Who gets to decide what are your top skills and expertise?

What are your top skills?  The key question though is not what YOU think they are, but what other people believe you are good at. What do your contacts and connections say when they reference and recommend you? And what do your clients say?

A few years ago I had a surprise in this regard. It happened some time after Linkedin introduced a facility for us to ‘endorse’ the skills showing on the profiles of our first level connections.

After a while I decided to pare down the list of skills referenced on my profile. I felt there were too many and I wanted to remove those skills that only referenced my previous professional life. I had held a couple of high profile roles in the world of tax, I’d also been a tax partner and a tax lecturer. But I chose to move on from all that in 2006. My old tax-related expertise and skills are just not relevant to my new career.

So I wanted to ensure that no one was tempted to continue endorsing me for those tax skills. Or indeed any other skills that are irrelevant as regards the speaking, writing and mentoring I do now.

I also applied the same logic that I encourage accountants to adopt. That is to think about who you want your Linkedin profile to influence and what do you want them to think about you?

As I went through the dozens of skills on my profile. I noticed something strange. My highest ranked skill (with almost 300 endorsements) was ‘Strategy’. This was odd because, at the time, neither my Linkedin profile nor my website made any reference to strategic support or ‘strategy’ in other ways.
I asked a number of my contacts what was going on here. They pointed out that everything I did was ‘strategy’ related. Mentoring includes the provision of strategic advice, My talks all address strategic issues as do my blog posts and articles.

This caused me to reflect on the impression others get from what I do.

What about you? Have you ever reviewed the endorsements you get on your Linkedin profile? Remember, that endorsements are very different to recommendations.

I have long maintained that it is wise to only accept onto your profile endorsements for skills you really have and which you want to promote. (See: What I like about Linkedin endorsements – October 2013)

I would encourage you to reflect on the top 5 most endorsed skills/expertise currently showing on your profile. Do these reinforce the message in the summary of your profile and in your profile title? Or will these skills/expertise confuse your message?

My advice is to delete any reference to skills/expertise that you do not have or that you know are not relevant to what you wish to be known for. And then, maybe ask some of your close connections to visit your profile and to endorse you for just 3 or 4 skills/expertise that you genuinely feel are relevant and justified.

This exercise will serve three purposes.

  1. It will help you to understand what people really think you’re good at;
  2. It will encourage Linkedin’s algorithm to focus more on those popular topics when it considers what to do with your profile; and
  3. It will enable you to revise your profile to better reflect what you’re known for which should make it easier to achieve your business or career objectives.

Even if you are not on Linkedin you could still benefit from this advice. To find out what people really think are your core skills and expertise – as distinct from what you might think they are. If there’s a mismatch it’s up to you to do and say things differently as a result. You can’t force people to think differently about you. That will always be a consequence of what you say, of how you promote your practice and, crucially, of how they perceive what you do and how you behave.

So I suggest this is a sensible strategy to pursue 😉

About the Author:

Mark Lee FCA is an accountancy focused futurist, influencer, speaker, mentor, author and debunker.

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