Sabotaging Your LinkedIn Profile? 3 Ways to Stop

“I don’t like the LinkedIn profile you wrote for me.”

These words arrived in my inbox at 3 am, written by my client, Jerry. I was baffled, because I loved how his profile “makeover” turned out: Energetic, confident, with two neck-snapping success stories.

Jerry, a former VP of Operations turned entrepreneur from Texas, has the Midas touch. He’s helped several small and large businesses grow by millions annually. Today, he helps doctors manage the business side of their practices for greater profitability and efficiency. He’s developed a turnkey solution that works, with the results to prove it.

I knew I could fix whatever he didn’t like about his Summary. I tell my clients, “We’re not done with your profile until you’re thrilled with the result.”

While talking to Jerry the next morning, I quickly learned it wasn’t the profile that needed fixing. It was Jerry’s beliefs about LinkedIn.

He offered his first concern.

“The Summary you wrote? It’s very conversational.”

“And if it’s conversational, what does that mean to you?” I asked.

Concept of problem in business

“I sound too relaxed. No one will take me seriously.”

I have heard this very argument before from clients, especially Finance or C-suite professionals.

“Actually Jerry, that’s a good thing, at this stage of the “buying” game. When people view your LinkedIn profile, they want to feel you’re relatable. At its heart, LinkedIn is a relationship building tool. Your Summary shouldn’t sound like your resume.”

I shared my favorite Zig Ziglar quote: “If people like you they will listen to you. If they trust you, they will do business with you.” I explained that if a Summary is relational and “connect-y,” it builds a bridge between you and the reader, creating that all important “trust factor” necessary to do business.

He said, “Well, that brings me to my next concern.”

“The Summary sounds so . . . different from other profiles.”

He said, “I looked at Nathan’s [who referred Jerry to me] and mine sounds nothing like his.”

“Oh,” I said. “So you’re concerned it should sound more formal, and use more ‘corporate-speak’?”

“Yes! Like a lot of my friends’ profiles sound,” he said.

“Question, Jerry. If you sound like everyone else, what’s to distinguish you from your competitor? When we spoke the very first time, this was your primary concern.”

I explained that LinkedIn is a fantastic database that allows readers to quickly weed out irrelevant prospects.

It’s the ones who stand out who get the call.

I offered up Seth Godin’s purple cow metaphor. “The key to success is to be remarkable. To be a purple cow in a field of monochromatic Holsteins.” If you don’t stand out, you’ve just made room for your competition.

Jerry’s friend Nathan holds a high level position at a conservative company. His goals when using LinkedIn are different from Jerry’s.  Nathan had made it clear, “I want to convey x, y and z, but withhold certain information.” And so, I reigned in the “purple cow.” He was not aggressively seeking new clients or a new job, but wanted a more substantive, professional profile.

Jerry said, “Well, here’s my other gripe! I’m a humble guy. I teach my kids the importance of humility.”

“I’m worried the Summary you wrote makes me sound like a bragger.”

I hear this from 100% of my LinkedIn clients: “I just want my accomplishments to speak for themselves!”

“Oh, I so get that,” I told Jerry.  “I want you to hold onto your humility too. It’s essential.

But on LinkedIn, you must convey your value in an instant, or else your viewer moves on to the next candidate or company.

“Jerry, no bank will give a loan to someone who can’t demonstrate a track record of success, right? The same applies to your Summary. You turned a struggling, chaotic company from $4M to $20M in 5 years. That’s remarkable evidence. Purple cow stuff,” I said.

It’s a weird world we live in, isn’t it? We are taught not to brag. EVER. But in 2015, our attention spans are short, and we want vital information quickly.

It’s all about context. On LinkedIn, we must “brag.”

By the end of the conversation, Jerry’s point of view had shifted. “Okay. I trust you. Make me a purple cow.”

Here are the cardinal rules for your irresistible LinkedIn Profile:

Be relatable. Be remarkable. Offer evidence.

How else will the world know you can make a difference? Please tell us out loud, because your accomplishments will never speak for themselves.

That’s your job.

Image: Depositphotos@alphaspirit

Jerry Godwin cheerfully agreed to let me tell this story here, for which I’m grateful. For more information about his remarkable company, check out his website, Optmedsol.  To connect with Jerry, visit his LinkedIn profile

Julie Bondy Roberts, MA, GCDF is a LinkedIn™ Profile Writer and LinkedIn trainer. She is the founder of Coming Alive Career Coaching, and loves teaching people how to get found on LinkedIn.  A participant in one of her workshops recently wrote: “Julie’s LinkedIn class took me from a skeptical LinkedIn novice to a believer in the power of LinkedIn!”

To learn more about LinkedIn™ Profile Makeover packages & training your group or organization on growing your business through LinkedIn, contact Julie at You can also follow Julie on Twitterand Facebook.

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