Give Yourself Permission For Authentic Personal Branding in Your LinkedIn Profile

by Meg Guiseppi on December 19, 2008


I recently worked with a colleague of mine, John Suarez, who needed to brand and power up his LinkedIn profile.

He’s launching his groundbreaking Referral Ready™ program, combining online training with live coaching to help business leaders generate quality referrals. After test-piloting the program with him over the past few months, I can attest firsthand to how invaluable it will be for building business. 

With only a perfunctory profile in place, John’s LinkedIn presence fell flat. It wasn’t properly focused and was doing very little to precisely describe the Referral Ready™ promise of value, while showcasing and positioning the program (and him) in front of his target audience.

This new venture is something he’s deeply passionate about, and wants it to be the primary focus of his profile, so we needed to downplay his 20+-year career writing resumes.

We started re-building his profile by answering some pointed questions:

  • Who are your target clients?
  • What differentiates Referral Ready™ from other similar programs?
  • What makes you, John Suarez, stand out from others facilitating similar programs?
  • Why does your target client need Referral Ready™?

Bingo! Out spilled some beautifully conceived and crafted marketing content he had already written. He had done most of the work – he just didn’t know how to use it to best advantage.

Throughout the process of working on his profile together online, adding and tweaking, he kept saying, “You mean I can really do that?” and “This is okay to do?” Even though he is a marketing whiz, he just didn’t realize what he could do with his profile for maximum impact.

Take a look at what we did with John’s LinkedIn profile:

→ There was no one else in his area offering anything like his program, so he wanted to narrow his target audience by niching geographically. The tagline by his name, “The Voice of Networking-for-Referrals Education in the St. Louis area”, came together easily. This is a critical component because most people will see it first. Too many don’t take full advantage of this valuable real estate to capture attention immediately.

→ We carefully crafted the first paragraph of his “Summary” section to draw in readers, then concisely outlined why his target audience needs Referral Ready™, and followed with a compelling bulleted list of what the program covers.

→ Within his Business Network International professional experience, we listed some of the companies he worked with so that people searching them would find him.

→ We closed out the dates for his resume writing firm so that it would not show up at the top of the profile within “Current” employment.

→ Within the “Interests” section, instead of just listing his various hobbies, I suggested we build a story around a particular one, providing a very personal touchpoint. He chose to expand upon his hobby of virtual bicycling, “visiting” cities with major league baseball stadiums, from Milwaukee to Atlanta. Pretty neat, isn’t it? And it generates chemistry.

Once we were finished, he thanked me for giving him permission to put himself out there exactly as he wants people to see him and Referral Ready™.

In John’s own words:

“To me the amazing thing was that here you have a guy who has been trained to think in terms of “branding” people for the past 20 years, and who even understood the notion of branding as it applied to himself, but had no awareness as to how deep I could actually go. When you go to Linked In and you see the words “summary”, there are no directions that say “apply here everything you know about resumes and marketing people and branding”…it just says “summary”.

You know there is a premium on brevity, but no one tells you that the real premium in terms of that space on that page is capturing who you are. The disconnect was alarming, especially for a trained people marketer. It just confirms the value of what you do, Meg, of what we in career services actually try to do for our clients. Giving people back to themselves is an awesome and empowering gift.”

I hope my anatomy of a brand value-driven LinkedIn profile gives you permission to authentically brand and generate some chemistry in your own profile. Here’s what I did with my LinkedIn profile.

Related posts:

Q&A With Jason Alba: The Inside Skinny on Using LinkedIn to Accelerate Executive Job Search

Hiring Managers and Recruiters Are Looking For You On LinkedIn

Get the Best Out of LinkedIn for Your Personal Brand, Networking, and Executive Job Search


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