1 April 2020 By Victoria Tomlinson
Thanks to the dozens of people who have signed up to be mentors to entrepreneurs and leaders – of any sector – in these challenging times (if you want to know more – go to www.next-up.com and click on the 500 mentors popup).
We have fantastic people offering help. But most have copied and pasted their LinkedIn profile or CV on here. Just as we launched this campaign quickly, so others are signing up quickly and many have said they will go back and refine when they have a minute.
But I know filling in your profile can cause a huge amount of angst! So this blog is to help you fill in the box – and in the process make it so appealing that people will want to contact you.
And below I have picked out a few Next-Up mentor profiles that I think will be working well to interest mentees, as examples.
These tips are written specifically for our 500 mentors campaign to make it easy for mentees to approach you. But the points I cover are relevant to LinkedIn and any online platforms if you are looking for non-executive director or other roles – and some also apply to your CV.
1. Understand how online sites work
First of all, you need to think about how all online ‘matching’ sites work.
In the case of LinkedIn, headhunters put in keywords when they are searching for people in specific roles. So they might type in
Clearly LinkedIn is only going to show people who have these words or very similar included in their LinkedIn profile. The search is done mainly on your professional headline (people think of this as their job title) and the About section. Your Experience section with details about your roles is much less important, so don’t rely on this.
Our mentoring site also works using artificial intelligence. Like most sites, the more people who sign up, the more information and the more matching that happens, so the quality of the matching will improve. As I write, our site is not even a week old so this will take time!
However, the algorithm is based on
2. Think about the person you are targeting
Long before you start writing about yourself, think about the person you are targeting – whether that is an individual wanting a mentor or a chairman looking for a non-executive director or trustee.
What are the issues they are facing? For a non-exec role, you can do research – look at annual reports, news coverage, speak to contacts who have been involved with them.
If we take our mentoring site, the mentees you want to help could be entrepreneurs – tech, social or other, business leaders, leaders of voluntary and public sector organisations. The 500 mentors campaign is focused on helping people through the COVID-19 crisis in particular – though there is no reason you can’t continue this once this is over.
So, what might the mentee be thinking or worrying about
These are my thoughts from talking widely to entrepreneurs and leaders at the moment – but you will have your own thoughts and had your own conversations.
3. Match your experience and skills to the need
Once you have your head in the ‘other side’, now is the time to think about your experience and give examples that would be relevant. For instance
4. Be human on social media site
The language on social media – LinkedIn, our mentoring site, Twitter – is far more conversational than most professionals are used to (this doesn’t apply to CVs which are still formal, brief and written in the third person).
If you can write in a conversational style, this tends to be engaging and give you personality. This is not to be long-winded, however!
5. Include a photo
A lot of people struggle with photos! They don’t like what they have, only have holiday snaps, can’t remember where they saved the photo they did like or are not sure how to upload.
My tips on this are
Having a photo makes a world of difference to help people get to know you and want to work with you. It should be a head and shoulders, look professional though doesn’t have to be in a suit – and make sure you can see your face. Don’t have hats or goggles that make it difficult to see you
6. Tailor your profile and information to each site or role
Tailoring your profile sounds so obvious, but very few people do this. I think people spend so long creating their CV originally that mentally they feel, “Phew, that’s done” and then use the same wording everywhere.
This won’t work for our mentoring site or for non-executive director roles. It doesn’t have to be time-consuming – four or five paragraphs on our Next-Up mentoring site will be fine. Just make them relevant.
7. Your job title
When a site asks for your job title this can be challenging when you don’t have a specific role. Some suggestions as to what you might say
Some people put ‘former’ in here – it can work, but probably having something as above is better.
We are so grateful for the generosity of everyone who has signed up to offer their help as mentors. And we hope that by getting involved, opportunities will come out of this for you in the long term – new networks, new ideas and new activities.
GOOD EXAMPLES OF MENTOR PROFILES (my personal view!)
Other blogs that might help you are
Victoria Tomlinson is chief executive and founder of Next-Up. Next-Up supports employers with a range of services for directors, partners and employees to help them understand the impact of retirement on mental health and create a plan to use their skills and experience in new ways to ensure wellbeing. A key part of our role is to inspire people with ideas and contacts, beyond traditional expectations. A former director of EY, she is an international speaker on unretirement, personal branding and using LinkedIn strategically as well as on leadership and women on boards. She mentors chief executives and directors, start-up businesses and ex-offenders. Victoria is Honorary Teaching Fellow at Lancaster University and chaired an advisory board for University of Leeds.