A friend of mine came round for coffee and a chat last week. He's feeling a bit dejected …
For the last two months or so, he's been looking for someone. Not just anyone. Someone important. Someone he can refer to. Someone he trusts. I'm talking internet dating here and for those of us who've found ourselves single in the last decade or so (me included), it has become one of the only reasonably safe ways to try to find another partner. Gone are the days of cruising local bars in the hope of bumping into "the one". No, much better to get to know them basically first.
So you take a look at their profile and see what they have to say about themselves and you make a decision as to whether or not you think you're on the same wavelength. Then you sometimes give them a call, chat on the phone, sound them out. Try to find out a bit more about who they are and whether or not you think you might get on. Finally, if they pass all the initial tests, you arrange to meet for a coffee or a quick drink, hiring that, when you see them you'll know whether or not they're someone you want to spend time with. And hopefully, for a lucky few, the answer is yes and it's the start of a beautiful relationship.
Now I can see you thinking, hold on, this is a business article, so what's the stupid woman going on about online dating for? Well, is there really that much difference between Match.com and LinkedIn?
No, I'm not being flippant here. What online dating has done for our love lives, has not LinkedIn achieved for our business selves? We go online, we check out the profile, we see if they're someone we think we have things in common with …
In business, as in life, are not we all just looking for that perfect partner?
Which brings me back to Mark. He's a lovely guy – loyal, trustworthy, dependable, with a wicked sense of humor and a twinkle in his eye. But do I get any of that from reading his profile? No, not at all. His words are bland and not very engaging and tell me nothing about the person he really is. As a result, he's not attracting much interest, which is a shame, as he's a catch. Really, he is!
With this in mind, take a long hard look at your LinkedIn profile and ask yourself "if I was looking to do business with me, what would I think?" Because people will judge you by what they read. They will jump to conclusions about you before they've even taken the time to meet you and if they do not like what they're seeing, then it's illegally they'll take the time to engage with you on any other level.
We all know how it works. How often have you called someone who's been referred to you, only to hear their fingers flying across the keyboard as soon as they answer the phone, because they're looking you up on LinkedIn as you talk? I know it's low and I know it's no substitute for getting to know someone in person, but we live in a virtual world and, as an increasing amount of networking is being done online, your profile could be the only chance you get to make that great first impression.
And so, whether we're talking about dating or business, it shows how important it is to get your online profile right. Because that's what's going to attract people to you and help them decide whether they like you. And as they always say, people do business with people they like.
Your LinkedIn profile is your calling card. Get it right and you'll attract a lot of interest. Get it wrong and you'll find yourself in the wilderness.
And no one wants that.