Earlier today, I decided on a whim that it was time to rework my LinkedIn profile. I use it almost entirely as a networking tool, like a virtual business card to folks I might interact with digitally, coupled with contacts I know quite well.
I didn’t engage the site with much of a strategy at first. After all, I use Facebook entirely for keeping up with people I know in real life from camp to college to grade school. It’s also not a platform I use to look for jobs and so, I’ve gone hot and cold and around the bend on the different ways to use my Linked In profile.
As I thought about it, I decided that it made sense to tailor the profile to answer questions that people generally ask me, once they get to know me. For instance, between my military time and the traveling I’ve done since then, folks generally wonder how I arrived at the place I’m at now. For those who engage me via my blog and who aren’t aware of my personal narrative — and I don’t really go out of my way to really explain it anymore…because I find it to be too distracting and I can often hyperfocus on stuff that’s meaningful to me (I’m full of stories!) but don’t really matter much in a bigger conversation — it could serve as a way for people to “fill the gaps” that they’re wondering about.
When I was explaining my need to do this to a close non-web connected friend, he didn’t understand “Why they needed to know. After all, it’s none of their business.” And I said, of course it’s not. But the great thing about the web is that it gives you the opportunity to define yourself. There might be others who try to define you in other ways or make judgments based on what they do or don’t know about you.
But if you understand the strategies involved, you can create a snapshot to cover the large majority of folks who might decide to “Google” you on a whim. It still tickles me to this day when a family member such as an aunt or someone, will call me and mention that they were tooling around online and decided to search themselves and then my own name to see what they find.
If that’s not a message that you need to be in control of the conversation, nothing is.
With the array of sites out there, you need a clear strategy for your social media dalliances, if you’re going to maximize the benefit of exposing parts of yourself publicly. I’m always revisiting how much of myself I want to “put out there” when I’m writing on my blogs and on networking sites. Sometimes, I have a throwback to the times when I started online and when the awareness of personal branding and such alike wasn’t a consideration for most of us.
I used to have a huge problem separating “what’s important versus what’s not,” when it came to things like writing bios and such alike. Again, I have so many vivid stories to tell and they often can distract from the ‘message’ if I’m not careful. After spending more time actually consuming media, reading other sites and seeing how folks I respect do things, it became easier to start to come up with a gameplan for what the right balance is.
It’s somewhere between talking about what I think is important, being able to highlight your accomplishments, without detailing everything you’ve ever done in your entire life.