I cannot even begin to stress enough on the fact that as a business networker, or even as a person with a simple web presence, you need to have a good profile description available for others to read through. Your profile serves the purpose of a first impression when someone visits you on the web. Since you are not there in person to greet the visitor or to talk about your achievements and experience, it is your profile that speaks.
Before ever posting your profile on the web, sit with a pen and paper and write the profile down.
All online business networking portals have fixed guidelines about how the profile is structured, so you will know what to write first and what information goes where. Copy that structure down and then fill it up on paper. This will ensure that you do not make any mistakes. By the time you get to typing what you have written on paper, you will necessarily have read the material atleast thrice. And that’s the basic priciple of writing that was taught to us in school – “Read your letter atleast three times before sealing the envelope”. Not only will you eliminate grammar and spelling errors, you will also whittle down unnecessary and redundant content. Once typed, read the material aloud to yourself. In almost all cases, you will edit the material again to make changes for the better once you have heard yourself “speak” it.
(I’m sure if I was in the room when you read the above paragraph, I would have heard a “Yeah sure!” when I mention writing the profile on paper first. There is an alternative for the above. If you have to “not write” but type, go ahead, type the profile. Once you have done typing, take a printout. Now go through the same motions as above. Of course when you make any changes / correctons, you will not have to re-type the entire material.)
The person reading your profile will be doing so only because of two evident reasons:
1. You asked them to visit OR
2. They found you
In any case, the profile has to be flawless because that first chance is all you’ve got. If your profile interests the person reading it, then they will e-mail you asking for further details – that is the point where you will take on the onus of selling yourself – till then it’s just the profile.
KEY #1 Never ramble when you write your profile You will get ample chance of going into the details once you make further contact with the interested person.
KEY #2 Do not, under any circumstances be flippant Whatever experience you have is important, you might not think it is any big deal that you worked for a year as the paperboy, but it is important. Instead of conveying with your words that you do not believe you learnt anything from that experience, it is better if you do not mention it at all. If you do however choose to mention it, be precise about what you did, why you did it and what was the outcome – for you as well as for your employer.
KEY #3 Be as brief as possible – remember, you are giving an introduction, not writing your autobiography. For example, you might have a blog on photography (since photography is your hobby) – you must not describe your photography field trips on your profile – what you can do is mention that you have a photography blog and give the URL. Just the fact that you have a photography blog means that you have some interest in the same – give some credit to the intelligence of people reading your profile.
KEY #4 Do not repeat anything on your profile unless it is absolutely important. I personally like to repeat my e-mail address (it usually appears twice) because I love hearing from and replying to people from all over the world – I like sharing their world – so I encourage people to write by making my e-mail address visible.
The keyword to remember while writing your profile is “professional“. Professional would be associated with words like “concise”, “sharp”, “thought-catching” etc. The trick is to be brief but detailed – write less words but choose words that mean more. Like the above example, instead of writing a paragraph on how passionate you are about photography as your hobby, just say that you have a photography blog! Of course you have to have a photography blog to do that. Which leads me to the conclusion that if you want to be successful at online business networking, you have to have some sort of web presence. For the sake of argument, there are people who are successful online business networkers who have no other web presence except their professional profiles on the networking portals that they use. So they already have a web presence. Touche.