When I first started my career, I was a suit bitch. I wore the most stylish suits I could afford. I wore Boss, Armani, Ralph Lauren, and Canali. I loved them. I knew what stores had the best sales, and how to get these #badass suits for as cheap as possible. As my career progressed and I made more money, I began to have my shirts custom made. They had English spread collars with French cuffs. I wore Ferragamo and Gucci shoes with my suits. I even had a pair of Georg Jensen period cuff links. They were sick. My goal was to be the best dressed; most put together sales person on the planet. I wanted every person who met me to see me as a badass salesperson who knew his shit. I wanted to command the room the second I walked into it. I was going to leave no doubt that I was legit, and they needed to pay attention.
In those days, that being the 90’s, there was no LinkedIn. The Internet, as a tool, was in its infancy. Social media, ha! Whatever! Therefore, like the 100 years before, a suit was your credibility calling card. Suits told the world that you were a professional. It was the first thing people saw and what they drew their first impressions on. Suits established a sort of first impression hierarchy, where those without suits or cheap suits were pegged as lower, less credible than those with nice suits. To prove my point, I knew NOT to wear a short sleeve dress shirt. What’s the first thing you think about when you see a guy wearing a short sleeve dress shirt and a tie? It’s not credibility; I can tell you that.
Because there was so little information available to us at that time, suits and our physical appearance played an enormous role in our branding and first impressions. Today, however, that’s changed.
Today, your LinkedIn profile is your suit.
Today people, for the most part, could care less if you’re wearing a suit. Thanks to LinkedIn people know what you look like, who you are, what you’ve done, and your value to them long before you ever step foot in their office. The need to convey competence via appearance is unnecessary. Suits only matter now at weddings and funerals.
The Internet, Google and in particular LinkedIn has redefined first impressions and how we develop them.
So, here is the question. If LinkedIn is, is the new suit, what are you wearing? Are you wearing a designer Armani or a cheap J.C. Penny suit?
You’re wearing an Armani or Canali suit if:
- Your LinkedIn profile contains rich media
- PDF’s, HTML Links, Video (yes video!), PPT. and more showcasing your work
- You have at least 500+ connections
- You’ve received at least three recommendations
- You’ve been endorsed for multiples skills at least 25 times for each skill
- You’ve given at least three recommendations of others work
- Your summary focuses on the customer (others, not just you), your value?
- Clean headshot photo
- It has your full contact info
A J.C. Penny suit looks like this:
Your LinkedIn profile contains no rich media; you are unable to showcase the work you’ve done or anything you’ve created
- You have less than 500 connections
- No one has recommended you
- You have few to no endorsements of your skills
- You have a weak summary, listing only your accomplishments or what YOU want not what you give
- Photo of you fishing, leaning against a tree or swinging a golf club
- Little to no contact info AND no social media presence
Which suit are you wearing?
When someone shows up on your profile, it’s a first impression. Like a suit, if it’s a bad one you’re in trouble. Your LinkedIn profile is perceived by others as an extension of you. If you don’t have rich media and you can’t showcase your work, it can be perceived that you don’t have any work to showcase. If you have less than 50o connections, it suggests you’re not connected, and you haven’t built a good network over your career. When you have no recommendations, does it mean you haven’t done work worthy of a recommendation? If you haven’t recommended anyone, does it mean others don’t value your recommendation? If your photo looks like something from Facebook, it suggests you don’t understand the value of LinkedIn and the professional nature of the platform. When you’re LinkedIn profile resembles a J.C. Penny suit, you are unable to compete. It undermines your credibility and makes visitors nervous. Recruiters question your qualifications. Future employers questions your capabilities. Customers or future customers dismiss your credibility. When you’re LinkedIn profile sucks, it looks like you suck, and that’s not good.
You would never go to an interview or on a sales call dressed like a clown. When you haven’t cared for your LinkedIn profile, that’s what it’s akin too.
Suits matter less and less when it comes to first impressions. First impressions matter, but first impressions are now digital. We know who you are, what you look like and what we think about your long before we ever see you face to face. Just like in the old days, you need to make the best first impression as possible. The good news now is, unlike days gone bye, everyone can wear an Armani and it won’t cost a fortune.
So, what are you wearing? Is it time to upgrade?