Bittersweet Advice for Government Employees Who Use LinkedIn

A casual acquaintance recently sent me an invitation to connect with him on LinkedIn. I declined his offer then sent him an email explaining my reason.

First, I explained LinkedIn is a business tool I rely on; I locate, connect with and stay in touch with business related professional connections. I only connect with individuals I truly believe I can help or work with — he unfortunately was neither. I don’t connect with family and friends – that’s not what LinkedIn was intended for.

Second, I actually read his LinkedIn page and it was embarrassing. He had eleven misspelled words, several grammatical errors and two totally incoherent sentences. I reminded him every potential client reading his profile would see those errors.

Now, those you of who know me or who have brought me in to speak at one of your meetings and events know I am business focused — I seldom mince words. I share time-tested concepts that are proven and I give excellent advice to career professionals. So I ended my email to him by sharing ‘Gabe’s Simple Linked In Rules’ for LinkedIn users.

1) Whatever you put on LinkedIn is a reflection of you — good or bad

2) Every time you add a post, make a comment or update your profile be sure to:

a) Read what you wrote — read it again and then re-read it a third time before posting.

b) Come back three days later and re-read it again to confirm everything is correct again.

3) He had no profile picture. Why? A picture is worth a thousand words; it lets people know who you are. If you don’t feel comfortable posting a personal picture then use a business related photograph, any type of picture that re-enforces your written message.

4) Finally his position description stated ‘Consultant’ … with no reference to what type. Is he a Banking? Financial? Career? Manufacturing? Business Development? Foreign Trade? Home Decorating, Advertising, Human Resource, Security, Pest Control, or Transportation consultant? I didn’t know.

Accurate position descriptions make it easy for potential clients and colleagues to find you. Think about this. A person creates a LinkedIn page and states ‘Dance Instructor.’ Well what type of dance instructor are they? Waltz, Tango, Foxtrot, Rumba, Cha-Cha, Flamingo, Hip Hop, Jazz, Two Step, Ballet or ‘all Dances’? Clients only see your value when they know what you do. Unfortunately there is very little demand for ‘Jacks of All Trades’ in today’s world. Business people need experts – specialists – who can solve their problems — quickly.

It’s no secret I am a retired US Air Force Officer who went on to a second career in county government as a County Administrator. However, I also lived abroad for 12 years — in both Europe and the Pacific Rim. I don’t want to confuse my potential clients; therefore I created two distinct LinkedIn pages: 1) Gabe Gabrielsen – the Local Government Man and 2) The 911 Rescue Squad – the conference and convention speaker.

Each page caters to different types of connections. My government services related LinkedIn page focuses on three primary areas: 1) Working with dysfunctional board members, 2) How to effectively launch economic development initiatives and 3) How to reduce or contain costs on public works construction projects — topics of prime concern for city council members, county board members, school board members and township officials.

For my speaking services page on LinkedIn, I teamed up with a long-time colleague and good friend Jim Morrison to create The 911 Rescue Squad. Jim and I are great resources for event and meeting planners because Jim is an expert on customer service and time management; whereas my forte is individual professional development. Jim is a fun, easy going guy who is very personable; I am a no-nonsense, reality-based, hard-charger. We work well together because we share one common goal: To make every meeting and event planner look like a hero by providing great conference and convention programs their attendees will love and benefit from.

The bottom line is don’t be like my acquaintance. Make sure your LinkedIn page reflects you and what you actually do. Edit and proof your page over and over again to make sure it is always current and correct.

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