3 Fears That Keep (Most) Women From Being Visible On LinkedIn.

Mildred Talabi

By Mildred Talabi


It’s no secret that women generally struggle more with being visible online than men. 

Being visible online means putting yourself “out there” on social media in a way that attracts the attention of your target audience for the purpose of building your business and/or personal brand.

In the course of my work as a LinkedIn Visibility Coach for women in business, I regularly speak to women about why they’re not being visible on LinkedIn and the reasons generally fall into one or more of the following three fears. 

  1. Fear of saying the wrong thing
  2. Fear of appearing “salesy” 
  3. Fear of showing up too much 

If you can identify with any of these fears, the good news is there is a remedy, so read on!


Fear #1: Fear of saying the wrong thing

Diagnosis: The fear of saying the wrong thing is usually rooted in not understanding what the “right” thing to say would be. For many women, LinkedIn is seen as a “professional” platform and one which requires a certain code of conduct. 

The problem is when you don’t know what that code of conduct is, it’s easy to feel intimidated by the platform and to fear breaking this unknown code by saying the wrong thing. Add that to the fact that no one wants to look bad in public, especially on a ‘social media’ platform, and you have a real barrier that keeps women from being visible on LinkedIn.

Remedy: The remedy to this fear is to understand that yes, LinkedIn is indeed a “professional” platform in that its original aim was never to be a “social” network like Facebook and Instagram — but it’s also a platform filled with real human beings with a whole range of perspectives on what’s right and what’s wrong. Unless you come out with content that is outrightly offensive or polarising in some way, it’s going to be pretty hard to say the wrong thing on LinkedIn — so go ahead and start posting. 

If you’re brand new to LinkedIn (or returning after a long absence), it’s a good idea to take a few weeks to just get a feel of the platform before you start putting out your own content. Read other people’s posts, comment on things, get involved with discussions on pages, etc. Once you feel more confident that you understand the platform (and how it differs from the other networks), you can then start putting out your own posts with the confidence that it’s highly unlikely for you to say the wrong thing. 


Fear #2: Fear of appearing “salesy” 

Diagnosis: Many women have been so put off by bad sales practices that they run a mile when the word sales is mentioned! If you’ve been on LinkedIn for any length of time, you would have received at least one inbox message at some point from a relative stranger offering to sell you something you didn’t ask for and have not even an iota of interest in buying. So many of us have had this unpleasant experience that it’s left a mental scar in our sales psyche that says, “I do NOT want to be that person — not now, not ever!”

It also doesn’t help that selling has long been promoted as something that’s rather ‘masculine’ in nature and best suited to certain personality types — the overly confident, self-promoting, persuasive types with the ‘gift of the gab’ who are good at making people buy things they don’t need or want. Not something many women feel they can identify with. 

With both these elements in mind, it’s no surprise many women are afraid of appearing “salesy” on LinkedIn!

Remedy: So, what’s the solution? The first thing is to understand that the word “sell” has been removed from its original meaning. The root meaning of the word is actually “to serve”. When you think of selling as “serving” your target audience with relevant services and/or products for their benefit, selling suddenly takes on a new significance.. 

The other thing to realise is that if you’re in business, you’re also in the business of sales — otherwise your business won’t last very long (as a side note, even employees are in the business of sales; you have to constantly “sell” yourself to land your next job or promotion!). The good news is that LinkedIn, as a platform, works on the basis of “social selling”. This is where you sell through building and nurturing relationships with your target audience, rather than trying to force your goods down people’s throats via your posts and inbox messages. 

When you engage in social selling correctly — primarily by serving with your content — you will be able to sell your products and services on LinkedIn with relative ease and without coming across “salesy”.


Fear #3: Fear of showing up too much 

Diagnosis: “Won’t people get tired of seeing my face?” This is one objection I hear time and time again when I initially start my clients on the journey to being visible on LinkedIn. As part of this journey, I recommend that they post 3-5 times a week on LinkedIn to maintain visibility for the purpose of building their brand and their business. 

This is when the fear of showing up too much rears its ugly head. As women, many of us have been taught as little girls to stay in the background and avoid drawing too much attention to ourselves. Unfortunately, many of us have also carried this mentality into adulthood, shrinking back at work and in our businesses when we should be taking front and centre stage. 

We think that if we start being visible — showing up more often and commanding attention — people will be put off by this, or think we’re being boastful, arrogant, overly confident or any one or more of the other negative associations we’ve assigned as a society to women who are not afraid of the spotlight!

Remedy: Think about your favourite actor. How many of their films have you watched? Let me ask you this — if they were to put out another film today, would you watch it? Chances are if they’re indeed your favourite actor, your answer would be “of course!” 

Well, guess what? The same is true for you and your target audience. When you really identify the audience you’re called to serve and you start to add value to them through your content and services, your audience will never get tired of seeing you. In fact, the more they see and hear from you, the more they can’t wait to see and hear from you next time! 

So don’t worry about showing up too much on LinkedIn. It is indeed true that when you really start to be visible on LinkedIn (and elsewhere) you absolutely will turn off some people, but that’s not only okay, it’s recommended! You want to resonate so well with your target audience that any and everyone who doesn’t fit this bill will automatically disqualify themselves, saving you time and energy in the process.

Did you identify with any of these LinkedIn fears? Do you have fears of your own not covered here? Get in touch with me via LinkedIn — I’d love to hear your feedback.

How Patricia McLeod turned corporate governance into a full-time job — even though she didn’t fit the typical board member profile.

By Hailey Eisen 

The advice that Patricia McLeod likes to give — “Pick things you’re good at, because if you love what you’re doing enough you’ll find a path forward” — sums up her own journey over the past five years.  

Patricia spent 23 years as a lawyer and executive in Calgary and Vancouver before making an unusual career pivot. Armed with an Executive MBA, plus years of legal, privacy, compliance and corporate responsibility experience, Patricia began to expand on her volunteer experience. She took board positions with organizations focusing on community and economic development, arts, innovation, and vulnerable women and families. 

In 2015, she began to feel that her board work was more strategic than her job. The variety of challenges and opportunities was exciting. Patricia wondered if she could turn governance into her full-time career. She asked a handful of women directors for their opinions. 

Their responses were not reassuring. “I ended up with a long list of reasons why I wasn’t likely to be successful in corporate governance,” she says. “They weren’t being negative, they were just coming from a different place — C-Suite executives who’d been specifically tapped for their board positions.” 

As it was pointed out, Patricia wasn’t even 50, had never been a CEO, and wasn’t ready to retire. Plus, she had no experience in the oil and gas sector — a bit of a problem for someone wanting to serve on boards in Calgary. “I remember thinking: They’re right, but where am I in the board world? I’m the gap.”

Nevertheless, Patricia was undaunted. 

Within six months, she secured her first paid governance position and within 18 months, she was appointed as Chair of the Board of Calgary Co-op, one of the largest retail cooperatives in North America with annual revenues of around $1.2 billion and 440,000 member-owners. In two years, she resigned from her general counsel role, had a full portfolio of board positions and was making more money than she’d earned in her previous job. 

“I’m not a pioneer on boards because I’m a woman. Women on boards is now a much more well-known and supported concept. But I’m a pioneer because I treat my board work as a profession,” Patricia says. 

And following her passion has made her happy. 

“With board work, you’re doing strategy, leadership, issues management — all of which is so motivating to me,” she says. “And it’s a balancing act, like being a consultant.” 

Today, Patricia sits on a wide cross-section of boards, including Calgary Co-op, the Beverage Container Management Board, Alberta Innovates, and the Calgary Film Centre.

 “I’ve learned to describe myself not by what I do, but by how I can transfer my skills.” 

She says her prior board roles with First Air and Air Inuit proved especially satisfying. Based in Quebec and Ontario, the airlines operate passenger, charter and cargo services in Nunavik and Nunavut. “This was the first time they’d opened up the organization to non-Inuit board members, and there was a great deal of learning on both sides,” Patricia says. During her term, First Air merged with another Inuit-owned airline and Patricia brought her experience in governance, legal and relationship-building to the merger process. “It was one of the most valuable experiences I’ve ever had.”  

But with no airline experience (or experience in many of the industries in which she now serves on boards), Patricia has had to market herself differently. “I’ve learned to describe myself not by what I do, but by how I can transfer my skills. For example, I worked in utilities, a highly regulated, high-hazard industry, which transferred nicely to the aviation industry.”

Patricia says she’s also needed a lot of self-confidence in applying for board positions — “for every ten interviews you’ll get one position” — and taking on a wide range of roles. She also needed to be willing to put her name forward for board leadership opportunities. She credits her Executive MBA with giving her the confidence to make the leap into governance and the success she’s having as a leader. 

With an undergraduate degree in business, a law degree, and years of work, Patricia went back to school in 2009 to earn her EMBA at Smith School of Business. “I knew I was a strong lawyer but felt the MBA would give me the business credibility I was lacking.” With two young daughters at home and a full-time job, Patricia joined the EMBA program from Calgary, with the strong support of her company. 

“The program not only helped me rethink the language of business writing, which was really important for me coming from a law background, it also put a huge emphasis on group work and leadership,” she recalls. “I literally use the skills from that program on a daily basis, when I’m chairing boards and leading groups, public speaking, leaning into difficult decisions and facing down big issues.” 

Completing the EMBA, she says, made her courageous enough to step into governance and gave her the skills to feel comfortable doing so. But first, it gave her the confidence to put her hand up at AltaLink, where she worked, to take on different roles beyond her existing scope. 

“Sometimes in an established career you are seen in a certain way, and you have to jar people out of that. You have to raise your hand and step outside of your comfort zone.” 

And staying just beyond her comfort zone is what keeps Patricia engaged. “It reinvigorates me, this board work,” she says. “I was recently offered a prestigious role back in legal, and while I was tempted, I decided to be brave and continue on the path I’m on.”

A LinkedIn consultant shares the 3 most important features of your profile — and how to optimize them


Is your LinkedIn profile the best it can be? If you’ve created a basic profile for yourself, but don’t know what to do next, here are the three features you can focus on now to ensure you stand out.


by Leslie Hughes





With over 630 million members in over 200 countries, LinkedIn is the undisputed champ in the world of professional networking.

Yet, whenever I’m at a networking event and I tell people what I do (I help to empower professionals and brands optimize their brand presence using LinkedIn), most people sheepishly admit to me that they aren’t using this channel to its fullest potential.

LinkedIn is the most career-focused out of all social channels, and we often overlook it in our day-to-day activities because, quite frankly, it’s not fun. But when it comes to creating opportunities and extending the reach of your professional brand, LinkedIn is a very powerful resource that goes well beyond just job hunting.

Did you know that LinkedIn is one of the highest-ranked sites when someone Google’s your name?

Have you ever used LinkedIn to research a vendor, or check someone out before a meeting? People are doing the same to your profile. You want to ensure that first impression actually impresses them.

Today, regardless of whether you work for a large organization or you’re self-employed, we are all expected to showcase our personal brand. 

If you’ve created a basic profile for yourself, but don’t know what to do next, here are the three things you must do now to ensure your LinkedIn profile stands out:


1) Use a professional photo. 

Your photo is one of the first things people see when they visit your LinkedIn profile. You want to ensure that it showcases a competent and confident professional. Investing in hiring a professional photographer is a smart choice, but even if you just use the smartphone in your pocket, here are some top do’s and don’ts when it comes to choosing the right photo.


  • Look directly into the camera. 
  • Smile! A study by Photofeeler found that when you’re smiling, people view you as more likeable, competent, and influential. When you smile and show your teeth, these photos were rated twice as likable as closed-mouth smiles.
  • Choose a photo that is up-to-date. (No Glamour Shots from the 80’s, please.)
  • Dress appropriately. Wear the same kind of outfit you would wear to a networking event or meeting.
  • Ensure the background of the photo is simple and uncluttered.
  • Use proper lighting. If you’re using your smartphone, natural lighting frames your face the best.
  • Crop your photo to feature your face and the top of your shoulders.


“Your photo is one of the first things people see when they visit your LinkedIn profile. You want to ensure that it showcases a competent and confident professional.”



  • Upload a selfie.
  • Crop yourself out of a group photo.
  • Include other people or pets in your image.
  • Use a graduation or wedding photo.
  • Include a photo of yourself drinking at an event.
  • Use a logo or avatar instead of your headshot.
  • Incorporate hobbies into your photo.

Having a strong professional photo can increase your profile viewings and also increase the response rate for people who will accept your connection request. 


2) Create a compelling headline.

Your headline is a part of your unique value proposition — and can let your potential connections know who you are, what you do, and how you can help them. Don’t use the default headline that LinkedIn will prompt you to use. Focus on using the right keywords that ensure you stand out.

The maximum character count for the headline section is 120 characters, so I highly recommend crafting your profile in a Word document to ensure you stay within the limits. The following formula will help you to create a headline that makes a big impact:

Option #1: (Your title) at (Company). Helping (your target audience) with (solutions you provide). 

For example: Marketing Manager at XYZ Company. We create unique marketing opportunities that drive awareness and convert clients.

This option is ideal if you’re responsible for extending brand awareness about your organization. Encourage your team to use a consistent framework so they can all become brand ambassadors of your organization.


“Your headline is a part of your unique value proposition — and can let your potential connections know who you are, what you do, and how you can help them.”


Option #2: If your role is multifaceted, you can use keywords to let people know what you do.

For example, my LinkedIn headline reads: LinkedIn & Social Selling Trainer • LinkedIn Profile Writer • Professor of Social Media • Appeared on CTVs “The Social”.

Notice, I don’t use my company name, PUNCH!media, in this headline. I focus specifically on keywords that help to showcase what I do, and some social proof to let people know I’m qualified to help them.


3) Tell a powerful story in your Summary/About section.

The Summary (also called About) section can be the most challenging area to write, but it’s also the best real estate for your professional brand to shine online. 

I like to call your Summary “your resume with personality.” I recommend writing your copy in first person (I am) as opposed to third person (Leslie is) because I think the reader feels more connected to you when they are reading your personal story.

You have 2,000 characters in the Summary block to highlight your accomplishments, build trust and let your connections know how incredible you are.

If you’re feeling hesitant about including your biggest accomplishments, you’re not alone. I’ve written hundreds of LinkedIn profiles and even the most senior executives don’t enjoy having the spotlight put upon them. Most of us don’t want to come across like we are bragging. 


“You have 2,000 characters in the Summary block to highlight your accomplishments, build trust and let your connections know how incredible you are.”


Here are two quick tips that will help you to feel better about writing your accomplishments.

Tip #1: LinkedIn is the channel you are supposed to include your achievements on. People want to work with the best. If you don’t include information that can help your network see how competent you are, then you are doing a disservice to people who need your help!

Tip #2: The easiest way to re-frame your “brags” is to use emotional language that focuses on the results you produce for your clients or how they describe you. 

For example: 

  • “I’m driven to ensure my clients receive (results you deliver)”
  • “I’m passionate about delivering (results you produce)”
  • “I’m honoured to have received X award, which acknowledges my commitment to my industry and my clients.
  • My clients have described me as trustworthy, honest and forthright.

I love the saying, “when you’re inside the jar, you cannot see the label” — often you don’t see the unique value you bring to your clients and your network. If you really don’t know how other people see you — just ask! Send an email to a few of your connections and ask them to describe you in five words or less. I think you’ll be surprised (and delighted) to hear what they think about the value you bring to the table.

As LinkedIn continues to grow, and as professionals lean on this channel more for building up their network of connections, you’ll be happy you spent the time to optimize your profile.



Leslie Hughes is a LinkedIn Optimization Specialist, Professor of Social Media, Corporate Trainer, Principal of PUNCH!media, and author of CREATE. CONNECT. CONVERT. She was called a “Social Media Guru” by CBC Radio and was featured on CTV’s The Social discussing how to manage your digital identity. Leslie has been working in digital marketing since 1997 and founded PUNCH!media in 2009. 





Two experts share how to successfully build your online profile

At a time when the next best option is just a few simple clicks away, building a
successful online profile is critical for companies and the entrepreneurs behind them. Jess Hunichen and Emily Ward, co-founders of Shine PR and Shine Influencers, share their proven advice for creating a brand image.




By Jess Hunichen and Emily Ward




When we started the Shine PR brand, we were told we were “too girly” to succeed. We launched the business loudly and yet lightly, with a decidedly less corporate- feeling vibe than what people were used to from public relations agencies at the time. Our tone and branding were fun and vibrant, with an Instagram account filled with quotes and colourful imagery — it had a bit of Kate Spade-esque aesthetic to it. The page gained traction, the business began to take off and our refreshing embrace of femininity actually helped us rather than hindered us.

In 2015, we expanded our business with the creation Shine Influencers, and now help our roster define their own brands. Competition has never been fiercer; at a time when the next best option is just a few simple clicks away, building a successful online profile is critical for companies and the entrepreneurs behind them. Whether you have sights of becoming the latest and greatest influencer or are starting a small business and are the face of the company, your personal brand image is a first impression you convey to the world.

Here’s how to get it right:

Conduct an Audit.

If you already have a social media presence, building a successful brand requires a good hard look at your current accounts; they’re probably in need of cleaning up in some capacity. Odds are, at least a handful of photos — perhaps from your younger and clearly more naïve years — will get deleted or relegated to your Instagram “archive” folder. Ask yourself if a photo or status update truly correlates with the image you’re trying to portray. The videos of your sorority sisters chanting their anthems may be cute to you (and your sisters), but perhaps best left as a throwback on a group chat. For an objective eye, ask someone for an honest opinion of your existing social media content.

Do Your Research.

Like any successful endeavour, a strong online presence requires a little initial research. Look into the workings of the ever-changing Internet: ways to gain traction and exposure, how to build databases and followers, and strategic posting times. Define who you want your ideal audience to be (and why) and familiarize yourself with people or brands that engage a similar demographic. What type of content are they creating and what is resonating the most with their audience? Although the last thing you want to be is a copycat — being your unique and authentic self is part of the strategy — studying successful brands and people who have come before you offers valuable insight.

Know the Feel.

Some of the most successful brands are intentional in their “feel,” which keeps followers coming back time and time again for that daily hit of that emotion. When building and maintaining your online brand, consider how you want your audience to feel when consuming your content. Do you want them to feel inspired? Motivated? Curious? Identifying this will help you develop and curate content that is congruent with the core purpose of your personal brand. Once you identify this, consider how everything from your imagery to your tone will reflect this.

Establish Your Voice.

It’s important to have a distinctive voice — and use it. Your voice could be intellectual, inspirational, motivational, sassy, funny, sarcastic, lighthearted or spiritual. Whatever your voice is, it’s important to try to be consistent online across all of your platforms — having multiple personalities won’t do you any favours. In addition to a uniform voice, your social media name or handle should be as consistent as possible across all of your social media accounts both for brand cohesiveness and so others can find you easily.

Consider Content Structure.

Having consistent content pillars is the final component. While it’s great to try new things and grow with your community of followers, it’s also beneficial to articulate what topics you’re covering and make them your staples. For example, if you’re a nutritionist, perhaps every Monday you post about a different fruit or vegetable, explain the health benefits and give a recipe on how to incorporate it into your week. Followers will find the content helpful and start to come back consistently to see what the next week’s recipe will be.

Build Your Personal Brand.

Have a clear focus as to what your brand represents; the easiest way to do so is to focus on what you’re knowledgeable and passionate about, whether that means travel, sports, entertainment or mindfulness. It seems self-explanatory, but it couldn’t be more important. Don’t become an “overnight expert” in something you clearly aren’t well versed in; the online world can sniff out that type from a mile away. Your community will appreciate the relatability of you discovering a new passion more than you trying to know more than you do. People follow personal brands because they want the real experience, so remember to be honest and recognize your faults if you make a misstep. In general, remember that your social channels are an extension of you; not the other way around.


Melbourne native Jess Hunichen launched her entrepreneurial career in 2008 with
Honey PR, an influential boutique agency. After a successful stint in TV, she arrived
in Canada in 2014 and became an independent communications consultant before
launching the Shine brand in partnership with Emily Ward that same year. Emily is
a public relations consultant with fifteen years of agency experience, working with
brands like Pilsner Urquell, Sol Cuisine, Vegas Tourism, Ontario’s Finest Hotels, Inns
& Spas, and Kraft Foodservice.

Lessons from big brands to apply to your personal brand

Most of us watch with curiosity when big brands face controversy or initiate change. We wonder what it will do to the brand’s reputation and how it will impact public opinion. But, there are also great lessons we can garner from these brands — as well as those who seem to retain a leadership position over time — in terms of how we conduct ourselves and shape our personal brands. In the age of social media and the 24-hour news cycle, the personal brand is more important than ever.

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Two Essentials that Brand Us as Caring and Effective Leaders

When you are blessed with the opportunity to work with talented influential women you learn a lot every day. As a workshop leader for Women of Influence I am ecstatic when my participants are thrilled with the experience they receive, that’s my goal but the bonus I receive is the learning and inspiration I regularly get from them.

Our focus shifts when we look for the positive contribution of others and we begin to see what was there all along. Acknowledging the contributions of my workshop participants has enabled me to amplify them and incorporate the best of them into future workshops.

Here are two leadership essentials I have become much more aware of since working with Women of Influence.

Pay attention to what you see. What we pay attention to, we amplify.

Our focus shifts when we look for the positive contribution of others and we begin to see what was there all along.

To get the most out of a team sometimes we need to put on rose coloured glasses and look at all the qualities and skills of those around us. We begin to see what was there all along, while our attention was elsewhere.

Have you ever had the experience of something (a word, a concept, a new food, an exercise or brand ) brought to your attention, and immediately you notice it everywhere? Did you wonder whether it was synchronicity?

Perhaps there is something wonderful and even unique about your company or organization, your products and systems, or your team you were unaware of, that when seen in a positive light can bring greater satisfaction to your customers and more profit to your company. In the process you may even have your team grow in the pride of seeing their contribution to the community they serve.

Leadership is not just about what you do but how your being motivates and inspires your team. If your being is positive by nature and you see your team as amazing, with the ability to do almost anything with a little; help or training, or by leveraging the strengths of each other more, or by being just a little less critical of each other you will not just motivate them but begin to better use them for their unique and powerful strengths.

There are Two Essential Ways of Being for leaders that motivate their followers, help bring out their best and help them see beyond what they think is possible:

1. Pay attention to your seeing. What you focus on, you amplify.

2. Be a person of high expectation. People live up (or down) to your expectations of them. Where is your focus of attention? Is it on problems, what’s wrong, what’s not working … do you easily find fault with others? If we focus on problems, what’s not working or someone’s annoying character traits–that is what we see and we often see it to the exclusion of other things. If we focus on problems in the false belief we are problem solving we can suck the energy and creativity out of the room and overwhelm ourselves. On the other hand if we focus on what we do well and look for ways to improve it we might just find the breakthrough that is unique to us and essential to our clients.

People live up (or down) to your expectations of them.

Robert Rosenthal and Lenore Jacobson two psychology researchers set out to prove that a person’s IQ can actually be improved just by the expectations people have of them. In a study conducted over a one year period those identified as high potential grew their IQ at a 50% greater rate than the control group. We don’t just get more work out of people by expecting more we also get better work. The phenomena became known as the Pygmalion Effect.

Leaders that view their team as high potential will give their team tougher challenges, expect deeper thinking, and listen more intently to their suggestions. Recent research with 1500 companies has revealed that teams better challenged where their immediate supervisor is seen as listening to and appreciating their input perform up to four times more effectively and contribute up to 20% more to the bottom line.

Dr. Lois P. Frankel a recognized expert in the field of leadership development for women suggests who has helped diverse clients such as Walt Disney, The World Bank, The Indonesia Women’s Leadership Summit, Miller Brewing Lockheed Martin, and McKinsey & Company, has a rule she calls the 7:1 rule give people seven pieces of positive feedback for every developmental criticism.

Most of us avoid giving developmental criticism rather than setting high expectations and expecting them to be met and when we finally do address the problem it is not in a positive light of high expectation and ends up coming out as sharp, blunt or abrupt. We are not leaders to judge others but rather to help them perform in an extraordinary manner.

Consider trying this Experiment

Look for the inherent gifts, the positive in someone who pushes your buttons, someone you don’t like, someone who you believe is a low performer. Then give authentic, positive feedback to that person. Notice how you feel and how that person responds. See what happens over time.

I hope you will join us on Feb7 when I will be leading a small group of exceptional women in a workshop on Mastering Me – Creating Your Best Self. I am looking forward to seeing everyone grow not just from the material and exercises I present but from the contributions of from the whole group and the learning I received from previous groups. For more information click here.