I had the pleasure to interview LinkedIn expert Petra Fisher of Petra Fisher Consulting about building a powerful personal brand on LinkedIn. She is an international LinkedIn trainer, consultant and public speaker of Dutch-Australian origin. Her popular no-nonsense method helps you to create a LinkedIn presence that naturally attracts your tribe. The thought of being successful by just being yourself appealed to me so I went investigating further.
Scroll down straight to the interview or read first a bit about how we met and clicked, pun intended.
Authenticity is the key
When I first heard about her passion on “staying true to yourself in order to resonate with the audience you wish to reach“ at Spark Amsterdam inaugural conference in 2015 I couldn’t quite understand it. I will explain you in detail why.
I had launched my own business I on Image just a month earlier and started only then to pay more attention to the way I presented myself on professional platforms such as LinkedIn. At that stage my own digital presence was a generic caterer-for-all, careful not to upset anyone or to step on anyone’s toes. In other words inexperienced and far away from my immediate comfort zone but I was curious to learn more and to do better. And this is how I write about it now.
After the conference I sent her a blind LinkedIn invitation which she kindly replied with advice to always customize your LinkedIn invitations so that they make sense to the person who you would like to connect with. Such a simple advice that helps you make a great first impression while making a meaningful connection with someone. Since then I have always tried to customize my invitations and I found out that the routine keeps me also well up to date on who I know and from where.
Back to me not understanding her message. I didn’t understand it because I myself wasn’t ready to throw my authentic self in the ring and to reveal what really rocked my world. I thought that a good image consulting service would sell itself just like that. Spoiler alert: it quite didn’t and it never will. If you want to be one-of-a-kind you really can’t be like everyone else. You should be, and you are, enough. And that applies also to your digital presence.
I realized that her statement had sparked an emotional reaction in me, which meant that it was a successful one. And that my emotional reaction was a positive one and that I wanted to be in her tribe. Today she is here on I on Image’s blog to help you to gain the online visibility that goes seamlessly together with your personal image and that strengthens your personal brand.
Interview with Petra Fisher
Company name: Petra Fisher Consulting
Background: Social Work, then Trainer, now Independent LinkedIn Consultant
Passionate about training people on LinkedIn because: It is so much more than establishing a half-decent presence on LinkedIn. The experience empowers people, I love seeing how they become aware that they have way more to show than they gave themselves to credit for.
Pet peeves on LinkedIn: People complaining about LinkedIn. It is a free service, you are using it out of your free will and it is constantly developing whilst there are 610 million users on the live platform. Glitches are to be expected.
1. You are a big advocate on people bringing out their authentic self on LinkedIn. But how to get started on expressing your personal brand with an engaging story?
The authenticity is key. If people read your profile and later meet you they must feel like they already know you. Authenticity comes out in the clothes you wear on your profile picture. The tone of voice you use in your writing. The media you add to your profile.
2. I like the aspect of attracting similar people through authenticity and then being able to enjoy being yourself instead of putting on a role, which I find simply exhausting. How to find your voice in a very noisy world of social media?
I think you’ve just answered your own question. Don’t put on an act. Be yourself, share knowledge, add value and don’t try too hard. That way your LinkedIn presence becomes a natural filter. Some people will run a mile. Others, who will contact you, will be the people who you get along with like a house on fire and who are a brilliant fit for your services and your style of service delivery.
3. What LinkedIn advice would you give to someone very shy?
I find online to be a safe space. I don’t have to walk up to people. If they visit my profile, frown and move on, I’ll never know about it. When I go to a networking event, a meeting or another work-do I check the attendance and look people up on LinkedIn. From the safety of my home, hiding behind my screen I will send in invitation to connect mentioning we will both attend such and such a meeting. How about we connect here and maybe shake hands next week.
This means at the event people will come up to me, introduce themselves and thank me for my kind message. Problem solved, I don’t have to walk up to people and yet won’t be a wallflower.
4. What are the LinkedIn must-haves that every profile needs to have? Is there any LinkedIn advice that people can forget in 2019?
Not sure about the advice to forget. I tend to give advice that holds true even if the platform changes, it is more about networking. Must-haves are the ingredients to create a killer first impression. People take seconds to decide if your profile is worth exploring. Make sure the headline is clear about what you do and whom for.
Then add a banner that supports and strengthens this message. Have a clear profile picture that goes well with the banner (make you pop out) and smile directly into the camera. Last but not least, the three opening lines of your summary should be less about you. Instead they should directly talk to your visitor, they need to feel that you understand them and that you are the right person to help out.
5. How important your LinkedIn profile photo really is?
Extremely important. I have a LinkedIn Profile Headline that evokes strong reactions in people. They literally love or hate it. This works well for me. However, before people might even read this, theie LinkedIn head shot influences people in a split second. In my case, although I am casual, the head shot shows me wearing a jacket and even a dash of make-up.
LinkedIn is your professional presence. If you have a picture with the arm of your cropped-out partner showing, it tells people you don’t pay attention to detail. If you artistically glance sideways people feel you look straight past them. First impressions are made in a split second. If I rock up somewhere looking crap I can still fix it by delivering a brilliant training. When people see you online, what they see is what they get.
6. What is your opinion about LinkedIn becoming more and more social platform? I see people are posting more about personal things on LinkedIn and some have even been asked on a date on it. Where in your opinion goes the line what belongs to LinkedIn and what should absolutely stay away?
To me LinkedIn is work related. All things I like (as in enjoy or agree with) that are not related to my area of expertise I keep to Facebook. Having said that, people do business with people (Bob Burg) so I do believe it is good to add a personal touch. You do this with your tone of voice and choice of words and maybe once every 10-20 posts you do something more personal, to give people a peek about who you are.
7. Is there anything mind-blowing that you would like to tell us about LinkedIn?
It is a tool. Nothing more and nothing less. YOU need to do the work. LinkedIn is a network. Networking is a verb. A ‘doing-word’. Don’t set up a profile, sit back and expect magic to happen.
Thank you very much for the great LinkedIn personal branding tips Petra! I am sure we can all use them to develop our personal image for better job opportunities.
Your image consultant with an eye for detail
MORE ABOUT PETRA FISHER
Petra lives with her teenage daughter and big fat red cat.
She loves walking, reading and crochet.
Petra has been featured on local TV and podcasts around the globe https://petrafisher.com/
She shares her tips freely through her blog (when she remembers) https://petrafisher.com/blogs