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Do you put yourself out there, ask people to link up with you via LinkedIn, and then all you hear is… crickets? There could be one very blatant reason why no one is interested in your LinkedIn profile (yet), and the good news is that it’s relatively easy to fix.
Journey with me to a recently networking event I attended.
There were a variety of entrepreneurs at the event. As I was surveying the crowd… I noticed that some were better presented than others…
My natural reaction to those who looked like they had stumbled out of their washing machine was, “What are you thinking?”
The first thought that goes through my mind is that they clearly don’t take themselves seriously enough. If they can’t even put an outfit together, how will they put a business together? Others had taken the time to look presentable, and instantly I thought: “That looks like someone I wouldn’t mind chatting to… they seem to have it together.”
Stereotypes are sad… But true.
And my washing machine guy could be running multiple successful businesses, and the well dressed dude could have been a loser. But because their physical appearance was all I had to go on, my perception of them was based on what I saw.
Stereotypes aren’t only linked to people’s looks.
When I visit a website, and the layout screams “cheap”, the first thing I do is click on the back button. When I’m trying to decide between two brands of coffee, you’ll be right in guessing that the packaging has a large role to play in my decision. When choosing a DVD, the jacket really does affect my choice. When I see a book that has a crappy design, it would take a lot for me to pick it up (unless a friend insisted I read it).
Granted, I am a very visually orientated person, but more and more, I find that it is in our natural inclination to judge the book by its cover.
A LinkedIn profile is the same — it is the cover to your book.
When you want to link up with someone, the only information they have to go on is your image (and your bio). Most people don’t pay too much attention to their bio (usually because they are in a hurry to get their profiles up and running), and unless the prospective LinkedIn connection knows you, they are relying on your image to make the call as to whether they will link up with you.
In an age where people are avoiding all forms of potential spam, profile hijackers, and serial killers, if your profile looks even slightly suspicious, they won’t give you a chance.
It’s not even your first handshake, it’s what they see when they scout the room.
So here are six tips to get more people interested in your LinkedIn profile:
1. Have an image of yourself
With too many spammers out there, the grey LinkedIn profile tells me that you don’t really take yourself seriously enough to bother loading an image of yourself. If you don’t take yourself seriously, how can I?
2. Make sure it’s a clear image of your face
Unless you’re a model or fitness instructor — chances are that we don’t really need to see your whole physique. I should, however, be able to recognise you in a crowded restaurant.
3. Do you look professional?
Whilst a professional photographer is advisable, it’s not necessary… but please avoid images of your family, wedding or poolside antics (unless you’re a pro swimmer / diver) – no matter how good you think you look (or how much you love your kids) – save those photographs for Facebook.
4. Facial expressions
I have seen photos where someone either looks as though they are giving the camera the evil eye (and potentially middle finger), or they are pulling a face that screams: “Get me off the toilet”.
Don’t be one of those people… smile.
5. What are you wearing?
Keep your wardrobe “work appropriate”. A suggestion that helps in this area is: dress a level above your current pay grade. Put another way: dress at the level you’d like to be interacted with.
6. Allow your personality to shine through
While you need to gear this image as being more “professional” — you can still allow your personality to shine through.
A side note about stereotypes:
I love stories of how people break stereotypes — Like Paul Potts who was able to rock the crowds with his voice, or the urban legend of a barefoot guy – dressed in crumpled shorts and a ripped t-shirt – who then climbs into his Porsche.
But when it comes to business, and specifically, your Linkedin Profile, the question I find myself asking is: “Why would I want to make business THAT much harder for myself?”
So your simple task is to take a look at your profile on Linkedin. But I’m going to suggest that you pretend that you are looking at the profile of someone who wants to do business with you. What would you think of you?