getting ahead

6 Signs That you need to Take your Personal LinkedIn Strategy Far More Seriously

Be aware of what your LinkedIn profile says about you without you even knowing

Did you know that women dominate every social media platform except one? Guess which one. Yes you are right - LinkedIn.


Did you also know that some organisations are making decisions about whether or not to interview you based solely on your LinkedIn profile?   I heard this interesting (and rather scary) fact as I met with clients from a major corporate in the Melbourne CBD.  And while I was a little taken aback at the supposed “unfairness” i.e. you didn’t even know you were in the running for the role and you were passed over without being able to stun them with your amazing new CV or wow them with your polished interview techniques, I’m actually not surprised.  

So if recruiters and others are able to make assessments about your suitability for a role based solely on your LinkedIn profile - perhaps it's time that you got your house in order and your profile into professional gear.  Here are the big 6 signs that you need to do some work.

1.     No photo 

This says straight up front that you are uncomfortable in a modern social media environment and don't really want to be recognised.   Gone are the days when not having a photo was simply a holdover from not wanting to be identified on RSVP (that "old" dating site - is it still around?).  Basically, if you don’t have a professional photo on your profile it looks like you are timid or trying to hide something.  

There is the exception to the rule – social media stalkers are real. For those in roles where protecting your identity is an issue then please disregard my suggestion re a photo.  However, if its purely because you are shy or nervous around social media – then its probably time to take a teaspoon full of cement and get with the program.

2.     Photo looks like a laptop selfie or that you’d rather be anywhere else but at work

With a few exceptions such as creative types, outdoor types and entertainers (where a creative photo actually sells "brand you") then remember that the following types of images are better suited to Facebook:

  • the home job selfie,
  • the pic of you holding a fish you just caught on holidays, or maybe
  • the glamour shot you had taken for your hubby last year.

  Think of this as your professional CV summary. Your photo should represent you - professionally.

3.     Too few contacts


Many sources say that the magic number for contacts on LinkedIn is 500+. I suspect this is purely for mechanical reasons (LinkedIn doesn’t publish the specific number once you bypass 500) and it means you are perceived as "well connected"

For those selling services and utilising LinkedIn as a leverage point commercially I’ve heard that the “magic number” is 3000+

Whatever the actual sweet spot is,  if you’re in a regular role that’s not about sales, my best guess is it needs to be more than 400 but less than 2000 – especially if you have been in business for 10 years or so.  

Contacts correlates with your ability to network in a social online environment. In this modern era with information and connection as valued currencies, then your number of contacts says a lot about you.   But unless you are selling stuff to people then you don’t want it to look like you spend all day on LinkedIn either.  It's actually pretty easy to load your email contacts these days. Just be sure to personalise your contact note (unless you know someone really well) and you'll be fine.

4.     Too few endorsements

If you want to connect with me and send me an invitation - imagine for a moment that I can’t remember exactly when I met you so I open your profile to check you out and jog my memory. Your credibility drops to zilch if you have no endorsements.  How do you grow endorsements? Networking of course. And making sure that your settings allow endorsements. If you are connected with someone on LinkedIn and you know they do good work around Stakeholder Management –why not endorse them?  And it's highly likely they’ll return the favour and endorse you for something you've got listed in your endorsement settings.

5.      No current recommendations  

Now this might be because you are busy, but when you remember that your profile is in someway the modern shop-front, public version of your resume, then keep it up to date. As soon as you finish a big project or significant piece of work, ask for a recommendation. Don’t wait til you are changing roles when you want to update your CV. Get it done while the quality of your work is front of mind.  That way when you do get to update your CV you are on the front foot with remembering what it was that was a significant achievement in the past year.  By the way – quarterly or half yearly updates of your CV are highly recommended in any case.

6.     Not active

Remember, social networking is social. It's just on a different platform.  You need to be active to be ranked by LinkedIn and "float" to the top of search criteria. LinkedIn even provide rankings for you to see how you are doing in terms of activity.  

Share, like, comment, connect and email away  - and here is a basic plan to get you started.

  • Work out what it is you stand for professionally - great customer service, strategy, leadership, wellness and/or success,
  • Like what others in your network share - as a way of connecting socially or as a way to enhance what you stand for,
  • Share links to articles  that inspire you professionally (with your own summary for time poor colleagues) once or twice a week,
  • Get involved in a discussion once a week - so comment and acknowledge you value wha't others have shared, add your insights,
  • Build your network - once a week get online and actively look for others in your network to connect with, 
  •  Don’t be shy. You won’t break the internet if you make a mistake.  Go on! You know you want to.

There are many more things you can do but this LinkedIn top tidy will stand you in good stead and keep you on the front foot.    LinkedIn is simply a tool in your professional tool kit that you will want to keep up to date. Given it dovetails really nicely in with your CV development and professional connection keeping, it won’t be a waste of time, especially when you do change roles.

One proviso – cat photos or videos or pics of friends and family are not really suited for this forum just yet. I’m sure the lines will be blurred one day, but right now, LinkedIn represents a platform you can professionally leverage and position yourself.  Don’t mix the personal and professional too much, too soon.

But most importantly, have fun. I call it the LinkedIn game. What about you?

Vive la révolution! 

  • I am the creator of The Ambition Revolution – the science and  art of amping smart and savvy. 

  • I mentor ambitious professionals to ensure they remain strategic, agile and focused on the bigger game. 

  • I also work with organisations who are trying to increase the profile of women in leadership, but struggling to do so.


Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months

What are you waiting for?

Over recent months, I have been publishing a range of articles reflecting on gender diversity, female ambition and what holds women back. This particular post is the first of a three part series on the notion of waiting and reflects on the Dreamer category in the model of Ambition Styles that I shared in How Your Ambition Style Impacts your Professional Worth.


Have you ever had the sense that perhaps you were waiting, delaying or stalling before doing your own thing - your next dream role, your next (ad)venture, the risky career transition, or that special project?  At The Ambition Revolution we reflect on three types of waiting:

  1. Waiting until the time is right (conditional),
  2. Waiting to be rescued (outsourcing), or
  3. Waiting to be discovered (agency).

And this particular post is about #1 - waiting for the time to be right, which quite possibly impacts far more women than men.

Waiting for the time to be right is, in a nutshell, waiting for conditions to be perfect - I'll do this when the mortgage is paid down more, when I've done that next course, when I've got more time.  Yet I put to you that in fact it's a delaying tactic that will stop you getting to where you want or need to go. 

It might feel safer, feel like the right thing to do, plus your family and friends might be more comfortable with this behaviour – but deep down inside you will always wonder “what if?” as you potentially suppress your own dreams and somehow diminish your desire and ability to do amazing work.

Waiting for something.jpeg
If we wait until we’re ready, we’ll be waiting for the rest of our lives.
— Lemony Snicket, The Ersatz Elevator

Those who are successful or want to lead, simply move ahead on goals, projects dreams or plans much sooner than those who don’t.  As writer James Clear says in a recent article  (bold added)

"If you want to summarise the habits of successful people into one phrase, it’s this: successful people start before they feel ready. If there was ever someone who embodied the idea of starting before they felt ready to do so, it’s Branson. The very name of his business empire, Virgin, was chosen because when Branson and his partners started they were “virgins” when it came to business."

A 2013 Bain & Co report, Creating a Positive Cycle: Critical steps to achieving gender parity in Australia, highlights one of the issues that is a conundrum - (Australian) women are represented well in higher education courses at universities and yet are not represented in the pipeline for senior leadership roles. 

"Why is it that women have been graduating from universities at greater rates than men for more than 25 years and yet a senior female executive still remains a rare sight?"

Brain biology and socialisation may contribute

As women we frequently place ourselves (careers, dreams and ambitions) second. There is considerable evidence available now that indicates that male and female brains are wired differently, that our brains are programmed in the first instance to scan the environment for risks and are far more focused on being prepared.   

Additionally, many women are socialised to believe that being well behaved and doing things right is a surefire pathway to success and putting others first is the right thing to do.  Yet, while it is now far more widely accepted for women to break with tradition and place their career aspirations as equal to men, it is still the aberration and not the norm and women are keenly criticised - openly and also subtly. We frequently see high profile women being asked by the media how they manage work life balance - yet men are not asked the same question.

The right time, while not always perfect, is now

When career opportunities come your way it is frequently never a good time.  Perhaps a Board position was offered to you before you got to do the AICD preparation course.  Or  your manager resigned or moved upward but you were still doing your Master's so didn't feel fully qualified yet.   Additionally mortgages and rent will nearly always need to be paid, husbands or partners will frequently be going through tough times in their own roles and children will always need feeding even as you keenly feel the need to step up, take charge or take on more responsibility.

It's a bit like buying property in Australia – there is never a good time. It's always expensive and the longer you leave it the more expensive it gets. Getting into the game is far more critical than waiting for the conditions to be right as the prices are always on the rise and, once you have some skin in the game, you will find a way to make it work.

In any given moment we have two options; to step forward into growth or back into safety.
— Abraham Maslow

So for both women and men who like to be fully prepared but sometimes feel as though they are "always the bridesmaid and never the bride", the only real advice is to just stop waiting and get on with it.  Richard Branson's mantra of  "screw it, just do it" might sound like rough and ready advice, but it will get you moving in the right direction and get you on a pathway to bigger bolder ventures far faster.  Let’s forget about getting the timing right, or the stars aligned, and focus instead on making things happen and creating change. 

Viva la revolution! #ambitionrevolution


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Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months