University of South Carolina :: Darla Moore School of Business   the Competitive Edge

with Kate Paine

In this video, Kate Paine, journalist and public relations executive, talks about the ultimate way for you to stand out by using a personal story in your LinkedIn About (formerly Summary) section of your Profile.

Why Your Personal Story is Important?

  • It makes you unforgettable
  • Makes you relatable to your reader because they can self-identify with something that''s personal.
  • Differentiates you from the competition on LinkedIn
  • Most importantly Builds the Know, Like and Trust factor. Also known as the KLT Factor. “All things being equal, people do business with, and refer business to people they know, like and trust.” This quote comes from Bob Berg who is an international best-selling author who coined the term for use in all ways of positioning yourself.

Note: Kate’s experience with storytelling comes from her journalism background. And She eventually became the Assistant Editor of a daily newspaper and I also worked over 20 years as a Public Relations and Marketing professional. She knows what makes a compelling story.

3 Steps to Tell Your Story in your Summary
  • How to tease out your story, to identify that little piece that will set you apart.
  • How to talk to your target audience, identifying who your target audience is. Because it is important that you''re speaking to your reader.
  • How to write your story in your summary and will go through various steps and examples to help you do that.

1. Tease Out Your Story: Many people will say, “Well I don''t have a story, everyone else does. But I have no idea what mine is.” But remember everyone has a story, even you.

2. Stories captivate and hold your reader''s attention.

3. A nugget of your story shows your human side. And when we say nugget, we are not talking about you doubt finding your personal story as airing your dirty laundry so to speak, or going in depth on anything and so much detail that you take away from how you solve problems and utilize your expertise to work for someone or to do business with someone. So it''s a nugget of that, that we''re going to identify.

1. Tease Out Your Story: Ways to Identify Your Story

12 triggers that will help to get your creative juices flowing to identify your own story. You won''t be using all 12 of these. You will pick one or two that will work for you as an exercise to try to identify your own story.

1. A memorable experience earlier in life
2. Why you decided to go into an MBA program
3. Personal transformation or self-discovery of some kind
4. A time you faced a challenge and used your expertise to solve it.
5. An exchange or study abroad semester.
6. A gap year experience
7. Transitioning from one field of study to another. Like if you had one degree on graduate and you switched over to your MBA, and there''s a story there.
8. How you were influenced by a mentor or colleague
9. Why you served in the military and the impact of service on your character or outlook
10. A trip or travel adventure
11. A time you moved or uprooted yourself and perhaps how that affected to you
12. A challenging or sad incident that motivated you into action. You don''t want to use this
to come across as sort of a victim in your story. But how you pushed forward and bring about the positive side of that experience.

The Top 4 Ways from that list of 12

1. A memorable experience earlier in life: This pretty much stands on its own: Think about something that really clicked with you and then you went through that will stick in your memory and how you maybe dealt with that; or how you want to talk about that.
2. Why you decided to go into an MBA program: again, maybe going from your undergraduate to your graduate and how that affected you.
3. Personal transformation or self-discovery: That sort of like number one, but it would be more specific to something that you''ve experienced that really affected you and changed your life
4. A time you face the challenge and use your expertise to solve it: This is what I particularly love because when people read your LinkedIn summary, and let''s say it is a recruiter or hiring manager, they wanna know how your expertise can solve a problem they have. Solving a problem means, they''re hiring for a certain job, they need you to take over in that role and bring your expertise into that role. So if you talk about the problem that they may have and how you use your expertise to resolve that problem, then you are really standing out and showing people more than perhaps your competition.

Helpful Exercise: Ask Others
  • Ask 5 trusted colleagues, former managers, supervisor, employer, a mentor and industry pear, or even a friend or relative to tell you what they consider is your strongest skill or talent. Because people see you in a way that you don''t necessarily see yourself. And you''ll probably be surprised by what other people feel is a showcase of your talent that they relate it to.
  • Do this by email, this is not something you ask in person because it puts people on the spot. They can''t have time to think of a thoughtful answer for you. So asking people by email and by the way give them a deadline like, “I''m working on my LinkedIn profile, really trying to show how I stand out so that I capture the attention of a hiring manager or a headhunter. And if you could share with me what you see is my strongest point, in an email, bullet point doesn''t have to be in pros makes sense in a verbatim way. I would be really appreciative if you could do that for me and help me up.”

2. Talk to Your Target Audience

You want to identify your target audience, you want to target them, you want to convince them to learn more about you. In this case your target audience is likely a hiring manager, a recruiter or a headhunter. Who do you want to know, like and trust you? And your story as you identify that nugget of your story, your story will make them care.

3. Write Your Story in the Summary
  • Now that you''ve gathered your thoughts on your slice-of-life story. Let''s look at some ways to incorporate it into your summary. And by the way you can also carry this tone or aspect of that story into your work experience for your current role for example, so that is current.

  • You can use it as an introduction to your summary. Your summary is basically a 3-part recipe: 1) There is an introduction that you can lead with your personal story to captivate someone''s attention; 2) The second part of your summary can be identifying that recruiter or hiring managers problem; 3) The third piece of that summary can also talk about how you resolve that person''s problem. How bringing that expertise and specific talents and skills you have will be a perfect fit for that place.

  • Begin with an aspect of your story and then weave it into the professional interest and a professional expertise that you have.

  • If your story is relevant to solving a problem, use it to emphasize your point.

Using Story in Your Summary Introduction: Story Samples

Story Sample #1: This was an MBA candidate from a couple years ago and she started with, “I swam my way into college. As an 18-year competitive swimmer; it was early on that I realized while an athlete at my core; it shadowed my commitment to student volunteerism...” So she decided that she didn''t want to be the swimmer and she didn''t want to go into athletics. But she wanted to advise and work with student athletes and actually get them to believe in being the advocate for something mission driven in this case. First sentence says, “I SWAM MY WY INTO COLEGE” and it''s in all caps. That is another way to captivate a readers attention. Because within the LinkedIn summary, once you are in the edit mode, you don''t have the capability to bold or italicize text. So this is a way to capture a person''s attention.

Story Sample #2: This story has a focus of being mission driven for this particular person. “Economic justice dries my passion for community and economic development.” So well, that''s not necessarily personal story, it is showing where her interests lie. And she talks about her philosophical believes in her mission driven aspect. In this case she is working within the renewable energy industry, so she talks about leading efficient use of land energy and other natural resources the strengthen the quality of life for our a most vulnerable neighbors.

Story Sample #3: In this sample story, the person who wrote this, it''s relative to their current career. This person is older and he is a land broker realtor. He talks about living in rural location in this case it''s the state of Vermont. “Expertise from a 7th generation Vermonter & Vermont land broker.” By the way that ''7th generation Vermonter & Vermont land broker'' those are terms that somebody could type in an SEO, especially the Vermont land broker which was one that ranked well in LinkedIn search and then Google. So just make a note of that, like we talked about in the keyword section of the headline video. “My love for land fascinates and drives me.” And he talks about it through the end of his story, “The decades of my involvement in realizing the environmentally sensitive nature of which Vermont farms, homes, estates, or commercial operations are built is-quite simply- in my DNA.” That''s again an action tone of voice.

Story Sample #4: In this story sample, this is a person who is in the start up business industry as the CEO or is the CFO and his business is outsourced accounting. He says, “I am a serial CFO and entrepreneurial accounting professional,...” So he has been specific and in stating his niche of what he does in his business. “I got started in the profession at an early age. As the son of Cambodian refugees who made our home in Arizona in the early 80s.” He worked as a CEO at the age of 16 and in by the time he was 19, he was actually a controller for the same nonprofit. So that''s very unique.

Story Sample #5: In this sample story, this is the one that we were referring to about personal transformation. This person is a financial executive he had been in the world of financial advising. He wanted to get away from that corporate city place and move into a more rural, suburban location to raise his family. So in this section in bold text “I took my first professional leap of faith when I moved to a small, rural state, lured by its quality of life and thoughts of starting a family.” We can all identify with that We all know what it''s like to move, we can share our personal stories through philosophy, and he wanted to raise his family there, again that''s something that we can self identify with, as the reader.

Story Sample #6: In this sample, this is the one that applies to somebody who is in military transition. So, this person is talking about personal mission and he begins with, “I clear the playing field, so others can swing for the fences.” This person works in a military transition program for those were leaving their active duty career and going into a civilian business career. So he references Neil Armstrong and says “That moment inspired me, showed me anything was possible and planted the seeds for my personal mission.” Then he goes into what he does as a career counselor to help people in military transition.

Show Your Human Side

Build that Know, Like and Trust factor. You want to give your target audience a reason to care about you, and reinforce that KLT factor. The readers takeaway is highlighting your human side because it makes you someone other professionals want to know. So whether it''s peers, hiring manager or recruiter. "Lead with a personal story. Give your audience a way to connect and show you are a real person.” And this quote is from Michael Hyatt who is a very well-known author in the business marketing world and really positions himself well online. So I wish you the best in identifying your story.