We’re Caught In A Trap!

I love a bit of Elvis, don’t you? (My other half and I have even spent the odd occasion watching a top-notch impersonator strut his stuff.) So I’ve taken the lyrics to Suspicious Minds as the inspiration for this latest post, because there’s a trap a lot of people fall into, which I feel I should flag up.

Let me set the scene

I recently had a conversation with a lawyer and suggested she write her LinkedIn profile in the first person (as is the norm on the site), not the third person (which sounds a little weird – like President Trump referring to himself as “The Donald”).

I also suggested that, while she was at it, she should add in something about her personal brand to balance out what she currently had, which was (in my opinion) a somewhat dry list of her legal achievements. (Things like the title of the legislation she was well-versed in, the name of an industry publication she was featured in, the acronyms of the regulatory organisations she’d advised.)

My advice, whilst acknowledged as coming from an expert, was met with a squeamish, “I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing that.” She explained that she’d always felt people writing ‘I this’ and ‘I that’ sounded arrogant – and she definitely didn’t want to be seen that way. But more than that, what really mattered to her was that other lawyers recognised her credibility – hence the emphasis on her credentials.

There was the trap

Most people’s instinct is to approach portraying themselves from the point of view of what matters to them, not what matters to the people who matter ie the A-Listers they want buying their personal brand.

This lawyer had written her profile to feel confident in how she would be viewed by her peers (important to her), not by her clients. But did it really matter what her peers thought, if her clients (and potential clients) didn’t buy into her?

To illustrate my point, I asked the lawyer what she talked about when she was meeting a client for the first time. Did she rush to mention the title of that legislation? Did she quickly talk about that industry publication? Did she speak about who she’d worked with using only acronyms?

Of course not.

She told me she spoke instead about their problem, what she could do to help them and how she’d go about it.

You know why? Because she was face-to-face with the person who mattered ie the client, not trying to impress another lawyer.

So why should a profile be any different?

If people can’t buy-into you online (because you’ve focused on what matters to you, not them) there’s little chance you’ll get to the face-to-face stage, where they might finally see your human side.

So don’t get ‘caught in the trap’ and assume you ‘can’t walk out’ (see what I did there?) Instead, try thinking about what you’d say to someone you want buying your brand if you were having a natter in person, then present that online.

Will you admit to falling into the trap yourself? Have you defined yourself by what’s important to you, not your audience? Or have you already cracked it and brought some of your personal brand to the party? It’d be good to know your thoughts with a comment below!

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2 responses to “We’re Caught In A Trap!”

  1. Tony O says:

    I totally agree with your comments, in terms of who or what you are buying into. For professional services, it is still important for someone to build credibility by showing that they have the right type and quality of experience. I expect someone to know their stuff, but it is how they go about it that will make the difference between me working with them and not. They would probably say the same about me, too.

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