Daniel DiGriz: We’re here talking about what we should put into a professional profile such as on LinkedIn or anywhere really we list our credentials as independent consultants, even a resume. Steve, I think you have a case study of something going on right now.
Steve Pruneau: Well, I was on a project, my last project where one of the consultants it was her first time as an independent professional and she sent me her LinkedIn profile and her resume on the side because she knew I’ve been in this world for quite a long time and thinking about okay, how am I going to get the next engagement. I took a look and wanted to share with you the feedback that I gave to her.
First of all, a little bit of a background on her. She has over 18 years with one company but it’s all consulting experience. She was perfectly positioned for her current role and she was super at the app that she’s working on which is Kronos as an Employee Time App. It’s the most widely used enterprise employee time app in the US.
What I saw in her profile contrasted a lot compared to what I knew of her, which was all good. On her profile, it was mostly work history. I actually had to work to see the little nuggets that reflected what I knew of her. I called her up and spoke, shared this that okay, I’m seeing all history but I want to turn it around because I know what you can do and what you’re doing for this current client project. The rest of the conversation was all about flipping her profile and her resume to be oriented to the problems that she solves and her consulting experience, which conveys extensive consulting experience like she has conveys, “Hey, you’re getting somebody who’s going to walk into the office and know how to solve your problems.” The rest of that conversation was about that.
Daniel DiGriz: It’s interesting you know so often it feels like we’re conditioned to do this, right? I mean we create a profile and almost there are these forms. If you log into LinkedIn it’s list your previous job, list the date and we go into this passive mode, almost like we’re filling out a job application. I always tease people you know it’s like you’re applying for your own job.
But, as an independent consultant you already have the job. You just need the client. I think what I’m hearing you say is move from that passivity of simply listing your history and a list of your skills to an active approach of connecting the dots and telling us the story a little bit about why you and what problem and what solution you connect together.
Steve Pruneau: That’s exactly it. That’s exactly why I wanted to talk about this is I think it’s unintentional that so many people basically fill out their history and then it shifts the burden to the reader to figure out well can this person solve the problem that I need to solve? So many times you hear even in regular employment, people move on. They don’t pause to read through and figure it out if it’s not clear in the first sentence, the first paragraph, first few seconds then they just move on.
In the case of consulting and contracting, even more so. Really got to be straight to the point of this is what I do, this is what I solve, this is why you want to engage me and all this bit about history and what you’ve done in the past becomes almost irrelevant except for the occasional follow up, okay tell me a little bit of what you’ve done but that’s conversational, that’s not so much on your profile. So absolutely, that’s what I conveyed with her is let’s amp up everything I know about you, all the good things that you can do for people and I want to minimize eliminate a lot of your history.
Daniel DiGriz: Well it’s interesting you look at the average LinkedIn profile and all of the length, the longest portion of it is the work history and descriptions of what you did at certain jobs. I find that the title and the initial blurb and the introductory paragraph are about as short as can be. I think we’re saying it should be the other way around.
When I look at how to write a LinkedIn profile, I think of it as the same way that you would write a case study. A case study starts with a visionary goal. What did this client want to achieve? You can conjure up a visionary goal of what your potential clients want to achieve. This is the basic story arc in any story. Professional storyteller and corporate storytelling starts with the way we want things to be. Then you go right to a pain point but this is what most people struggle with and why you need me. This is the set up of the problem. You go from visionary goal to the pain point and then there are hurdles, why can’t you just solve it in the most knee jerk just do it yourself or just hire a freelancer, just do something simple.
If you get through that you’re halfway through the story and then you get to the why you chose us, which is or why you choose us if it’s a LinkedIn profile instead of a case study. That has to do with things like you pointed out with her. Eighteen solid years of consulting experience, I know how to step in and solve your problem. Eighteen years of experience on this rather obscure app. That leads you into the information and the work history as part of that why but not the sine que non, have you done this history. You’re now connecting the dots. You’re creating a presentation of where this information fits in the narrative because you’ve started the narrative and it brings you full circle back to that visionary goal just like when you’re completing a story and you come to rest.
Steve Pruneau: Yes, yes and there are so many people out there that I see who have value to deliver. The world needs what they have but it’s not coming across and so it’s not even a mistake really, it’s just a shift in the way we think about it. I don’t know what the actual reasons but I have a hunch about my own reasons, when I presented myself this way. Partly cultural, partly 20th century corporate paternalism of letting somebody else figure it out. They’ll take care of us if we’re an employee but yeah for me it was a big shift in thinking. Let me solve it for them. Let me be very clear so that it’s easy for the reader to figure out where I’m going with it and everything else is just secondary. Everything else being your work history.
Daniel DiGriz: That’s why I’m so interested in corporate storytelling in my own practice area because it really is a way of just presenting ourselves as problem solvers. I really like the idea that any of us can do that. I think Steve what you’re attempting to do here is just carve out in the series of podcast episodes, what are the initial core skillsets for an independent consultant to have.
We started first with how do you get out of your job and find work for yourself. Then we went into the first hurdle, the first trap or mud pit that happens in The Princess Bride. Why are we trained to be dependent on other people suddenly you find out you need clients. Then in the last episode we did well is selling really a specialized skill or can we all sell? Can every consultant connect these dots? Now, we’re on the final bit, which is for … Not that we’re going to stop the podcast by any means but this completes a sequence of all right so I know how to connect the dots, now how do I present that? How do I tell that story arc to the public in terms of the branding that I put out there? This is the marketing feather on that sales cap.
We should point out before we close the episode soon that doing this way, if you just write your job history you’re not very searchable in LinkedIn but writing out the narrative in a way that’s compelling and covers these points of the visionary goal and the pain points and the hurdles and the why somebody chooses you, then it gives them the information. It gives you a greater number of search terms that tend to come up in those searches that are highly relevant to how you want to position yourself in what you do. Right away, my experience has been, I don’t know about you Steve but when I redid my LinkedIn profile I started getting a lot more views per day and I was lucky to get that many views in a week when it was just a resume.
Steve Pruneau: Yes, it was a big shift for me and one of the internal, just to close it out, the one of the things that I put aside about myself is this. My LinkedIn profile, my professional profile, how I present myself to the world is not my whole self. It’s certainly not comprehensive about me. I don’t need it to be comprehensive in order to have a professional livelihood that allows me to thrive. I only need to convey what is helpful to other people and I think at least for me, that was a distinction that really freed me up, allowed me to be truly searchable on professional terms that other people find useful.
Daniel DiGriz: Well same here. I had a bit of an OCD obsession with being complete in my profile and it was actually you, Steve, that made the point to me that really this is your brochure. In your brochure, you don’t necessarily have to put the square footage of the closet. You can leave that information out and let the information that is the high point, how you solve the problem and what the immediate result and that visionary result is for the client, how that rises to the top.
By having the right information featured, it just lets you cut out all of the trivial information that by including it reduces all the information in your profile to the status of equal.
This has been a really good episode Steve and we’ll close it out early. This’ll be a short one but I think we’ve touched on the key points.
Steve Pruneau: Thank you, Daniel.
May contain transcriber errors.