Does your company’s website help or harm your Professional Profile?

One of the greatest problems we have when presenting ourselves on the internet is that our professional profile is the embodiment of ourselves. But in many cases the professional profile with most credibility exists on your company’s website (if you’re senior enough) and that’s where the problems can begin.

Don’t get me wrong, there are many ‘good’ companies out there. Ones which give interesting information about you and allow you to show your personality because, after all, people buy from people and we need to put our best foot forward on the internet because this is where contacts are going to check you out on first.

In the ‘more enlightened’ companies your new website profile starts when you get an initiative from Marketing that goes something like this “Hey John, we’re really motoring with the new website and we need to get a profile of you up there – please fill in this template we’ve made and we’ll polish your wording so the look and feel of the site is consistent”

You duly fill in the template, bearing as much of your soul as you feel you are able and then it goes off to marketing – who do a great job with a professional copywriter. The end result is polished, sells you well and does a great job for the company.

If you’re with one of these companies – great, stop reading now and pat yourself on the back for their forward looking attitude.

If you’re not sure, read on…

The ‘bad’ companies (and there are more professional firms which fall into this category than any other) write a profile about what you do rather than who you are…

It’s always along the lines of “Jenny is a [insert your job title], she is responsible for [insert department] and has over 20 years experience in [insert what you do].” You may get a few leading clients thrown in to pad out the profile, you may see a few lines listing all the areas you’re an ‘expert’ in, you may even be the lucky recipient of education details but that’s about all you’re going to get.

Your profile makes you look and sound like a company clone (albeit one who has a great copywriter!). It’s very one dimensional and actually misses out what makes you good at your job (let alone what makes you a human being).

The fundamental problem is that these companies do not recognise that people need to identify with you to decide to do business with you. So your profile misses out on what makes you tick, what excites you and completely erases your career history and highlights (because they were with competitive firms and we couldn’t possibly mention them...).

I for one like to know a person’s ‘back story’ before calling them.

Let me give you an example where a web profile was actually bad for business:

I met a lawyer called Jane (not her real name) for about 30 seconds at a networking event. She was young and worked for a 3 partner provincial law firm.

I checked out her profile on the firm’s website – this simply recited what she did for the firm but very little else. I could have dismissed her but I’d met her and she was bright, sparky and I actually liked what she had to say.

When I got to know her better I found out that, up to a year ago, she’d worked for a top flight international law firm and had come top in her class at law school. She’d moved out of the city and to a smaller firm to get married and settle down. I actually found out that she really is a dynamite lawyer!

Wouldn’t it have been better, for both the firm and for Jane, if the firm had loosened up on her web profile and had given her a little more depth? This would have really boosted her credibility and that initial impression online would have been so much more effective and so much more likely to win business for the firm.

Which type of firm do you work for?

Steve Wainwright is Founder and Chief Executive of Profiled.com