Woog’s World: Westporter finds LinkedIn’s true potential
If you’re like me — and millions of other Americans — you have a LinkedIn profile. If you’re also like me, you slapped it together, posted it, then did nothing to update, energize or even correct it since then.
If you’re like Sandra Long, you think that’s wrong. You’re amazed that I (and millions of folks like me) don’t care or have the time or energy to tend to our “personal brand.”
And if you’re Sandra Long, you can help.
Long is a longtime Westporter. She moved here 30 years ago for the usual reason — the schools — and over the years, rose through the sales and business development ranks at Pitney Bowes.
She discovered LinkedIn shortly after it launched. Long realized she could use the professional networking website — which connects employers and job seekers — as a way to become more knowledgeable about sales prospects. The site was intuitive. She never had to learn its features. As LinkedIn grew, she grew with it.
In 2013, Long left her corporate position. She did not need LinkedIn to find a new job. Instead, she formed Post Road Consulting in Westport and Stamford. But the online networking platform is at the heart of what she does. Long offers LinkedIn training for large corporations, as well as small- and medium-sized businesses.
She helps university students, alumni and career-services departments understand LinkedIn’s power. In addition, she provides personal training, including profile makeovers, to executives, consultants, attorneys, job seekers and other professionals.
Late last year, Long became an author. Her book, “LinkedIn for Personal Branding: The Ultimate Guide,” is available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon and, of course, through her LinkedIn profile. Naturally, that includes links to her vast cyber presence, such as YouTube videos.
In other words, Long practices exactly what she preaches.
She preaches the LinkedIn gospel because she is a true believer in a world in which individual employees represent not only themselves, but their employers, online. For businesses that search the internet to learn everything about a potential hire, and for many people with a sprawling cyber life, they may not even realize LinkedIn can be the one place that ties it all together.
If only I — and millions of other Americans — realized that.
The other day, Long showed me what I have been missing. On her laptop, she clicked on the “before” LinkedIn profile of a foreign policy expert. He’s a consultant, author and public speaker, someone who makes a living by passing on the knowledge and insights he has spent his entire professional life amassing.
Before Long started working with him though, businesses looking to hire him would not have known all that. He did not have enough keywords in his profile. His summary did not tell his full story. There were no Amazon links to his books. He did not even post photos of himself as a speaker.
It did not take Long long to fix all that. She showed me his current LinkedIn page; the difference was remarkable. Don’t just take my word for it. According to Long, a robust LinkedIn profile like this guy’s means it appears much higher on the page when anyone Googles his name.
That reminded her of an attorney. Before he hired Long, the first Google link anyone saw for his name related to a nasty lawsuit he was once involved in. Now, his new LinkedIn profile pops up at the top of the page.
If you, like I, thought that LinkedIn is only good for consultants, independent contractors and disgruntled employees, think again. According to Long, even people happy in their jobs should position themselves as “thought leaders” in whatever industry they’re in. In America today, she said, every employee should be ready for the next round of cutbacks.
“Savvy people think about their personal brand all the time,” Long said.
Of course, if you’re like me, tending to your personal brand ranks fairly low on life’s to-do list. It takes time, effort and savvy. Long can do it for you on an ongoing basis, or she can teach you how to do it yourself.
Her blue-plate, full-service work does not come cheap, but she also offers group classes for $50. For just $22.95 on Amazon (or $7.99 on Kindle), you can buy her book.
Long smiled when she said all this. She smiles often. She calls herself an “educator,” but she is much more. She is a storyteller, an editor, a graphic artist, a psychologist, even a guru.
Hmm ... sounds like she needs to update her own LinkedIn profile.