Just Be You!

Well, it has been a great first half of 2012! After spending time on-site at many of our client’s facilities around the world, and visiting with thousands of people at various conferences and events… I have met a lot of new people! I love that. And, I love the little extra that we get now in our relationship-building repertoire: the ability to “connect” on social media to “cement” our in-person relationship for an eternity thereafter. What normally happens is that I will meet someone new, and either I or the person whom I meet, will follow up with an email thankful for the meeting. Then, a simple LinkedIn request may come or even a Twitter follow request. I love this part because instead of the old business card, I now have that person’s living, breathing, online “persona” to contemplate after my first brief meeting (and they have mine). I can see who they know, where they may have worked, or what they may have done, that might in-fact, create more opportunities for conversation.

One of the things I have noticed recently about this process, is something that really bothers me. I know, I should not let little things bother me like this… but here goes: Why do people create online LinkedIn profiles that don’t match their personality? Even more specifically, what’s up with people writing their profile narrative in the third person? What Jeremy is trying to say is, when people you meet in person are friendly, gregarious, engaging, and humorous… why aren’t those qualities written into their online profile. Why does Jeremy meet someone who is like that only to read their online profile to see that it is written in the third person and in a formal way that reads more like an online bio then a profile of a real live person? Think about it… its surreal to me.

You should know that generally, I don’t accept a LinkedIn connection request from someone whom I don’t know. What I mean is that I need to have met someone personally before I connect with them. (I don’t believe in the “open networker” philosophy– and that’s a whole other post– I believe in the true integrity of the LinkedIn tool: I am connected to people whom I actually know!) So, when I look at someone’s LinkedIn profile, I often am shocked at how different their online persona is compared to the person I met live. In so many cases recently, I have met someone who is casual, fun, and filled with gregarious humor, only to get a LinkedIn request with their profile written in the third person as if they were writing some kind of online epitaph. Why do people do that? Why can’t you “just be you”?

Shouldn’t your online persona at least mimic your real personality? Sure, LinkedIn is a professional network, but that does not mean that professional equals “formal”. Why can’t professional equal “casual” or even “fun” along with other meaty stuff that you want people to see? Why can’t you “just be you”? I know people view their LinkedIn profile as a resume out there for anyone to see and possibly grab for some kind of commercial benefit…but can’t we have a world where we can show a little more of our real personality in our professional profile? I know recruiters, hiring managers, and others do appreciate the opportunity to get even a glimpse of personality from viewing an online profile– sure, don’t go overboard with coarse language, unprofessional statements, etc. But, at least write the profile in a conversational way, in your own voice, and in the first person. That’s the first step to creating a relationship with the people who view your online profile. They are connecting with you. So… Just be you! 

(To all of the folks I have offended that are connected with me and have a LinkedIn profile written in the third person, that is way too formal, or doesn’t have a tinge of your real personality: Sorry, but I mean it: Please– just be you! When you have a chance, look at your own profile and make it look and sound like YOU. I’ll keep an eye on my LinkedIn status update stream to see when you change your profile. Because when I look at your profile (and I do look at it), I want to smile because it will remind me of the real you.

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