I’ve been browsing a lot of LinkedIn profiles recently. It’s been fascinating at times, occasionally makes me smile, but most of the time, if the truth be known, it’s pretty uninspiring.
If Professional Headlines are the seduction tool of the LinkedIn copywriter, a lot of us are going to get left on the shelf.
OK, so Richard Branson (or some clever person in his PR team) is in a good position to carry off,
‘tie-loathing adventurer and thrill seeker, who believes in turning ideas into reality. Otherwise known as Dr Yes at Virgin!’,
…but is that a reason not to try a little harder with your own Headline?
Why You’re So Shy
Many entrepreneurs and executives are surprisingly hopeless when it comes to promoting themselves. The B2B and professional services sector, my home marketing turf, is full of immensely bright people, who have an impressive way with words in the boardroom or courtroom, but struggle to market themselves online.
From my experience, they usually don’t know where to start, and self-promotion is just too daunting and uncomfortable. It turns out that 90% of CEOs haven’t a clue how to use social media so if you’re struggling, you’re in good company. Most people hate ‘bigging themselves up.’
However… ‘You had me at Hello’!
Compelling subject lines are usually the only thing that makes the difference between an email being opened or not, they even impact greatly on the likelihood of that message leading to a relationship or even sale. They’re the tease, the great seduction swindle and it’s the same for your LinkedIn Headline.
You judge other’s by their Headline when you are scanning your LinkedIn feed and they do the same. Check out the Headlines of some of your competitors, people you are following or some interesting people in your network. Use the search bar and pop in some words that you might use to describe yourself. See who comes up with your ‘people’ tab. You’ll be amazed at the variety and may be struck by the overall dullness.
Here are three approaches to LinkedIn headlines that stand out from the norm. Love them or not, may they give you a little food for thought.
1. Audacious Chutzpah
OK Bryan makes quite a claim, but I bet the average M&A lawyer could come up with some stellar statistics that might raise a few eyebrows “I’ve advised on M&A deals worth over …” etc. Not one of us mere mortals, but I know a few people who could rise to the challenge. And, if you’ve got the bare-faced cheek and facts behind it, that’s one sure way to grab attention.
And having spoken to Bryan about this, his reply was, ‘I get a lot of enquiries based on my headline… as you might imagine.’ Enough said.
And, Cindy Gallop (below), well let’s say she takes this approach to the next level. It might not be for you, but it certainly catches the attention.
2. Keyword-rich Clarity
A clear benefit of a great Headline is to stand out from the crowd, but in addition, there are important SEO justifications. The most prominent branding message on your LinkedIn Profile Headline is also the most critical when it comes to SEO. It will certainly increase your ranking among other users for the same terms.
For example, consider switching…
“Partner at X Law Firm” (your current position)
“Partner, Infrastructure, SaaS, Project Finance, Commercial Contracts…” (your current position with extra keywords)
This strategy prevents X Law Firm from becoming the main search term on your Profile while enabling other keywords (Infrastructure etc) to draw more traffic. They’re what might help others find you, or a service like you provide.
You’ve got 120 characters to play with. Use them!
Here’s someone who has this nailed the keyword route. Simple, clear, effective. No doubt what she does for a living. Not surprising she is a lawyer. Clear. Factual. All present and correct. There’s room for more characters if she wanted to add a few extra descriptors, but this is good enough.
It’s the approach I take on my profile right now. Uncontroversial, yet useful.
3. Authentic Visionary
This approach could be cheesy, but if you’re passionate why not show it. Check out the below headline. I think Ian gets away with it and shares some real warmth. You’ve got to be careful that you are being sincere here, everything you do in real life will need to reflect what you are claiming if you are to appear congruent. Maybe, check in with others that this passes the schmalz test and seems authentic.
I saw the dreaded “effective and efficient” in a headline recently. Not the best. If you’re going to go down the descriptive route, ditch the cliches or adjectives, find some relevant active verbs and give it some welly!
LinkedIn marketing is not tricky to master. Yet, cutting and pasting your bio and sit back and waiting for leads won’t get you far. You’ll need to apply some insight, strategy, and action to your efforts. And you’ll be rewarded. Having an optimised LinkedIn Profile Headline is the starting point from which you can claim your space amongst the noise and let your personal brand shine online.
Great, so your headline is sorted. What about the rest of your profile? And in particular…
What Surrounds Your Headline?
Your Headline is part of a wider visual story. Make sure your photo is zoomed in and that it is in colour and fabulous – no pressure! Smile, and make eye contact. You’d think that was obvious, but I have seen some shockers. Gazing into the distance whimsically is not a good message.
Your Background Image
There’s a lovely space behind your photo, your Background, which is a fabulous little part of the Internet in which to share your visual personal brand. For free. That boring connect the dots LinkedIn wallpaper shows you’re lazy, lack imagination or can’t cope with the technology. Can you please do the world a favour and replace it!
If you are employed, you might need to abide by corporate guidelines. That’s fine. Get them to provide you with an image file (size required – 1584 x 396 px at the moment – it keeps changing – watch out). If not, find a great, relevant image and use a tool like Canva to customise it. For free! There’s a bit of work to make sure it looks good on all devices (so check it on your mobile phone).
Once your headline is sorted, you’ve got 2,000 characters in which to tell your story. Another massive opportunity to boost your SEO with keywords. Don’t stuff it, but make sure you include your search terms
Of course, there is a whole load of other things you need to do to pimp up your LinkedIn profile and attain all-star status and I will share some thoughts on future posts.
Once your profile is looking the bee’s knees – you’ve got to ramp up your network, be visible and publish some content.
So What Are You Waiting For?!
This article talks about more than just the Headline because it’s not really something to do in isolation. However, in the spirit of progress, a fresh look at your headline is a fantastic start to having a great profile.
And remember you can always change your Headline. After all, the online world is a ‘test and refine’ kind of place.
Do let me know how you get on.