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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

A long time friend and colleague of mine is interviewing – so what does he do?  First he finds out who he will be interviewing with, then he heads to Linkedin to prepare.  Using the search features, he locates the people he’ll be interviewing with.  Since he upgraded, he can now see full profiles of people he is not linked to, allowing him to learn about their backgrounds, expertise, favorite books, and perhaps hobbies and interests.  Then going on to advanced searches, with his upgrade in hand, he can search for other titles within the company, learning more about the organization, who he might want to know more about during the interview process, and perhaps some of the people he knows, who are linked to people he’ll be meeting with.  From there, a few emails or phone calls may give him the insider advantage.  How about sales?

Are you leveraging this tool before going out on sales calls? It’s no different than my colleagues interview – he’s on a sales call just like you.  As I connect with different people I am finding many sales people are not keeping up their profiles, adding contacts, and doing everything they can to research upcoming meetings, while also creating an attractive profile for themselves online.  Two things you must do: Prepare for sales calls using the advanced features of LinkedIn, doing everything you can to learn about the people you will be meeting with.  Secondly, make sure you are up to date and attractive – assume those you are meeting with are checking you out online.  If you don’t have a great picture, get one.  Meeting someone with a face in mind makes a difference too.

© David Stelzl, 2010

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