When you scroll through your news feed, what grabs your attention? A great headline, of course.
It’s the same with your LinkedIn profile. You can – and should – create a personal headline. Otherwise the default is your current job title.
This is a lost opportunity on prime real estate in your profile. Not only does it display prominently in the mobile version of your profile, but it also appears in a Google search that displays your profile. It helps you stand out when people are searching.
You have 120 characters to describe yourself in a unique and compelling way. You should use every one of them, says personal branding expert William Arruda.
Your headline should share both what you do and how you benefit your target audience. That goes back to your goals for LinkedIn. Do you want to build your professional brand? Develop a reputation as a thought leader in your field? Position yourself as a candidate for your next job?
LinkedIn expert Donna Serdoula outlines two approaches to headlines in her book on LinkedIn Profile Optimization. (Even as the LinkedIn algorithms evolve, this is a great reference book with underlying concepts that are invaluable for personal branding.)
The first is using keywords – words or phrases that describe you and are likely to be used in an internet search. Serdoula suggests asking, “What are the keywords a person might type into LinkedIn search to find you?”
The second is a benefits statement – what you can do for your target audience. Here Serdoula suggests asking, “How do I help individuals and businesses?” and “What benefit do others receive from working with me?”
If you can accomplish both keywords and benefits in 120 characters, that’s even better.
From my own LinkedIn network, here are some standout keyword headlines:
Shel Holtz – Communication Strategist, Public Speaker, Author, Trainer
Lisa Skeete Tatum – Entrepreneur | Investor
Allison Long – Professional Networker | Career Matchmaker | Connector of Dynamic Teams and Great Talent
Rene Dufrene – Innovative Business Development Executive | Team Leader | Alliance Design, Negotiation & Operation | Cloud Services
Erin Gollhofer – Global Corporate Social Responsibility Professional
Debbie Storey – Published Author | Speaker | Consultant on Leadership, Diversity & Inclusion, Customer Service, Resilience, Courage & Confidence, and Women in Business
Anthony Mirenda – Global Communications Leader | Corporate Reputation | Crisis & Issues Communications
Also from my LinkedIn network, here are some compelling benefits headlines:
Michael Ambrozewicz – Engaging AT&T employees in how we deliver a mobile and entertainment experience in the U.S.
Amy Posey – Creating powerful leadership development experiences and making work more productive and effective at Peak Teams
Gary Zucker – Helping marketers and researchers make sense of customer feedback to test ideas, build loyalty and grow revenue
Catherine Fisher – Helping people build their professional brand on LinkedIn
Glenn Llopis – Disrupting the status quo and reinventing the way we work
Anat Mahrer – Creating a compelling and unique employee experience
Jon Lara – Delivering employee benefit strategies that enrich participant lives while optimizing company financial results.
How A Headline Evolves
Before writing this post, my headline was “Communications & Marketing Leader in Entertainment & Tech.” My goal was to highlight my functional areas, my level and my industries. Brevity and fitting a headline on two lines for mobile viewing were also priorities.
Then I edited it into a benefits statement that included my employer’s newer industry. “Communications & Marketing Leader in Tech, Media & Telecom helping people and organizations tell their stories.” (Opinions expressed in this blog are my own.)
But that repeated the opening of my summary statement a few lines below the headline. So I went back to what Serdoula calls “a keyword-saturated headline.”
Now my headline has my “VP” title to be more specific than “leader.” It includes AT&T as the name of my employer – a company I’m proud to say was recently named to FORTUNE’s 100 Best Companies to Work For. And it showcases this blog about social media savvy for corporate professionals.
Perhaps this highlights the most important thing about any social media presence – always be changing, evolving and improving. Just like the platforms themselves. And just like life.