How to Strike the Right Balance on LinkedIn: Authenticity vs. Oversharing

linkedin authenticity vs oversharing

In the vast realm of work-based social networking platforms, LinkedIn reigns as a titan. With a staggering count of over 930 million users gracing its digital halls, it has become an undeniable force in the professional landscape. However, amidst its vast ecosystem encompassing topics from digital marketing to the intriguing realms of web3, one question lingers in the minds of individuals like yourself, seeking the next big opportunity or desiring to showcase their past achievements: How should you truly present yourself on this influential platform?

Navigating the fine line between professional content, personal anecdotes, and the perilous territory of oversharing is no easy feat. It raises a profound query: How much of your authentic self should you reveal on LinkedIn, and could humanizing your profile potentially veer into uncharted territories? Today, let us embark on a journey to uncover the answers together.

Understand what you want to contribute to the platform and your profile

Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter, shares an illuminating example of a client who embraced authenticity by sharing a powerful story. Growing up in a disadvantaged neighborhood, he witnessed the resilience of his parents. His mother instilled in him the belief that he could achieve anything he desired, despite the challenges they faced. Additionally, his father’s unwavering dedication to his job at a steel mill exemplified the value of hard work. Inspired by these influential figures in his life, he embarked on a transformative journey, transitioning from a front-line auto salesman to eventually owning multiple dealerships.

This individual not only embraced the notion that anything is possible, thanks to his mother’s unwavering belief, but also recognized that success requires diligent effort and perseverance, drawing inspiration from his father’s unwavering commitment to his job.

Barrett-Poindexter’s example showcases the power of authenticity and how personal experiences can shape one’s professional journey. By infusing your LinkedIn profile with genuine stories and lessons learned, you can create a compelling narrative that resonates with your audience and highlights your unique path to success.

So, as you navigate your presence on LinkedIn, consider the valuable lessons and experiences from your personal and career life. Craft your profile to reflect the transformative moments that have shaped you, demonstrating your unwavering determination and the belief that success is attainable through hard work and perseverance. Embracing your authentic self and sharing your genuine story can inspire others and foster meaningful connections within the LinkedIn community.

Decide what authenticity means for you

In a thought-provoking 2020 Deloitte study, it was revealed that a significant 48% of employees feel compelled to conceal parts of their lived experiences or identities based on the perception that their managers or company leadership prefer them to “cover up.” Consequently, choosing to embrace authenticity on a public platform like LinkedIn may appear to contradict long-held beliefs within many companies and work cultures.

However, when it comes to presenting your true self on LinkedIn, arming yourself with knowledge can empower you to make informed decisions. Understanding which sections of your LinkedIn profile can benefit from authenticity and intentionality is crucial. According to Barrett-Poindexter, the Professional Headline and About (formerly Summary) sections are paramount in this regard. Additionally, consider utilizing attachments such as video interviews and articles to showcase your personality and add a human touch to your profile.

It’s worth noting that authenticity doesn’t solely rely on your own words. LinkedIn provides sections like “Recommendations,” where you can highlight how your former colleagues perceive you. These recommendations serve as powerful testimonials, further bolstering your authenticity and credibility.

By strategically infusing authenticity into these sections of your LinkedIn profile, you can break free from the constraints that may have previously stifled self-expression. Demonstrating who you truly are, beyond just a list of qualifications, allows potential employers, clients, and connections to see the multifaceted individual behind the professional facade.

While the journey toward authenticity on LinkedIn may initially seem daunting, it’s important to remember that the tide is shifting. More and more companies are recognizing the value of diversity, inclusion, and genuine expression in the workplace. By embracing your authentic self on LinkedIn, you not only contribute to your own professional growth, but also inspire positive change within your industry and encourage others to do the same.

How to be more authentic on LinkedIn

When you’re ready to optimize your LinkedIn profile, it’s essential to clarify your motivations and determine which specific sections you want to focus on. Barrett-Poindexter emphasizes that showcasing authenticity increases the likelihood of attracting companies and work cultures that align with your target goals. It also allows you to filter out organizations that don’t align with your personal brand or values, saving both you and potential hiring managers or recruiters valuable time and energy.

To guide the addition of stories to your profile, Barrett-Poindexter suggests asking yourself the following questions:

  • Are there any early-career experiences that you want to highlight?
  • Is there a specific period or encounter that significantly shaped you as a leader?
  • Did you navigate challenging situations while balancing work and life?

By integrating narratives that answer these questions, you can infuse your profile with compelling stories that reflect your authentic self. However, Barrett-Poindexter advises not stopping there. She recommends coupling these narratives with “challenge/action/result” stories that illustrate how you put your authentic self into professional action.

For instance, consider an example provided by Barrett-Poindexter: “Parachuted into a culture of ambiguity following an acquisition of a competitor with a wildly different culture; unified a newly formed 200-member organization by actively empowering small-pod team structures with a shared purpose and the freedom to architect solutions based on their unique skillsets.” Then, proceed to explain how these efforts resulted in the expansion of the business’ market share and soaring profits.

By sharing these stories of challenges you faced, actions you took, and the results achieved, you create a powerful narrative that highlights your skills, adaptability, and leadership abilities. Such stories not only engage your audience, but also demonstrate your value and the impact you can make within an organization.

Remember, optimizing your LinkedIn profile goes beyond listing qualifications and experience. It’s an opportunity to craft a personal brand that authentically reflects who you are and what you bring to the table. By strategically incorporating stories and showcasing your professional successes, you’ll attract the right opportunities and organizations that resonate with your values and aspirations.

What not to do when making your LinkedIn more personal

Renowned author and researcher Brene Brown aptly states that vulnerability is rooted in mutuality, requiring boundaries and trust. This principle holds true when considering what to share on LinkedIn.

Barrett-Poindexter emphasizes that one of the pitfalls to avoid is being “too real” on your LinkedIn profile. To draw a comparison, she likens the profile to a first date, where it’s beneficial to share enough to spark interest and entice further conversation. Similarly, on LinkedIn, the goal is to provide a glimpse of your story that piques curiosity, prompting others to reach out or engage with you.

However, divulging excessive drama from your personal or professional life upfront may not resonate with your intended audience. It’s unnecessary to share every minute detail of your childhood, early career, or past mistakes and crises. Instead, focus on showcasing the qualities that have shaped you into the capable and accomplished leader or team member you are today.

As you navigate LinkedIn, trust your instincts and share only what feels appropriate to you. There is no obligation to disclose everything just for the sake of authenticity.

Barrett-Poindexter emphasizes that the key is to share what is genuinely relevant to your goals. By aligning your sharing with your objectives, you can maintain a professional and purposeful presence on the platform.

Remember, LinkedIn is a platform where you can strategically shape your personal brand and engage with professionals who align with your aspirations. By striking a balance between sharing enough to spark interest and maintaining appropriate boundaries, you can present an authentic and compelling profile that resonates with your target audience.

More LinkedIn tips to keep in mind

When it comes to navigating and engaging on LinkedIn, intentionality is key to achieving success. Barrett-Poindexter emphasizes the importance of knowing your target audience and crafting a story that connects the authentic traits you share (such as courage, empathy, humility, discipline, and grit) to the type of role or company you aim to attract.

Here are some additional tips to consider:

Observe how your ideal companies present themselves on LinkedIn and incorporate elements of their storytelling into your own profile.

Show your accomplishments rather than simply recounting past wins or lessons learned. Use posts to highlight your achievements.

Maintain clear standards when posting on LinkedIn, and always prioritize politeness and diplomacy. For instance, instead of criticizing a demanding boss, focus on emphasizing how you successfully met an ambitious deadline for a groundbreaking initiative.

Seek the input of a trusted mentor or friend to review your profile and provide feedback on its strengths and weaknesses.

Embrace the opportunity to be your authentic self on LinkedIn, making it a fun and engaging platform that adds a unique flair to your professional profile. Similar to attending an in-person networking event, you want to shine as an individual while upholding a professional demeanor.

By adopting these strategies, you can leverage LinkedIn as a platform to showcase your true self, build meaningful connections, and stand out from the crowd. Balancing authenticity with professionalism will help you make a lasting impression and open doors to exciting opportunities in your career journey.

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