What's Your LinkedIn Style?


Once in a while, I get it wrong.

It's true. I think I have a client figured out - I've interviewed them, gone line-by-line through their resumes, LinkedIn profiles, and questionnaires and spent hours reading their posts, comments and articles on social media and print. I've researched the groups they belong to, the companies they work at, and the schools they've attended. I sort the stories of their careers and lives into logical and relevant order, and then sit down to write a bang-up bio that I'm sure is the embodiment of their personality, passion, and essence. Then I hit Send and wait.

Typically, what follows are oooh's and ahhh's, but now and again, it doesn't happen that way. Sometimes it's a clipped "thank you, but no thank you," or worse – silence.

A short while ago, I experienced one of those "thank you, but no thank you" responses. It hurt, but after licking my wounds for a day or so, I mustered the courage to ask what I'd done wrong. Thank goodness, she – a job seeker - was honest enough to tell me why and then kind enough to give me another try.

My second shot at her bio hit the bullseye. She couldn't have been happier, and I learned two valuable lessons.

Lesson 1 – The Sliding Scale

While I'd captured her essence the first time around, I misinterpreted the way she wanted to show up online. Instead of writing in a business-to-person journalistic style, I did the opposite - a person-to-business style that, from her point of view, felt overly friendly and less professional.

Marketers, recruiters, and consumer advocates tell us that people-focused storytelling has become one of the most powerful selling tools out there. And they're right! Stories capture interest, create an instant bond between individuals and their audience, and foster long-term relationships.

But here's the thing. The right mix of business and storytelling is a sliding scale determined by industry norms, roles, risk aversion, and personal choice. Had I presented my client with examples of successful professional bios from both ends of the spectrum at the get-go, she could have effectively decided on the style that suited her business persona and comfort zone. (and I would have written one bio instead of 2!)

Lesson 2 – The Rabbit Hole

As a rule, writers are reflective, curious, and sensitive, which is both good and bad. Good if you use your feelings, insight, and love of learning to drive you forward, but bad if you let the rejection take you down a rabbit hole, never to emerge - again.

I've crawled into those dark places a few times, eventually peeking out to scan the landscape for signs of danger. But writing a million or two words over time, and by facing the scary stuff - like asking for and accepting feedback - has helped me build resilience, hone my craft, and hang onto great customers time and again.

Yes, it was hard to make that phone call, but it kept me out of the rabbit hole one more time.

Lynne helps businesses of all size achieve a consistent and powerful brand on LinkedIn through story and written content. She is the founder of westwriter.today and an expert business writer, and workshop facilitator, specializing in LinkedIn profiles, resumes, blogs, and copy. She lives in Victoria, BC, Canada.

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