No one trusts a phony or a flake. No one feels comfortable around a pushy salesperson. No one gets enthused at working with a shy wallflower.
That’s why you have to be authentic and personable on your LinkedIn profile.
That’s why I could not disagree more with this op-ed piece by Adam Grant, a Wharton professor, in the New York Times, “Unless You’re Oprah, ‘Be Yourself’ Is Terrible Advice.” Yes, the author is an academic at a fine institution. Yes, he is experienced and articulate. And he is overstating the obvious.
His point: “Nobody wants to see your true self. We all have thoughts and feelings that we believe are fundamental to our lives, but that are better left unspoken.”
Have we lost our personal definition of authenticity? His LinkedIn profile is pretty good. I even think it’s authentic. I am not sure his article’s POV applies to social media branding in a professional online forum. Here’s why.
Overdoing anything in today’s world tunes people out immediately.
At the worst case, my colleague used to update us on LinkedIn for every daily meal he ate, and where, even if it did not involved network (thank goodness he stopped!) The boy who cried wolf. His authenticity suffered for lack of any meaningful message. Not authentic. Noise. I tuned him out.
Another lesser offender still updates her profile daily with random quotes from great minds, a simplistic way to look deep. I wish she would stop the copy-paste. It’s just filling up space. I would prefer she tell us all message she sees in that quote to know what is important to her, authentically.
My clients strive to tell their story. Many struggle to cobble the words and images together. Once we clear the logjam, it flows. What a feeling! Those are the authentic self-branding thoughts that need to be posted on LinkedIn to demonstrate “why you do what you do.” Those are the stumbling blocks you need to leap over, not hide, as the professor suggests.
Oddly, after berating authenticity throughout the article, the author ends with “No one wants to hear everything that’s in your head. They just want you to live up to what comes out of your mouth.”
Not “who” you were or are or want to be; not “what” you ever did: that’s pedestrian thought. Yes, professor, I agree that’s too much.
Rather, reader, give reflect on the “why” that gets to the core and impresses us with the real true authentic message that you need to convey in a noisy world. Be reasonably and professional authentic. Don’t dull our senses with too little, too bland, or too much.
Be sure your profile reflects who you really are: no disconnect between what they read about you and what they hear you say, in person or on the phone.
Write as much into your profile that makes brand clear and enticing. Then they ask for more. You want that opportunity.
Sorry, professor, I have to disagree.