Harnessing the art of storytelling: How narrative techniques can enhance your LinkedIn profile
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When creating and editing your profile, turning that blank space into an accurate and exciting depiction of your professional life can be challenging. Thinking about yourself and your qualities can be tricky, especially if you feel bragging will make you seem arrogant.
However, if you think about yourself as a character in a narrative, making your profile can be as simple as signing your name. Here are a few narrative techniques that will help boost your LinkedIn profile! Read our key takeaways below:
The hero’s journey
One way to describe yourself in your profile is to frame it as a professional journey. Write about how you started working in your field, and detail how your career has developed. Describe your challenges and triumphs and how they relate to your personal growth. Explaining your professional life in this narrative way summarizes what your audience needs to know about you concisely while giving space for your unique story to reinforce the skills, interests, and values you exhibit in your professional life.
When creating your profile, you’ll need to get a little emotional. That doesn’t mean your goal is to make a tear-jerking narrative for your audience to feel sorry about. Instead, ponder this question for a bit: How do you want your audience to feel when reading your profile? Your answer to this question will help you with this step going forward.
Depending on the emotion you want to evoke, like empathy, inspiration, or admiration, make that a “theme” throughout your profile. For example, if you want your profile to inspire people, then your headline may be an inspirational quote and you would share stories of challenges and triumphs in your life that one could pull an inspirational message from.
In narratives, characters become so beloved because their personality shines throughout the story, allowing readers to connect and relate to them. Make the same with your LinkedIn profile. Take your professional identity and genuine personality and weave them throughout your profile. Share funny and relatable work stories or lesser-known hobbies and interests. Make sure your writing reflects your emotions.
If you’re excited about an achievement, make sure your writing reflects that in tone. If you make your profile sound emotionless, you create this distance that discourages further reading of your profile, as your audience will be looking for personality, achievements, and skills. Creating this window into your personality allows your audience to engage with a more authentic version of you than what they would be used to on LinkedIn.
When writing a story, the first sentence is everything. If your headline is just the default job position and company name, you still need to harness the power of a compelling opening fully. Your headline must (figuratively) grab your audience to the screen and keep their eyes glued to your profile. Convince your audience why they need to learn more about you. I won’t lie; this can get challenging, especially since you only have a small amount of space to convince them. However, it’s easier to think about emotions and personality (like what we discussed before).
If you want to inspire people, what’s the first thing that inspires you? Is it a quote you like or a saying you say when times get tough? Is there a funny but professional achievement or fact that you can share? All of these have the potential to be your headline. You don’t need to cram everything into your headline. That’s what your profile is for. Instead, focus on one short facet and make it memorable.
Show, don’t just tell
Don’t just list your achievements, skills, and values on your profile. It’s ok to brag a little! Share anecdotes and visuals that connect with what you’re showcasing. Instead of just telling what your skills are, include images of you utilizing those skills or awards that connect with them. When describing your values, share a story where they are apparent, either by exhibiting or learning about them.
In addition, these stories don’t always need to be successes. Showing your challenges and how they influenced your values shows a big step toward vulnerability and transparency. Sharing your solutions to these challenges demonstrates your problem-solving skills and adaptability and allows you to share your thought leadership in your field. Expanding on your professional characteristics will give you more credibility while giving your audience a more detailed look into your personal story.
Evaluate your values
When explaining your values and skills, remember the audience who will see them. Depending on the demographics you’re trying to attract, you’ll have to organize these traits by relevance. While that doesn’t mean completely leaving out skills that aren’t directly related to your field, you should pay more attention to the ones that do. Articulate your value to employers or collaborators by explaining your unique skills and experiences that benefit those you work with.
In addition, different stakeholders (e.g., potential employers, industry peers, clients) may be interested in other aspects of your story. There may be specific points of interest that you would highlight for industry peers that wouldn’t be important to potential employers.
Before you invest in reading a book, you look up reviews of it. Depending on what others say, you’ll decide if you want to invest your time into this book or put it back on the shelf. Recommendations and endorsements are like the book reviews of your profile. Recommendations allow a person to detail their professional experiences with you and how they benefited from them. Like book reviews, your audience will judge whether or not they want to interact with you based on these recommendations. In addition, endorsements allow people you know to cosign on your skills. These secondary opinions give credibility to your profile and what you’re promoting.
Highlight growth and learning
A narrative is nothing without character development. An important rule in storytelling is that your main character needs to change in some way by the end of your tale. Throughout the story, an author takes their readers through a journey of change, with the character learning something that changes how they’ll go through life in the future.
In your profile, you’re tasked with doing the same thing. Every time you learn something new, make a note of it to your audience. That way, they can see your continuous learning and improvement over your career. Plus, if you figure out something that no one has thought of before, sharing it will allow you to be seen as a thought leader in your field.
Every main character has a dream or goal for the future. Share your vision and plan for the future and update your audience as you get steps closer to achieving it. Share your vision for the future and how you plan to contribute to your industry or field. Sharing your vision shows how forward-thinking you are, and giving progress reports through posts demonstrates your commitment to your goals and holds you accountable to your audience, who can monitor your progress with you.
Narratives don’t need to be just words; they can also include visuals. Adding graphs and infographics to your content allows a further understanding of what you’re promoting and adds credibility to them. Images can be utilized for showcasing achievements, outreach, and goal-reaching more enthusiastically. You want this moment to be memorable for yourself and your audience, so adding images of the event you held or the award you received means you genuinely want to share how that moment looked and what it means to you.
Videos can be very versatile. While they can capture memories, they can also be used to fit a good amount of content into one short-form container. Visual storytelling further boosts your profile’s narrative, allowing credibility, memorability, and compactness to your content.
Tell your story!
Creating and editing your profile can be a lot like crafting a story. While it’s challenging to start, you can showcase the best version of yourself to your LinkedIn audience after getting the hang of these techniques. So, what are you waiting for? Tell your story!
Was there anything that you’ll be applying to your profile in the future? Let us know in the comments!