Use LinkedIn? What’s Your Story

networkSince I started working with people to develop or overhaul their LinkedIn® Profiles, not only has this great social networking tool for business kept growing but people are getting more and more creative with their profiles.

How do you tell your story? Does it do you justice?

If you want to get started and don’t know where to focus your attention, collect the basic information you need to outline your professional history. Resume up-to-date? Great. If not, then get your facts together first. It’s so much easier to fact check in a digital world, and you don’t want to be caught making a mistake—at best you look sloppy, at worst you look dishonest. Neither will help you legitimize yourself in the eyes of potential employers or connections.

A profile shouldn’t just be tailored to a particular job, it should tell your story.

Here’s an exercise to get you moving. Make notes about anything that feels important or powerful along the way.

Find some blank index cards or make your own. Write a version of the following big questions on one side of the card:

  • What have you been doing with your life?
  • Who do you hope to become?
  • What matters to you?
  • Where is your passion?
  • What are your goals?

The next group of cards is more concrete, so list :

  • Your major areas of knowledge/expertise (one per card, don’t worry about whether or not they are marketable right now. Yes, even cooking counts if that’s your thing.)
  • School/Training (one card per diploma/certificate/program completion—write your subject area and institution on one side)
  • Work (one card per job—write your title and employer on one side)
  • Specific life experiences that support your professional goals (one experience per card)

Now, take a look at the concrete cards. Arrange and rearrange them to tell different stories about your past. Has work been your life focus? Family? Community? School? How many different stories can you tell about your life as you put different cards at the center of your story or rearrange the telling of your experiences?

Next, consider how those different stories sound, and how they fit with your experience. Look at the big picture questions as you consider your story from different perspectives.

Telling your professional story differently can be an important step on the journey to create a story worth living into.

Stay tuned for more on working with your professional/business story later in the month.