next to networking). It can, indeed, be difficult for the person on Linked-In to walk the tight rope balancing act. The unemployed are being told to use a resume to show “accomplishments”, not job descriptions; and for some of them Linked-In is like an electronic resume. A Linked-In account can also be used to connect with potential business clients, if a person is already established and can be the social medium of connecting with friends, former co-workers, etc. (as you mentioned).

    It’s certainly unstandable that things could come across differently to different people (depending, on why the person is checking out Linked-In to start with). Bottom line – it isn’t easy for the person putting a profile on Linked-In. There’s such a sensitive balancing act to be done, if they plan to be the most effective – with the most amount of people.

    Simply put – the tried and true rule of – “to thine own self be true” may just be the answer for someone posting on Linked-In (and, beyond that, leave the interpretation to the viewers), because Truth always sets a person free.

    1. Thanks for your comments Carol. Yes, I recommend being absolutely honest on your profile. This post is more about knowing the audience you are writing to. No different than you would reword an article on education depending on whether or not you were looking to reach supportive parents or motivate actual students.

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