Your Social Profile Must Be Amazing!

February 11, 2013 Comments
Your Social Profile Must Be Amazing!

As part of our social selling initiatives in IBM Inside Sales, we help our sales reps learn to build a personal brand online, showcase their expertise and engage with clients and prospects through social networks and collaborative technologies, and learn about the market through “social listening.” My focus in my role is raising the skill level and social savvy of our Inside Sellers on external social networking sites such as Twitter and LinkedIn.

The ROI of Social Selling

Besides the anecdotal evidence from the social selling success stories we track, research that IBM Inside Sales conducted in partnership with Duke and Rutgers Universities revealed the tangible ROI that our organization is reaping from our sellers’ use of these social networking sites. By using LinkedIn, in particular, in combination with IBM Social Business tools, our reps were able to generate more leads and close more opportunities compared to reps who did not. You can learn more about this IBM study in Ed Brill’s (@edbrill) recent book “Opting In” (Chapter 9, section Measuring Return on Investment).

Why focus on the Profile?

When training someone on “social selling” it can be easy to get lost in the features and functions of various tools and social networking sites. I prefer to take a broader perspective and get our sellers to focus on their personal brand and digital footprint. Over the years, I’ve observed that marketing oneself does not come easy to people, especially those in Sales. This may be surprising as putting our best face forward is common sense.

Why settle for good enough, when you can have amazing! That’s what I tell the Insider Sellers and all others that I train on LinkedIn during what I affectionately call “Operation Profile Makeover.”

But if it were that easy, there would not be countless blogs, articles, eBooks, webinars, and consultancies out there now trying to help people optimize their LinkedIn profiles and build a personal brand. That is why it’s doubly important to go through the profile/bio with your employees in detail, step by step.

Another important and timely reason to rethink your profile is that LinkedIn has migrated to a new profile design. The new design offers an opportunity to think through how our information is displayed in the new format, and to take advantage of the new rich media capabilities to showcase your thought leadership.

Lessons Learned from Profile Makeovers

Because there are so many other resources out on the web for you to reference on the topic of LinkedIn profiles, I won’t go into the “how to’s” in this post. What I will share are some observations, common myths, and key takeaways that may help you see your own profile in a new light or give you some new ideas on how to help coach those in your company.

When was the last time you thought about your profile?

Most people don’t give their profiles much thought. They seem satisfied that they even have a profile on LinkedIn or a bio on Twitter, and are unaware of the benefits to optimizing or improving one’s profile.

Profiles can make or break whether someone wants to connect with you, and that’s critical if you’re in sales, business development or a job seeker. Give them a reason to be impressed, rather than underwhelmed.

Having a great profile doesn’t mean you’re looking for a new job!

Many people don’t invest time in improving their profiles because they say “people are going to think I’m looking for a job” or “I’ve been with this company for X number of years and I’m not going anywhere. How does this benefit me?”

Even if you’re very happy at your current job, you still can benefit from investing time in filling out your profile. Clients, business partners, prospects, colleagues, upper management, your direct reports, colleagues, and community members are checking out your profile. People go on Google search and on LinkedIn to check you out.

Whenever I meet someone new at IBM, I immediately check our intranet page and LinkedIn to see what their background is. It’s very enlightening to see how they present themselves externally. I also view our executives’ profiles on LinkedIn as a gauge to see if they participate actively in social networking.

What makes you standout?

As I mentioned above, people seem to struggle on writing an effective headline and summary of their career and work experience, one that differentiates them from others who have similar roles. Your summary is an opportunity to highlight your achievements, your passion for what you do, and tell your story. Give it careful thought, read it over a few times and edit for typos!

Won’t people think I’m bragging or being boastful?

I hear this one often because people around the world don’t view the profile in the same way. One of my colleagues in South Africa said to me recently, when I suggested that he include an award he won on his profile: “Isn’t that being boastful?” And I replied: “Isn’t this the place to showcase your best achievements?”

I do think there’s a difference between putting down awards you have won and saying “I’m an unparalleled expert in ABC.” We all have more to learn in our fields, even if we have deep expertise or more expertise than others. Be mindful of the way you phrase things on your profile, so that you portray yourself as someone with deep expertise and not someone with too much hubris.

Perceptions of “effective” profiles vary

This one is tough. Many of our reps think their profile is fine and don’t realize there’s an issue. Making them aware of the gaps and how improvements could help them be more effective in social selling can be challenging. As I mentioned above, we can say, “Go fix your profile” but marketing themselves doesn’t come naturally. So, we took a more prescriptive approach and created a “Profile Makeover Checklist,” and one by one, reviewed people’s profiles and offered specific suggestions on what to improve. We made this investment of time because we believe it’s that important.

I’m hoping by now that you’re officially pumped to make your profile AMAZING! And remember, if it’s not, ask for help!

Send me your comments and suggestions @jennifer_dubow and connect with me on LinkedIn.

  • Social_Ben

    What a great post, and your quite right. First impressions count! If a client happens to stumble across your skills and you can demonstrate value and helpfulness you are more likely to spark engagement. However second impressions count to. Imagine you have just finished the best call of your life, and the meeting is all set up. Now like you the client wants to know more about you, he will take to an online search (he will), just like you will or have for him.
    He finds you and what’s does he see? Perhaps its LinkedIn, you have a profile but you have not been around for a while, your window dressing is sparse even the paint is peeling. No credibility, no value, the trust you just built is gone and the meeting is cancelled via the PA, no reason given.

    Jen great post and everyone should be thinking what is the most important brand.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jennifer.dubow Jennifer Dubow

      Thank you for the great insight Ben. It’s true. You can have an initial great impression and then you do a little follow up research, and can get disappointed. Why leave these things up to chance, when you can take measures, like having a stellar social profile, and be prepared.

  • http://twitter.com/kokasexton Koka Sexton

    It’s awesome to see this kind of innovation happening at companies like IBM. I’m going to see how many people I can get to tweet/share this so more people can understand the importance of social profiles.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jennifer.dubow Jennifer Dubow

      Thanks Koka! Really appreciate your support and we love Social Selling U!

  • Christy Schutte

    Great post and thanks for sharing. Any chance we can see your Profile Makeover Checklist?

    • http://www.britopian.com Michael Brito

      Yes, Jennifer .. Can we see?

      • http://www.facebook.com/jennifer.dubow Jennifer Dubow

        The checklist is for internal use. However, I can share various articles with you that are pretty great. Christy – connect with me on LinkedIn and I’ll share some materials with you.

  • Peter Strid

    Jennifer. Good article. I am very interested in learning more about your role. Not sure if you’ve heard about PeopleLinx, but we help an organization do exactly what you’ve outlined at scale across every employee’s profile with a systematic SaaS solution. And we can score it. I’d welcome a conversation. Cheers – Peter

    • http://www.facebook.com/jennifer.dubow Jennifer Dubow

      HI Peter. Thanks for your comment. Scoring profiles is an interesting approach though we found that it requires someone to read it over and assess its effectiveness and how compelling and on brand it is.

  • http://twitter.com/Brent_Oh MuFillyou World

    . . Thank you. I enjoyed your post.
    . . Profile is everything for our identity.
    . .♡ MuFillyou 162

  • http://twitter.com/Brent_Oh MuFillyou World

    . . Thank you. I enjoyed your post.
    . . Profile is everything for our identity.
    . .♡ MuFillyou 162

    • http://www.facebook.com/jennifer.dubow Jennifer Dubow

      Thank you for your comment. I agree that profiles are the first impression that people forms now for our online personas.

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