“You wonder why I only talk about my personal life. But that’s all I’ve ever done.” Gabriel Iglesias.

About a week ago I came across a LinkedIn post that posed the question about whether you should post personal events on LinkedIn or whether it should remain focused on business, work-life activity.  The LinkedIn algorithm flagged it to me because – I assume! – I am connected to someone who commented on the post.  The comment was along the lines of you can post what you like because we are all capable of ignoring or deleting something that we deem not relevant for the venue we’re on.   To a certain extent I agree with that sentiment.  We are generally free to pick and choose what to read and what to ignore.  To be clear, here I am talking about content that strays across the work boundary into the personal, I am not referring to content that would be inappropriate irrespective of the venue on which it was posted.   A posted photo of a new puppy to the family would, perhaps, be the kind of thing being envisaged. 

I was reminded of the post during a discussion I had over coffee this morning.  I was catching up with a friend and ex colleague; someone who has like me has joined the ranks of the self-employed, and we were swapping notes on the merits of taking time out to write articles, blogs etc.  We were reflecting on the challenge of finding suitable topics on which to write and the value the publicity does/does not bring to our respective business ventures.  We then touched on whether it is right to weave personal experiences into this material.  I thought it interesting that we shared a sense of awkwardness around doing so, yet recognised that posts that have that personal touch receive more engagement in terms of likes, comments, etc.  In investment speak, personal stuff seems to enjoy a higher return on investment!

As I reflect back over the various posts that I’ve written and the impact they’ve had on LinkedIn, there does seem to be a positive correlation between those that are more personal and the number of likes/comments received.  It might even seem strange to even contemplate this.  Personal experiences make events relatable and if we’re able to put ourselves in the shoes of the author, we are much more likely to have a reaction to their experience – be that good or bad.  I have to admit that I find this frustrating at times.  As an introvert, I am much more comfortable writing about abstract ideas or basing my posts on topic-based research rather than how I feel about something.  Yet doing research takes time and effort, so it can be galling when that endeavour is unrewarded by lack of recognition.

This balance of personal and professional is a theme that comes up when constructing the pitch for asset managers to relay how they go about investing.  Too often pitch books are full of detailed text, complicated diagrams and flow charts and underplay the personalities of the people involved.  Yet it is those sparks of individuality, when a portfolio manager is set free from the formal text and allowed to share their passion for a particular company in which they invest, that the real story comes through.  Again, because it becomes relatable rather than abstract.

I am not lobbying for, nor condoning a splurge of cute puppy pictures on LinkedIn, but I guess if we’re able to bring some colour of the personal experience to the often grey landscape of business, it is probably no bad thing.

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