Since I started my career on LinkedIn, one of my passions (and focus) has been helping women use LinkedIn more effectively, including what they should and should not be doing; how their innate skills make them amazing users, curators and creators of social media content; and how some of the more common traits of many women might be holding them back.
One thing I have found — and I know I am generalizing a great deal — is that many women tend more toward care-taking than self-promotion, both in life and in the world of social media. Yes, some of the smartest and most savvy marketing people I know are women. But when working one-on-one with some amazing female entrepreneurs I’ve had the privilege of knowing, I often come up against: “I could never say that about me — that’s bragging!”
You know what? Brag away!
Get over the little ole’ me syndrome
Ugh. Enough already. You are awesome! Claim it!
I have no doubt that if you Google something like “Find self-esteem in five easy steps,” you’ll find dozens of websites that can help you build your self esteem. Trust me, how you are in real life will be reflected in your LinkedIn profile. Make sure you feel confident so that you portray confidence!
Do you want to feel more successful and create a more confident voice on LinkedIn? Then read Gail McMeekin’s The 12 Secrets of Highly Successful Women (Red Wheel/Weiser, 2012).
I read a lot, attend workshops, and work with a coach. If money is an issue, there are many free resources you can find to get over whatever is keeping you from fully acknowledging the awesomeness that you are. If you have low self-esteem and low confidence, or you’re stuck in caretaking mode, you need to shake it off and find your stride in order to be more successful on LinkedIn. And in life.
LinkedIn is a tool that allows you to promote yourself, your business, and your products and services. Don’t be shy. Tell your audience why they should work for, buy from, or hire you. Tell them what you bring to the table that no one else does.
Invest in yourself when it comes to your profile photo. That glamour shot from your high school graduation is not going to cut it on LinkedIn. If you can, spend some money and get a professional photographer to take your profile shots. By professional photo I don’t mean a hokey background and paste-it-on smile. I mean investing in a professional photographer who’s got the right lighting, the right angles, and the knowledge to make you look your best.
If you don’t have a lot of money to spend on a professional photographer, then keep an eye out for special deals online. I often see offers for photo sessions at a fraction of the cost.
If you don’t have any money to invest in yourself for a professional photo session, then at the very least find a friend with a digital camera, spend some time on your hair and makeup, find a place you love, and have your friend take dozens of pictures of you. Choose the best one.
If you’re not a fan of your body, don’t worry about it. The best LinkedIn photograph is a close-up of your face. Smile from the inside. As hokey as it sounds, it really comes across.
Get used to yourself on video. I know this is hard for many of us…myself included. But this is a world of video: videos on YouTube, videoconference calls, video chats, Skype, Google+ hangouts and so on. We have got to get used to what we look like on film. What can you video?
- If you are a speaker or trainer, get some videos of yourself doing your thing.
- If you are a consultant, shoot some video of your work with a client (make sure no proprietary information gets shared without consent).
- If you are a job seeker, put together a video résumé.
- If you are an executive, speak to your clients and customers about the benefit of hiring your company.
- If you have a product, let your customers know why they should buy it.
Many laptops have video cameras built in, and many even come with software. When no one is looking, start making videos of yourself. Test out lighting, test out angles, test out clothing choices, test out makeup and hair choices. And when you’re ready, shoot a short video that you can use on your LinkedIn profile.
I got one of my biggest speaking gigs to date because of the video on my LinkedIn profile.
If you can afford a professional videographer, that’s a great route to go. If you’ve had professional video taken of you, by all means post that video on your LinkedIn profile.
Until my PR firm Hellerman Baretz shot an amazing professional video of me, I used the video I shot and edited on my Mac, sitting in my living room.
By the way, that was the video that got me the gig. You don’t necessarily need a crew of eight, a make-up person, and a green screen. You need just a willingness to invest some time and shoot, reshoot, and reshoot until you are happy with the results.
I know, as a woman, that video can be downright scary. It doesn’t add 10 pounds—I’m pretty sure it adds 30. But we just have to get over it. And get that video up there!
Give yourself credit
Don’t be afraid to give yourself credit for your accomplishments. Don’t be shy of posting awards, honors, or any kind of mention of your magnificence! Too many women have the “little ol’ me” syndrome, and you know what? It just doesn’t fly on LinkedIn. You need to be confident in who you are, the business you work in, and the products and services you sell. If you’re a job seeker, trust me, this confidence comes across—even in a text-based site like LinkedIn.
Don’t be afraid to position yourself as an expert or thought leader. That’s not to say you need to put expert or guru next to your name like I did (although there’s no better way of getting over “little ol’ me” syndrome than publicly acknowledging your expertise in a public area like social media!). But don’t be shy about posting articles, sharing flattering articles about yourself, pictures of the awards you’ve won, or examples of your work. Just upload them using the rich media button in Summary, Experience and Education.
Share the successes you’ve had and the honors you’ve won in LinkedIn’s honors and awards sections. Don’t be shy. You’ve earned them!
And as for recommendations, if you have done good work then the person who hired you should be OK with writing you a testimonial. You might need to remind them what you did and give them some talking points but go ahead anyway and ask for the recommendation. It can’t hurt and will certainly help your profile.
If you are having a hard time representing yourself in your best light, ask you friends and clients what they like best about you. Use their words to create the Professional headline, Summary and Experience sections that represent you in the best light.
My friend Dennis Moss (who is obviously not a woman, but I like this anyway) wrote in his Summary section, “Why you should hire me—(Things I Can’t Say About Myself:)” and then listed several short testimonials. How brilliant. Let other people brag on you!
- Make sure you have a flattering picture (and don’t overexpose your assets!).
- Make sure your profile is complete.
- Make sure your profile represents you in the best light.
- Make sure your profile represents all your honors and awards.
- Use your website to post flattering articles written by or for you.
- Mention social media mentions of you.
- Showcase your work.
- Showcase yourself in a video using the media add button.
- Don’t be afraid to speak your mind in status updates and group discussions.
- Stick to your guns! Not everyone is going to agree with everything you say all the time. In fact, Gail McMeekin suggests that the more successful you become, the more people are likely to attack. So stay strong!
- Don’t be a victim to “Little Ol’ Me” syndrome.
- Get help if you need it (there are lots of women and mentors on LinkedIn who can help you).
- Join the group “Connect: Professional Women’s Network.” I just discovered it and I love it!
Viveka von Rosen is author of LinkedIn Marketing: An Hour a Day and is known internationally as the “LinkedIn Expert”. CEO of Linked Into Business and co-founder of LinkedProspecting, she also hosts the biggest LinkedIn chat on Twitter and co-moderates LinkedStrategies, the largest LinkedIn strategy group on LinkedIn. She was also listed as Forbes 20 Most Influential Women in Social Media (2011, 2012, 2013), and she has been cited in Money Magazine, Simple Living, Ragan, CNN, Forbes, Mashable, The Miami Herald, Social Media Today and The Social Media Examiner.