LinkedIn: let’s liven things up

The Writer’s in New York and we’re looking for writers and trainers. The search has taken me to LinkedIn. And I’m a little underwhelmed.

Where’s the personality people?

I have a theory – LinkedIn is for business and your profile is a CV. So even when writers know they need to sell themselves and their skills, most don’t. LinkedIn has put them in ‘business mode’, so the writing is formal, long and – to be frank – dull.

But, I found an exception. His name is Peter Carbonara (Best. Name. Ever). He says things like:

My gifts are that I am broadly curious and words come easily to me. My key failing is that I sometimes let my shtick (Mr. Cynical) get in the way of my talent. A psychic jury consultant (!) once shook his head and told me, ‘I can see you are intelligent, but your heart –’ He made a fist. His page got my attention. In fact, it drove me to write a blog. Well done Mr Carbonara.

So, what’s he doing that you can do?  

Five things you could learn from Peter

1. Use more verbs and fewer nouns.

Don’t say your experience involves the production of online features. Say I wrote for the web instead.  

2. Don’t write dull lists.

One guy’s experience at a previous job consisted of:

White papers, brochures and other marketing materials.

What were they about? Who were they for? What was interesting about them? What did you learn? Did they keep you up at night? Why?

Peter put: As a print reporter I’ve written about murder, rabies, and a variety of big money corporate disputes, UFO abduction, the Boston police, education, private equity, banks, oil futures, debt collectors, mutual funds, stock scams, hospitals and Richard Thompson.

3. Find interesting alternatives.

I’ve seen these words a lot:

Managed. Produced. Developed. Delivered. Created. Executed. Supported.

They’re not very exciting. Find a different way of saying those things. Like:

Stood up to the client and won.

4. Show off your skills, don’t tell me about them.

Writing that you have a keen eye for detail and strong story development skills does not make it so. Prove it or tell me more.

Peter wrote:

I’m good at generating narrative ideas and helping other people organise theirs. I enjoy saying, ‘That would make a really good story’. I like detective work.

5. Be honest. Brutally, revealingly honest.

Hearing how much of a hot shot you think you are is not interesting. Show some weakness, show how you overcame adversity, show me anything to show you’re human.

Peter says: I followed the usual journalism path and was promoted beyond my level of competence. Was subsequently fired by incoming managing editor for ‘stirring up discontent in the newsroom’ and my general inability to take him as seriously as he took himself. I fought the law and the law won.

Now, get yourselves on LinkedIn, do a Carbonara and lick that profile into shape.

(And if you want to learn a few more tricks to better writing, we’re doing a webinar on 30th May. You can sign up or get in touch with sarah.raeburn@thewriter.com for more info.)  

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