LinkedIn as an interaction with your ideal reader

You can’t really know who you might be talking to on LinkedIn. However, because you can’t really write anything without knowing who it is that you are writing for, what we sociolinguists think of in terms of Audience Design, you will need to make a decision about audience for your profile.

Pick one!Screenshot 2015-08-15 09.01.50

Choose an ideal reader. Someone you don’t yet know, but would like to.  This will depend on what you are looking for right now. At various stages in your career, your ideal reader will change. If you are settled in your job, your audience may be primarily colleagues clients, or potential clients.  If you are job search mode you might be looking for people to informationally interview.  If you are just beginning, pick a dream employer, and then, a particular person who you might want to connect with at your dream organization.

Click on this person’s LinkedIn profile.

Do you see an “in”?

Are there aspects of your background that you have in common? Imagine that you were face to face with this person IRL (as you are already face-to-face with them online). What would be your way “”in”? If this would be a good conversation starter generally, like somewhere you have conducted research abroad, maybe this is something that should be on your profile (if it is not already).

What are the main things they should know about you?

Ultimately what it is that you would want to leave the interaction with him/her to knowing about you? Do you have pocket examples that might illustrate that? Might you consider just going ahead and putting some of these on your profile?

Pay attention to their style

What aspects of their style can you discern/emulate? For example, what kinds of evidence seem to get heard as credible in their line of work, based on what you see here in their profile? Which skills seem to be most valued based on what you can discern here about presentation order (length, repetition, etc.). Can you start to describe your skills, interests, and experiences using their keywords, using their kinds of evidentials or “ways of knowing” as support?

Listen – take a step back and look (aka listen like a linguist) to your own profile.

Remembering those “big things” that your ideal reader should know about you. Do these come across?

See what kinds of responses you start to get. LinkedIn completely changed for me when I added “storyteller” on my tagline. The kinds of people and the quality of interactions changed dramatically.

Reach out – Maybe you want to set up an informational interview?  And maybe you want to add a direct question about your self-presentation on LinkedIn to your list of questions?

Repeat – once you have met with this person and gotten their input and more input from interactions on LinkedIn and made more changes, can you find another person who you might want to connect with…