Zen and the Art of the LinkedIn Profile

“The real cycle you’re working on is a cycle called yourself.” ~ Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

I must confess, I was intimidated by LinkedIn.  At one time it was described to me as a “huge digital Rolodex that focuses on networking for professionals”.  Ew. 

Being a creative-type writer-person, I never seem to fit in to these work-y, efficiently polished places.  But during the pandemic, low on income and at a crossroads, I saw the opportunity to potentially start my freelance copywriting business in earnest, so I decided to stick my toe in by signing up for “The 21 Day LinkedIn Challenge”.  The instructor, Ilise Benun, a marketing and business coach, promised that she would take us through all the ways creative entrepreneurs can use LinkedIn effectively.

I did learn all about that, the ins and outs of LinkedIn, but the most surprising thing I learned from Ms. Benun was nothing short of a whole new approach to my work, my goals, and my life.

It started here:  We were working on LinkedIn profiles, and she admonished us repeatedly to “S-L-O-W D-O-W-N” through this process, and to take it one tiny, small step at a time.  “Don’t jump ahead” she said, “Give yourself time to learn and absorb.  We’ll get there.”  This was such a relief.  I didn’t realize that I had been on the Pandemic Crazy Train, anxiously trying to get somewhere fast, without even knowing exactly where I was going.  By slowing down, and focusing on just the next step, I began to develop some insight on where I might go with my writing.

Another simple but very important lesson:  to develop the habit of spending 30 minutes every day working on this course.  Be consistent about this she said, but don’t push past 30 minutes right now.  S-L-O-W D-O-W-N.  At first this didn’t seem adequate to GET STUFF DONE DADGUMIT, but again, I couldn’t help but notice I felt better.  My shoulders were starting to relax, and drop down from up around my ears, where they had been stuck for the past year.  And as I continued with this instruction, even imperfectly, I realized how inconsistent and scattershot I had actually been.  It’s like the old tale of the turtle and the hare:  slow and steady wins the race.  By the time she encouraged us to “listen inside for the tingle of an idea”, I was there.  I had given quiet, consistent space for my inner thoughts to bubble up. 

Essentially, what she was teaching all of us was to lighten up, have fun, be curious, and let go of the internal critic that plagues all creative people.  To go with the flow of life, and don’t fret overly about small things.  That attitude + consistent application = real progress. 

This was certainly all quite beneficial for me, but the biggest epiphany was yet to come.  This eye-opening realization was due to another of Ms. Benun’s points of philosophy:  to think of your business as a laboratory, and use it for your personal and professional growth.  That’s it.  Use it to learn, experiment with stuff, and grow as a person.  Allow events to unfold over time, and strive to keep an attitude of discovery, curiosity, and generosity of spirit in your everyday tasks.

I can say definitively that this was not what I expected.  I thought I would complete this “21 Day Challenge” with a good working knowledge of an online resource, but I got so much more.  I got a whole new attitude to work and life.

Oh, and I wrote a pretty good LinkedIn profile too.