Let me take a selfie for my contractor LinkedIn profile. Or not?

There’s been some fierce flaming from keyboard warriors and even a few contractors about the etiquette of promoting yourself or your business on LinkedIn.

The debate has raged about the appropriateness of selfies, the merits of posting about one’s personal life and whether an occasional picture of your pet dog is a good idea.

Here, exclusively for ContractorUK, Matt Craven, founder and personal branding expert at The CV & Interview Advisors (Winners of the 2022 Contracting Awards Best Contractor Service), gives his thoughts.

Brand you

Like many things people love to debate, there is no right or wrong, just opinion!

The real answer lies in how you want the world to perceive you and your business.

Nearly all businesses dedicate some time and energy to cultivating their corporate identity and brand positioning, and contractors should think in the same way.

Whether you like it or not, everyone has a personal brand, and as Amazon founder Jeff Bezos once said:

“Your personal brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room.”

How the world sees you is your personal brand, and the smart people are the ones who manage this – you could call it managing your own PR. Everything you communicate to the world at large shapes how people perceive you, and this in turn shapes your personal brand.

Social media or not?

I’ve always argued that LinkedIn should not be seen as a social media platform. For me it’s more of a talent and prospect database to be exploited by job-seekers, independent professionals and businesses to attract jobs or clients.

That doesn’t mean I’m not an advocate of ‘posts.’ Rather, I just prefer to look at the deeper value in the volume of people that exist on LinkedIn, and how this huge database can be used to grow a business.

However, LinkedIn as a company has always seen itself as a social media platform and website’s posts/feed have attracted more and more engagement throughout the years. That partly explains this debate on LinkedIn etiquette. The point here to potentially factor in to how you use the platform is that LinkedIn itself regards its offering as a social media platform. So who are we as users to argue!?

The posts that most of us business-types write on LinkedIn support our commercial development efforts and where they stray from the straight commercial, perhaps they provide a human touch to what we do. Sometimes with LinkedIn, it can indeed be the bit around the edges – so a selfie with your pooch, potentially -- that makes the difference, and explains why a prospective ‘connection’ transforms from being a lurker to a follower.

Be authentic

On one rather impassioned thread about the suitability of LinkedIn for selfies, parallels were drawn with how people use other forms of social media, like Facebook.

For me, the difference between Facebook and LinkedIn is that Facebook is more whimsical and impulsive, whereas what you post on LinkedIn should be more strategic and thought through. If you have decided that your external persona is going to be very personal, and you believe your target audience will respond well to seeing posts like ‘Portia gets her first poochie pedicure’ then by all means post a few doggy pictures.

If you are doing it because you feel compelled to share your dog with the world because you had 20 mins spare at lunchtime, then maybe think twice. My point is that personal branding and social media marketing should be part of your business strategy, but that doesn’t mean it can’t include selfies. It also doesn’t mean it shouldn’t include reference to your personal life or photos of you anywhere but the office.

Thought Leadership

Thought Leadership is the deliberate act of developing expert status within a certain subject area.

I mentioned earlier that the posts we write on LinkedIn support our business development efforts and provide a human touch to what we do.

Well, in the same way, posts that demonstrate our expertise and knowledge can also tip the balance in our favour. Many organisations now use Thought Leadership as a tool for corporate growth including the likes of CISCO, PwC, Deloitte, McKinsey, and Dyson. These leading brands want leaders and employees that embrace Thought Leadership. Should you and your contractor business be any different? Put another way, have all these profitable heavy-hitters got it wrong? Probably not.

Let me take a selfie (sometimes)

In summary, there’s no definitive right or wrong when it comes to LinkedIn etiquette despite what people might tell you. After all, LinkedIn is a social media platform, so to my mind that must mean that selfies are okay – at least sometimes.

Similarly, posts about pets can work. And if you have some knowledge and expertise to share or even better, to tie-in to your seemingly random photo, go right ahead -- because that’s probably the sweet spot. Nodding to the social platform you're on while subtly hitting your business objectives. Generally speaking on LinkedIn, if you feel yourself getting a bit creative with your uploads or posts, remember -- if you are responding to the psychology of your target audience, cultivating a personal brand that they will respond to, and/or being deliberate about what you beam out to the world, you’re more than likely on the right track. Now, if I could only find the reverse feature on my phone's portrait mode!

Editor's Note: ContractorUK readers, if you would like a free appraisal of your LinkedIn profile, Matt's team would be delighted to assist. Please go to this URL www.cvandinterviewadvisors.co.uk/partners/contractor-uk.

Profile picture for user Matt Craven

Written by Matt Craven

Matt is the Founder of The CV & Interview Advisors and Incredibly Linked. He is considered to be a thought-leader in Personal Branding and is regularly engaged as a public speaker to deliver advice and guidance to global audiences on all things related to CV authoring, career advancement, LinkedIn, personal branding and thought leadership.
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