LinkedIn seems like a great idea until you are confronted with completing your profile. It can feel a bit like filling in a job application, or applying to be part of a club that looks like it’s doing fine without you. The personal statement, in particular, seems to fill perfectly articulate business people with fears and misgivings about their ability to string together a sentence.

It’s like that moment in the networking meeting, when you actually have to ‘network’. For many people it’s terrifying, and there’s a desperate need for a strategy to overcome the fear of being judged and found wanting.

Getting Over the Fear Factor

Just take a look at the posts that get the most attention on LinkedIn and you’ll see what everyone loves is a great story. Whether it’s the guy who’s leaving the corporate environment to start his own business, or the woman who goes to carry out a site inspection and comes home with a stray dog she fallen in love with; the key to engagement is real people’s lives.

Fear is what stops us telling our story on LinkedIn. We want to be clever, impressive, the best, the most interesting – but, in fact, that’s all armour to stop us being who we really are.

If you want to tell your story, start by taking a look at these 5 questions:

  1. When did you know you wanted to do what you do now?
  2. What, or who, inspired you to want to do what you do now?
  3. How did you get started?
  4. How did you find a way of progressing to where you wanted to be?
  5. Where are you now?
  6. Where would you like to get to?

Structuring Your Profile Story

Start out by writing a few notes in response to each of these questions. Take your time and don’t airbrush the oddities. The stories we remember are those that buck the trend, and work against the odds. Maybe you were useless at school but had a passion that you pursued at the weekends. Maybe your first business failed, but gave you the idea you needed to succeed. Whatever makes your story unique to you is what your readers will be interested in.

Writing Your Story

The written word does odd things to what we want to say. All too often we try to tell one story, and end up losing the flavour as we battle with the words to say what we want. So, before you start to write your story, say it out loud as though you were telling your partner, or friend. Find the shape of it. Find out how you want to tell it. Then, once you feel comfortable, write it down.

Just a word of caution – this will feel odd. You’ll feel vulnerable. It takes courage to write from who you really are – but the rewards are greater.

Your Profile Headline

LinkedIn profiles use the ‘headline’ to attract attention. The task is to find a snappy way to introduce yourself in just 120 characters. Part of that will be taken up with your job title, but let the rest be inspired by your story. What drives you? What’s your passion? What are you striving for? Alright, so it may not appeal to everyone, but you’ll also find the people who do want to do business with someone just like you.