Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Social networking with a professional face – 5 creating strategically effective social networking profile content, part 2

Posted in social networking and business by Timothy Platt on March 18, 2011

This is my fifth posting in a series on business social networking best practices and a second on the topic of online social networking profile content (see Social Networking and Business, postings 106, 108, 109 and 112 for installments one through four). I start this installment by specifically suggesting that you read Part 4 in the series with its focus on knowing your audience and targeting it with a focused message that would be effective in reaching out to them. This posting is a direct continuation of that discussion.

As I stated in Part 4, you want to prepare your profile content with your audience in mind.

• This means using the right mix of more specialized and professional terminology and standard language to be both precise and clear, and even for people who do not necessarily work in your specialty. You want to sound like an insider for the type of work you are seeking to do, but you have to be generally clear and understandable too, and to gatekeepers as well as specialists.
• This means including and effectively using the terms that people would use in searching a resume or online profile by, and in finding specific profiles to review.
• This means focusing on accomplishments and on the effectiveness of your work and not on simply listing what you have worked on, and for all of the key work skills areas you are marketing where you do have on the job experience.
• Quantify your accomplishments in this where possible.

The above points would apply to either an online social networking profile or a resume and I point out that I have included 14 postings on and directly related to resumes in my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development and you may want to review some of them, and definitely the resume writing series I have added to my Plan B job search series (postings 60 through 65.) I also want to add a few bullet points to the above list that would more specifically apply to the drafting of online social networking profiles per se.

• Watch out for slang and jargon. We all social network for more casual social purposes and in a strictly social context and it is important to separate that and our more colloquial ways of presenting ourselves from our professional social networking.
• Watch out for typos and spelling errors, and for grammatical mistakes. First, this type of mistake would look careless and would reflect poorly on your image as you present yourself. Second, mistakes of this type can cause ambiguity as to precise meaning and cause confusion.
• Even if you are looking to work in a business-casual environment, present yourself as a true professional in what you write and in how you write it, and write your profile with precision and with care for the details.

If you are just starting out in a career, or returning to one after a long pause and with a significant career change, you may have to focus on the skills worked on and learned details and not have a lot of performance accomplishments to include. But think through your resume and how you would present yourself as a person and a professional in your online profile and include enough to present yourself as a complete person. Essentially blank profiles are way too common and they do not do anyone any good, offering neither the writer nor reader any value.

If you have lots to say focus in on what is relevant to your current and anticipated networking needs and goals. Large amounts of extraneous and unrelated content on things you have done but do not with to continue doing will not help either you or your readers either.

Look for and find a happy middle ground between making your social networking profile too lean and sparse, and padding it with too many details.

As a final thought I would suggest that you reality-check what you write as a social networking profile.

• Look for profiles you find well written that people with similar professional career tracks and goals have posted and ask yourself what makes them effective. Learn from them and strive to achieve the same points of value in your online profile.
• Ask people you respect for their experience and professionalism to read through your draft profile and given their assessment. What types of work and career opportunities do they see your profile as targeting? Who do they see you effectively reaching out to? How effective do they see this draft in accomplishing that? What would they suggest you change in your draft profile and how? Pick their brains for the details and not just a simple “on a one to five scale” rating, so you can translate their opinion into insight that you can use – whether you follow their advice or not.

I was initially planning on covering more in this posting than I have gotten to as a single series installment. In that, I noted at the end of Part 4 that in this one I would looking into content offered in the body of the profile and also into issues such as “online recommendations, and selecting and using special features (e.g. LinkedIn Q&A feature, LinkedIn groups and use of web apps.) I did not cover all of that today but I will finish this list in my next installment in this series.

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