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  • Diana Schneidman

LinkedIn’s very best feature for freelancers and consultants

I remember exactly where I was when I was first introduced to the concept of personal branding. I was going through the day’s mail and examining the August 31, 1997, issue of Fast Company when I came across an article on “The Brand Called You” by Tom Peters. The accompanying graphic equated the “you” brand with Tide detergent.

I was fascinated and inspired by the concept. Personal branding was new to me and it seemed so much more innovative than the same old resume.

Today my enthusiasm for personal branding is less wholehearted. I don’t want to be a box of Tide. I want to be a person, and it’s puzzling to determine how to get myself appropriately known without reducing myself to being a product.

All this leads me to recognizing the very best feature of LinkedIn for freelancers and consultants. It’s the sections called “Experience” and “Education.” In other words, it’s the sections most resembling the classic resume.

The reason that it’s so good is that most of LinkedIn—like most everything else on the internet—is about branding and positioning ourselves. However, the LinkedIn profile is just the facts.

Almost everyone I talk to who uses LinkedIn mentions Experience and Education. Even those who seldom use LinkedIn—or perhaps I should say especially those who seldom use LinkedIn—enjoy these features.

Social media, our websites, articles databases, and most other self-publicity tools give us free rein to present ourselves however we wish.

However, in an era rich in self-branding, LinkedIn profiles are unique. They help us understand each other in terms of what we’ve actually done in our careers. They strip out the fluff.

LinkedIn itself keeps changing, often for the worse. LinkedIn tries to increase participation by making it easier to take part, such as by introducing Endorsements as an effortless alternative to the harder task of writing Recommendations. This watering down of LinkedIn is bad news.

As an antidote, let’s keep up with the aspects that are the most useful.

So any time you don’t have anything waiting to be done (!), why not review your LinkedIn profile and try improving it? Lately I’ve seen freelancers and consultants who list specific clients among their Experiences, often with overlapping dates. I have not undertaken this to date, in part because I don’t want to encourage other freelancers to go after my recent clients. Still, it’s worthy of consideration.

One benefit of spiffing up the profile is for it to support our solopro marketing efforts more effectively. I write this to encourage you to look it over—but never postpone reaching out to prospects to work on your LinkedIn profile or other aspects of your internet presence instead.

Originally posted 10-7-13

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