Thoughts From the Cloud: 3 Strategies for Describing Your Business on LinkedIn
In The Cloud Copy started as a one man band, under a completely different name. Back then, I was just “Kristi Waterworth, Writer.” That’s something that’s easy to explain to anybody who might ask you what you do: “I write stuff for money.” But now that “Waterworth Writes” has matured into “In The Cloud Copy,” I’m finding it harder to make people understand what we do.
I assume this is a problem that a lot of companies in obscure business services segments experience. Let’s not lie to ourselves, this is what we are. We lurk in the shadows, making our clients look amazing. Never shall our names taint the guest posts we created for our favorites, we simply bask in the satisfaction that they’re being taken seriously within their industry.
Then again, if you say that your company “lurks in the shadows like a literary Batman” to someone at a party, you’re gonna be mingled out of the ballroom as people mutter “who invited the weird writers?” under their breath.
What Do You Do?
Some jobs are easier to explain than others. For example, everybody pretty much knows what a fireman does. They probably don’t know what a business intelligence developer does. And so it goes. And while the fireman and the BI guy both work for a bigger entity and really don’t have to explain their job to anyone, you and I do because we have to sell ourselves constantly.
Have you ever just asked yourself, “What is it that I do?”
Maybe it came up over Thanksgiving, just before dessert was on. “Hey, Kristi, what are you doing these days?” You stopped, looked very confused, and awkwardly blurted out “I write the words that the whole world reads!” Your great uncle just stood there staring at you with those penetrating eyes of his, as if he was looking right into your soul. “What are you doing for a living, though?”
And so it goes. You’re the one who is constantly being asked when you’ll get a real job or why don’t you do this or that because someone’s cousin is making $15 an hour plus they have benefits, so hey, awesome, right?
I digress. This is about you, not about some distant family member you barely know.
So, do you know what it is that you do? Can you tell someone about your company without including a lot of unintelligible business lingo and buzzwords? Does it come out better than “I write stuff?” If so, please tell me your secrets (only kidding).
The Words You Choose Matter
After almost 23 years of being asked what I do, failing to provide an adequate description (I know, massive irony) and then being invited to apply for a prestigious position at the nearest restaurant / gas station / payday loan company, I’ve learned a few things about communicating with your audience, even if that audience is Aunt Betsy.
You have to go to them.
This is an old advertising tenant, to be sure, but it also matters when you’re communicating. As the Google corporate mindset ripples through the entire business ecosystem, it’s getting harder for some to simply talk about their company because the words they have are too rigid for increasingly relaxed attitudes.
I’m not saying this applies to all businesses and all of their customers, but I’ve seen a lot of copy in my day and a lot of it was clearly written without considering who would be doing the reading. The words you choose matter. They say something about who you want for an audience and who will be your main competition.
Strategies for Describing Your Business
Your business is a unique expression of yourself, don’t ever let anybody tell you otherwise. Because of that, the way that you describe your business will never be the same as anyone else’s method — just spend five minutes looking around LinkedIn and you’ll find that yourself.
Even so, it can be hard to drag those words out. I’ve written and rewritten my LinkedIn summary and In The Cloud Copy’s so many times I stopped keeping track. In all that time, I’ve found that there seem to be a few different ways to approach it. You can:
Be totally, painfully honest. No one ever chooses this. Painfully blunt makes people give you the side-eye. Most people don’t understand what you do or how it will help them, so you have to go the extra mile and add some pad and cushion they can grab on to.
Explain yourself in easy to understand terms. This is one of my more preferred ways to go in the Post-Google world. I find that being conversational and maybe even a little bit likeable is the easiest way to connect to people who need my services. So I write blogs like this and I describe my company in different ways. Sometimes I just tell people “We write the words the whole world reads.” You know, like at Thanksgiving. But I clarify by adding that my company provides the content for web designers, marketers, SEOs and mid-level businesses who need the exact right message to end up lodged in the brains of their ideal audiences.
Go full-on buzzy. There are still a lot of people in the business world that are under the impression that either everyone else understands their buzzwordy lingo, or that it makes them look really impressive. While I can sympathize with the first mindset, I find that it really limits who you end up doing business with. If you’re buzzing because you think you have to, stop that right now. Those people who do actually know how to actualize thought leadership among core demographics will smell you coming from a mile away.
The hardest part of selling yourself or your business is committing to a particular mold and starting down a path that may lead to riches or ruin — there’s no way to know. But that’s really part of the fun, isn’t? Make a decision and see how it goes. You can always rebrand in six months.