Are You Who Your Network Says You Are?
As 2016 comes to a close, you're probably reflecting on where you've been and where you'd like to be, professionally speaking. For many of us, a big part of that process is reviewing — and updating — our LinkedIn profiles.
There is a myriad of articles about optimizing and enhancing your profile, from making your headline non-generic to adding keywords to crafting a killer summary. This is not one of those articles. At least, not directly.
Instead, I'd like you to consider your skills section. Have you looked at it lately? Which skills have the most endorsements? The least? Find any surprises there?
Today I took a look at my skills and the accompanying endorsements. And for kicks, I copied and pasted them into a Word document, ranking them in descending order from 99+ to zero. (In my defense, the "zeroes" were for newly added skills.)
My top skill? Public Relations.
Have I ever worked in a PR firm? No.
Held a title like Vice President, Communications? Nope.
So why does my network believe so adamantly in my Public Relations aptitude?
Searching for answers, I asked this very question of a friend, who was not at all puzzled by it. In his words, it came down to this: "people trust you with their brands and reputations, and know that you won't f*ck things up."
He might be on to something.
Your endorsed skills are a quick way for someone to assess what sets you apart, and what others view as your strengths. Said another way, they make up your personal brand.
When I worked as a branding consultant at Landor, we liked to say, “A brand is a promise.” Though we were speaking about consumer and corporate brands, the same holds true for individuals: What does your personal brand promise? When someone endorses you, they're saying that they believe that you possess that skill — and will deliver on your brand promise.
If there is a disconnect between your published skill set and the endorsements for it, ask yourself if your personal brand aligns with those skills:
Is the answer yes? Then perhaps you need to demonstrate that skill or replace it with a new one that defines your offering better.
Is the answer no? It may be time to remove that outdated descriptor from your profile. (True confession: I just did this, and while it was scary to delete skills with a critical mass of endorsements, those things were no longer serving my brand or me.)
As for my top skill of Public Relations? In a way, I guess I shouldn't be surprised. The thing I most enjoy doing — helping transform my clients in transition — calls on the very things that form the basis of public relations: writing, strategic communications, and building meaningful relationships.
Listen, I'm no Cheryl Snapp Connor, but I have to trust my connections when they see — and endorse — my brand's value. And it's up to me to deliver on that promise.
So as you review your LinkedIn profile, don't ignore what your network is telling you. The success of your brand may depend on it.