If you’re going to do something, you might as well do it well. You might as well put 100% effort in. Or just don’t do it. I understand, this may seem quite obvious. But I am sure that you would be able to see, in various aspects of your life and your relationships, situations where someone could have done something a little better to achieve a different result.
I know that when faced with many beautiful or exciting options to consider, it is hard to say no. There are pressures to say yes too. But I believe that half-hearted is for the person who does not have a clear idea of the value of their time. Half-hearted is for the person who is still uncertain about their goals.
Think about that for a bit.
Once you know, once you really know what you want to do or at least know the areas you want to explore and the projects you want to dig into, there is no half-hearted, is there?
But I believe that half-hearted is for the person who does not have a clear idea of the value of their time. Half-hearted is for the person who is still uncertain about their goals.
So, let’s come back to the title, protect what you are building. What am I referring to about protecting?
When I first got on to LinkedIn, I was just having a play around. Back in 2007, this was just something shiny and new. I’l be completely honest here that I had no clue what I was doing with it. It seemed like a good idea and I was curious enough to give it a go (and curiosity is a useful trait).
It’s been 13 years, I can’t believe it. I have enjoyed my time on this platform. I have found it incredibly informative and useful. And I have used it to build more influence for myself in three important areas: a strong digital profile, a relevant and purposeful network and a deep body of work. With over 13k followers, I have been able to leverage this platform for business successfully.
I have come to realise the significance of not just having a digital presence but the value in maintaining that presence, in building on those early blocks and sustaining the effort. Having a LinkedIn profile is an incredibly important element in building your digital presence. This is a platform that brings together a relevant and sizeable community of people and is designed for work and business. But it demands of you a strategic approach to putting yourself out there, to building your network and then figuring out how to make sure the content you share supports you in all you do. And while I gush about it, I am also aware that things can change. Platforms come and go. Business models can morph and what will you be left holding? Which brings me to my point.
I create my own rules about what I post, how often and more importantly, I house everything that’s important and relevant to me.
Protect what you are building
LinkedIn is a third party platform because you do not own it. Let’s take me, for example. With www.rowenamorais.com, I own my own website. I create my own rules about what I post, how often and more importantly, I house everything that’s important and relevant to me.
This is my personal digital real estate.
However, with a LinkedIn account, I realise I can do pretty much all of the above regardless of whether I have a free or paid subscription. So why create a website when you can simply use LinkedIn or other social media to publish articles etc? I see my website as my house and LinkedIn or any kind of social media as the car – the distribution channel. Sure, I can live in my car if I wanted to but my house is more comfortable. My house is designed for living and can accommodate far more than my car can. The car is used to ferry me and things around. It brings things and people back to my house.
When you join a network like LinkedIn, you are joining a platform created by someone else, who will have their own set of rules and regulations about many things that affect the platform and the people who choose to use it.
Many of these rules serve to help you and the community at large. However, a good number of these rules are designed to support the platform holder necessarily. This can be a highly volatile environment as business is subject to all manner of change. Management teams come and go. Companies get sold, merge, change direction or worse, close down.
What changes am I talking about? Let’s highlight just one. In the past, you could back up your list of connections on LinkedIn. You could download this list as a spreadsheet and access it anytime easily. I used to do that as a precautionary measure. I had the full contact information of the contacts I developed.
However, over the years, LinkedIn has made it harder and harder for you to access your list of connections. Remember, that this is a list of people that you have painstakingly developed connections with one at a time. You earned this list, didn’t you?
It is far harder today to identify the settings where you can locate your contacts. You also now have to wait for a download link to be emailed to you. Importantly, you now only get a partial download. In the past, I was able to download everything about my contacts including their email address. Now, I get the contact information but not all the email addresses. Some of this is due to settings which the user controls but I also understand that given LinkedIn is driven by their subscription revenues, it has become necessary for them to put various measures in place.
As a platform matures, the ways in which the different elements within interact and are developed may also change. Existing features may be put aside or transformed. The challenge with this is that you often do not get a say in these rules and changes. You may make certain decisions about what aspects you want to invest your time in only to discover that these features or elements may be taken away. In effect, your work is riding on what’s developed by someone else.
Invest in building your own platform
Having your own digital real estate can be a true and lasting competitive advantage especially if you regard developing your professional profile as a key priority. This has grown in significance due to the rise of the gig economy, the increase in remote work opportunities and with the coronavirus pandemic, the need for a clear digital profile has become paramount. This is true for entrepreneurs and consultants but just as much so for ambitious professionals everywhere.
I believe everyone should have their own personal website especially if they are concerned about developing their professional brand and concerned about their career progression. When change occurs on external platforms, you may be one of the last to know. Keeping this possibility in mind will help you take the necessary steps to protect yourself.
So even as you consider the need for a personal website, there are many things you need to do to protect what you are building on LinkedIn. These four ideas below are key when you are starting out. This is not an exhaustive list but let’s get these out of the way.
Four ways to protect what you are building
1. Conduct periodic checks
Check your LinkedIn account settings. Understand what’s been put in place by default and make the necessary adjustments. There is a range of settings to get on top of, across your account, in terms of privacy and ads and then, in terms of communication.
Even if this is something you did at the start, this is worth revisiting every six to nine months to recalibrate.
2. Save your list of connections and important content
A key part of having a LinkedIn profile is building your connections on the network. Set aside time periodically to export your list of connections. Should you lose your first degree connections in any way, you would have this list available to you in another format.
Despite the limitations I outlined, this is still a worthwhile activity. In the same way, maintain a backup of the articles you publish on LinkedIn either as Word documents or re-publish them on a different platform (recommended). Ensure that when you republish it that you mention where it was originally published as well (good SEO practice).
3. Maintain the connection you have established
Find ways to extend or build on the connections you have created. There are many ways you can do this. Drop them an email. Set up a time for an introductory call. Plan a face to face catch up over coffee. For those who are in the same city, face to face may present a more authentic way to connect especially if lockdowns and restrictions have been eased in your city.
That said, you cannot invest all of your time on these connections. It would better serve you to look through your list of connections, segment them by geography so that you can evaluate how many live in your city and prioritise the ones you believe are worth reaching out to in the first instance. Then, begin that engagement.
The face to face connection can be extremely powerful in solidifying the impression you’re looking to create with others and presents a unique opportunity to understand who you are connecting with. It allows for opportunities to better surface once the other party (and yourself) has a better understanding of who they are connected to.
For others who may be located in different cities or countries, all is not lost. Connections can still be easily firmed up through a phone call. Zoom or Skype video calls can easily be done at little to no cost and definitely worth considering. It helps you build up that engagement and authenticity that is so easily lost when the conversations are not done face to face.
I focus on two ways to build a relevant purposeful network. First, I spend at least 10 – 15 minutes daily to search and filter through relevant people and then reach out to connect. I spend time tweaking my outreach message so that it is effective in supporting me. Second, I find ways to add value so I create more than one reason for why someone should connect. This I do by writing articles and short posts on the areas that I support. It bears repeating that the activities you embark on need to be driven by your clearly established goals.
How might you begin? Be clear about what your profile needs to represent and how you need to come across. Once you’ve done that, evaluate the target audience you are looking to bring around you.
- Who are these people in terms of job titles, the cities they are based in, their age and gender?
- What kind of jobs would they typically have?
- What industries might they work in?
- What are some of the questions they would likely ask of you?
- What problems are you looking to solve for them?
- Where are they likely to hang out?
- What’s a good hook to get them interested in me?
- What can I offer that on the outset looks good enough to get curious about?
- What could I say to them in my very first message that will make them say, “Why not?”
- When searching through LinkedIn, what are some of the search filters I need to use?
- What sort of lists should I maintain?
- What steps can I take to ensure I keep getting a steady flow of new contacts to reach out to?
- What can I do to simplify and automate some of these tasks?
- As much as possible, how can I continue to stay visible and relevant?
These questions can go on and on. And as you develop your services in niches, these questions can probe even deeper, providing an even more compelling proposition.
A technique that I find works well is to put yourself in the shoes of another. Pretend you’re a recruiter looking at your profile. Or a hiring manager. Or a business owner or a role you consider important in your line of work.
Immerse yourself in that character and ask yourself what you’d be thinking about when you see a profile like yours.
- What does the profile convey?
- What are your key concerns?
- What are you hoping to discover in the profile?
- What would you be looking at when considering the person for hire or for a project?
Putting yourself in the other person’s shoes may be one of the best ways to ensure the profile you develop hits the mark. It may also serve you well in your outreach efforts and how you develop your body of work.
Be patient and develop a plan. Through this, you will come up with the right questions for yourself but these here are a good starting point.
4. Develop an online presence in multiple ways
I strongly recommend that you build your own digital platform in addition to creating a LinkedIn profile. Whether you decide on a simple website or blog, it is an opportunity for you to create a house for all your work and creations. Similarly, it makes it easier for you to develop a community around a topic you care about. Having your own platform is simply good risk management.
If you like this post, I hope you will share it. If you need help with your profile, building your network or getting started with writing, please to reach out.
#LinkedIn #career #goals #influence #digitalprofile #networking
Headline image courtesy Ryoji Iwata on Unsplash.
Programme Director at VerticalDistinct.com, a media and learning organisation, Rowena Morais provides support through curated learning, communication and content development. She supports HR and Tech professionals through digital resources and internationally accredited programmes delivered across APAC and the Middle East. Author of Build a Body of Work, Rowena was Founding Editor of HR Matters Magazine in Malaysia for eight years. A LinkedIn profile writer, ghostwriter and editor, she helps organisations and senior executives with communication, branding and content development. Over the last decade, she has been helping people refine their LinkedIn profiles and digital presence. Rowena runs meetups for HR folk and career women in both Kuala Lumpur and Canberra. Invited to the TEDx stage twice, Rowena delivers workshops on leveraging LinkedIn and has a Skillshare class, Build Influence through LinkedIn. You get two months premium membership free when you sign up on Skillshare where you can take her class and more – visit https://skl.sh/2KqhEfp