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This chapter is from the book

Start at the Top

This feels like a lot of stuff to cover. When you get to your About page, click the Edit Profile button in the upper right, and now, when you hover over various sections of the page, you see that you can click them to edit them.

For instance, if you click the little blue Change Photo link below your profile photo (or avatar, as it is often called), the system enables you to upload a photo or pick one from your existing albums, pictures people have posted of you, mobile uploads, and so on.

Your Profile Photo

Your profile photo tells people a lot about you. If you choose something too formal (those photos that look like they’re the grown-up equivalent of a school photo, complete with a cloud-like background), people will get one sort of impression.

The opposite can happen when you choose a red-eyed (from flash) snap of you where someone else was in the photo, but you’ve cut them out because it was a good smile. That never comes off as especially professional or inviting, either. There’s a kind of happy medium you should aim for in these matters.

Shoot for something personable that might also give a sense about who you are outside of work, if that’s acceptable and of value. For instance, perhaps you’re not only the vice president of your bank, but maybe you’re an avid fly-fishing enthusiast as well. This would make for a great avatar photo, insofar as it gives another view of you and humanizes you to your audience.

Following are some tips about how to choose avatar photos:

  • Don’t include photos of your kids as an avatar. People friend you, not your children (or pets).
  • Photos of your company logo are far less engaging than photos of you.
  • Cartoonized avatars are only cool if you’re an illustrator or someone in a business that relates to these.
  • Check whether you think your photo qualifies for “also looks a bit like a serial killer.” (Some people choose “interesting” photos to represent themselves on the web.)

Editing Your Name

The Google+ profile editor enables you to edit your name as it appears in Google+. You might be inclined to add something to your name that you want people to think about when they see you. But if you change your profile name here, by clicking your name and then typing in something new, you might run into a problem.

If you edit your name on the Google+ Profile page, it changes that information on all other Google accounts related to this one. Meaning, if you change your Google+ profile name to “Dave ‘The Incredible Plumber’ Taylor,” it’s going to change your Gmail account and your Google Calendar account, and everything else that’s tied to it. So, in short, you might not want to do that.

Editing Your Tagline

Think of the line below your name on your profile page as a summary line or a place for a tagline. What it might best serve as for you would be the answer to the sentence, “What do you do for your prospective customers?”

At the time of this writing, I have a little comment about what I believe I do for the world, plus I put an immediate and obvious link to my primary website URL. By the time this book is printed, I will probably have edited it some, and that’s okay. To me, this little piece of territory might be best used flexibly.

Your little “summary” section might be something you change often, like an announcement, for instance, or a status. Maybe not, but it’s an idea. For instance, if people hovered over your summary in the fall, they could be sent to a blog post or an article on your primary site that talks about how your business works in this season. The idea, simply, is that you can have some fun with this summary because it’s visible only when someone clicks your About tab on your profile, and as such, it means they’re open to learning more about you.

The Most Important Part of Your Profile: The Introduction

At this point, maybe you’re thinking, “Geez, Chris. We get it. You want the profile to be robust and good.” But to me, there’s a lot to consider, especially because every time I survey other people’s profiles, I’m left with an urge to shake many of these people and say, “You could be doing so much more business, if only you’d consider a few updates and improvements to how you use your profile page. So, that’s why I hammer this home.

In your introduction, write it so that people understand how you might work with them. Blend this with some personal information so that people understand what matters to you outside of business. Be sure to use links inside that text; although be wary of having too many links. (Because too many links leads to the opposite effect of what you want: People won’t click anything.)

My own profile is about as messy as my business life. I work for a lot of projects and companies. Therefore, I’ve done my best to explain how I work for large companies in one capacity, and how I work for smaller companies in another capacity.

In your case, try to be clear about how others will work with you. Explain what services or offerings you present. Be clear about what you do for your organization. Don’t write a novel, but give it more than a sentence. For instance, maybe you can say this:

  • “I teach franchise owners how to empower their franchisees, and I help franchisees navigate the complex waters of running a franchise. I consult in person and via online courses. If you want to see a sample of my online courses and some testimonials from professionals I’ve helped, click here.”

That would simply sum up what you’re doing and give people a sense of what they can do with you. That’s the goal. Try to hook someone in the grand theater of no attention span.

Employment: A Useful Hack for You

When you fill out the Employment part of your profile, the part of your employment that’s “current” is what shows up when someone hovers over your name in a post or in a comment. That is where you can insert a useful summary of what you do to catch people’s attention.

Mine, at the time of this writing says this:

  • Human Business Works: Large Business Digital Marketing Strategy & Advice and Small Business Tools and Smarts.

Write yours in a way that it engages people. It can be reasonably simple—actually, it’s probably better that it is simple—but it must be engaging.

Instead of “Marketing Manager for Pearson Publishing,” consider writing something such as “Finding great books about education and sharing them with people who love books.” See how that might lead to more engaging interactions?

Create yours accordingly.

The Links Section

The Links section of your profile is probably the second most important part after the Introduction because it’s where people can learn more about you and where you can point people to the specific pages or sites that best extend your conversation.

This is another situation in which a little goes a long way. Consider not sharing every potential place where people can connect with you. Consider also pointing people toward specific pages or posts on your sites, instead of to the main link, unless the main site URL is the best representation of continuing the conversation.

For instance, if you have a page that talks about your services, point people to that. Remember that you can select what text you want the link to present, so maybe a photographer’s will say “Photography for Corporate Projects.” It’s up to you how you use it.

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