Make the Most of Your LinkedIn Headline

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.

Keyword-Rich Headlines

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

Benefits-Focused Headlines

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.

Be Bold in Growing Your LinkedIn Network

“In growing your network, you want it to be both diverse and concentrated,” personal branding expert William Arruda wrote recently in Forbes about how to cultivate a powerful LinkedIn network.

First, begin with why you’re on LinkedIn. What do you want to accomplish? How can growing your network help you do that?

Second, ask yourself this question: Who did you meet this week, who will you be meeting soon and who do you want to meet?

Third, take a few minutes every week to add to your LinkedIn network. Always send a personalized invitation, explaining how you know each other and why you’d like to connect.

As you build your network, make sure your profile presents you in the best light. Here are great profile tips from LinkedIn career expert Catherine Fisher and Landit CEO Lisa Skeete Tatum. They spoke this winter at the MAKERS Conference for women’s leadership.

Who did you meet this week? Did you start working with any new colleagues? How about vendors? Invite them to join your network.

What professional, civic and charitable organizations are you involved with? Invite key people from those groups to be part of your network.

Look at your email contact list, your Facebook friend list, your Twitter followers and so on. Identify the ones you want to invite to your LinkedIn network. The “grow your network” feature on LinkedIn will see who you already know based on your email address book.

At the airport recently, I ran into someone I met a few years ago at an event at my son’s school. We struck up a conversation and caught up on what was going on at our respective employers (opinions expressed in this blog are my own). To keep the connection going, I followed up with a LinkedIn invitation.

One of my professional associations, a roundtable for senior communicators, also had its quarterly meeting this week. At the end of each day, I sent personalized invitations to people I’d met. An even better strategy – one colleague sent invitations in real time during our roundtable discussion of timely issues.

Who will you be meeting soon? What’s on your calendar for the coming week or month? Will you be meeting new people? Send them an invitation in advance of the event.

When you meet in person, you’ll already be acquainted with each other’s LinkedIn profiles and you may find a great conversation starter. For example, maybe you know interesting people in common or your new connection is working on a project you want to learn more about.

Who would you like to meet? Are you working in a new area and want to learn from the luminaries in the field? Are there companies of interest you want to know more about? Are there second-level contacts you’d like to add to your network?

This is where the personalized invitation is especially important. Explain in a compelling and brief way why you’d like to connect.

Take advantage of the “people you may know” algorithm in LinkedIn. Is there anyone you’ve missed connecting with? Invite them to your network.

Lucas Buck recommends looking at alumni groups and people who have similar college degrees. He’s an area sales manager at Farmers Insurance who uses LinkedIn highly successfully to achieve his business objectives.

He spoke last fall at a networking group affiliated with my son’s school. What did I do the same day as the event? I sent personalized LinkedIn invitations to the people I met at the event, along with Lucas.

Here’s a sidenote about conference speakers. Introduce yourself and chat with the speaker briefly before they speak, if they aren’t too busy with final presentation preparation. Fewer people line up to talk with them before their presentation, as opposed to the larger group that tends to gather after the talk.

Back to LinkedIn, what strategies do you use to grow your network?

What’s Your Social Media Game in 2017?

It’s a new year. It’s time for a fresh set of goals. And it’s critical to think about them in novel and different ways.

In your professional life, how will you use social media to achieve your goals? How will you use social media to tell your story about your wins?

To start, think about how social media will change for professionals this year. Check out the post, along with Dorie ClarkAlexandra SamuelBryan Kramer and William Arruda for some fascinating ideas.

Then ask yourself these 4 questions to make your own social media game plan.

  • What are your company’s big goals? Is your CEO sharing the company strategy with employees this month or quarter? How about other C-suite leaders? Access any and all information, internal and external, about your company’s strategic plans for the year. Be clear on the top goals and the order of priority.
  • What are your team’s goals? How do the company goals translate into your department’s goals and ultimately your team’s goals? Where does your team help drive the strategy toward execution? What new and different approaches can you and your team try this year?
  • What are your professional goals? How do your team goals translate into your own professional goals? What do you need to accomplish this year? What stretch assignments do you want to tackle? On the development side, what do you want or need to learn? How will you accomplish that?
  • How will use use social media to achieve your goals and tell your story? Does social media play a role in achieving your goals? If it hasn’t before, could you incorporate it this year? When you achieve goals, how will you use social media to tell your story? What conferences are you attending? Where are you speaking? What are you blogging?

At this point, focus on “what” your goals will be. Don’t worry about the “how” at this point.

Why?

If you’re not sure about how to execute a goal, that can stand in the way of setting it in the first place. And just because you don’t exactly know how to do it, that doesn’t mean it can’t be done.

You’ve probably had many “first times” in your career. What did you do when your boss asked you to take on a new project, something you’d never done before? You can reflect on and use those experiences in the same way when you get to the “how” part of actually accomplishing your goals.

A former boss came to me some years ago and said the CEO wanted to do an employee engagement survey. My boss asked me to lead it.

That was beyond my role at the time as a corporate communications leader. There was a moment of terror, but after a few minutes it sounded like a fascinating project.

In thinking through the “how,” I realized I could build on the communications-related surveying I’d done, engage with experts and partners, create a team, map out a plan, execute it, learn and adjust as we went.

With so much information available online, you can research any topic and come up with ideas. Being able to figure it out is a skill that becomes more important every day.

I’m ever inspired by a talk that business leader Mark Cuban gave at my employer’s headquarters many years ago.

Most striking were his words about client meetings and commitments. A client would ask for something, and the group would agree it would be delivered the next day.

Later, Mark and his colleagues would look at each other and say they had no idea how to do what they’d just committed to. But they had all night to figure it out. And figure it out, they did. Time and time again.

If they could do it, so could I. And so can you.

For now, take some time to set your social media goals for the year.

Here are mine:

  • Amplify my employer’s social media strategy through its Social Circle, by sharing 3 posts each week.
  • Share appropriate highlights of my work in social media, by posting something at least 2 times a month.
  • Learn about how social media is changing and evolving, by listening to 5 podcasts each week during drive time.
  • Help others by sharing and commenting on their valuable content, at least 3 times a week.

Each goal is measurable, with a number attached to it. As the year goes on, I’ll assess if this is the right frequency or if tweaks need to be made.

None of my goals have anything to do with followers. In part that’s because I can’t completely control those numbers. Sure, the goals I’m pursuing are likely to attract followers. But I’m focused on actions I can 100% control on my own.

Here I’m influenced by Gary V‘s ideas on Building a Personal Brand, a Udemy course I finished today. One of the biggest takeaways? “Consistency almost trumps everything,” Gary says.

Another pearl from Gary? This one is for combating fear of failure: “Spend all your time in the in-between space, the time between starting and stopping.”

What’s your social media game plan for the year?

Don’t worry yet about the “how” of making it happen. “How” will be the subject of many future posts.

How Social Media Will Change for Professionals in 2017

It’s a new year. A fresh start. How will you revitalize your social media strategy?

You can start by thinking about how social media will change in the coming year.

No one knows for sure what will happen, but here are some interesting trends from personal branding expert William Arruda.

And at a macro level, Bryan Kramer has a roundup of  2017 predictions in social media and content marketing. This includes one of the best in personal branding, Dorie Clark.

As a communications and marketing professional in the corporate world, I think the following changes will have the biggest impact in the year ahead.

(This is where I remind readers that opinions are my own).

Life is lived on stage. Every day when you leave your house, you’re in the public eye. You could be photographed, recorded, tagged, tweeted and snapped, all without your express permission or even your knowledge.

The upside to all this? It’s one more incentive to live a high-integrity life. To do the right thing. To make the world a better place.

In the words from the film Ocean’s Eleven, “there’s always someone watching.” Make sure you’re presenting yourself as who you authentically are and how you want to be seen.

It’s not even clear how long our own homes will be a sanctuary from the public sphere. On Thanksgiving day in my leafy town, I spotted a drone in a nearby yard. It made me rethink my window coverings.

It also made me think about feedback. I used to work with a chief marketing officer who was a fantastic speaker. He owned the stage. And he always wanted to improve. After a big speech, he’d ask me for the video so he could critique his performance.

That’s a wise move for every professional. Take some time each month to evaluate how you’re coming across in video, in pictures and in words.

When I’m giving a big speech, I record my practice sessions on my phone. That has two benefits.

The first is a way to improve my actual delivery by assessing how I look and sound.

The second is a way to memorize the speech in advance, so I can deliver it in a more natural way.

How? By listening to the recording while I’m driving and when I’m about to go to sleep (a proven method for studying and remembering information).

Images trump words. As a word lover, it pains me to write that images are more powerful than words. But it’s true. Even my iPhone keypad is suggesting emojis in place of certain words.

Every social post needs an image. Research shows that articles with images get 94% more views.

Wherever I go, I take pictures on my iPhone. I may not use them right away, but I’m building a library of images for the future.

On New Year’s Day, for example, I wanted to share a personal picture.

The year before, my family attended the Tournament of Roses Parade (with reservations about the early hour and the relatively cold weather, by Southern California standards).

The perception of frostbite aside, my camera roll was filled with pictures of beautiful, colorful floats. A photo of South Dakota’s float of Mount Rushmore caught my eye. Four great presidents. In a month when our country will inaugurate a new leader. There was my timely and timeless image.

In addition to using my own photos, I subscribe to a few image sites, iStock and Canva. They’re well worth the investment, because they make content more eye-catching and professional.

Video trumps stills. For as much as photos are better than words, they’re starting to seem almost as dated as mere words. It’s the moving image that captures the eye. From Facebook Live to Periscope to over-the-top video, the moving image reigns supreme.

This will be an area of experimentation for me in 2017. I’ll start with a few short videos in my Instagram feed. I’ll try Facebook Live. And maybe I’ll turn some of my blog posts into videos. That idea that jumped out at me in Gary Vaynerchuk‘s Udemy course on building a personal brand.

Snap isn’t just for teens. Now that Snapchat is just simply Snap, it’s unavoidable in the news and the cultural zeitgeist. It’s how my teenage daughter and I enjoy spending time together, checking out her snap streaks and laughing over the funny moments she and her friends capture of every day life.

I’m still figuring out the basics, like how to take a decent picture that won’t be obscured in all the wrong places by the filter du jour. It feels like having all thumbs, like I did when I first joined Twitter and I hadn’t fully figured out why I was there yet. More to come on this topic as this learning project takes shape.

Professionals need a plan. With so many ways to share your professional expertise, ideas and achievements, a plan is essential.

It starts with setting goals. What do you want to accomplish? What social media networks should you be on? What are good ways to curate and create content?

From there, you need a calendar. I’ve been searching for a ready-made one, unsuccessfully so far. Right now I’m using an Excel spreadsheet. As this evolves into something better, I’ll share updates in future posts.

Right now, it’s organized by date, broken into weeks and months. For content ideas, I look at upcoming:

  • Blog posts on social savvy for professionals
  • Work news and events
  • Conferences and training sessions
  • Speaking engagements
  • Hashtag holidays
  • Personal milestones

For each piece of content, the calendar includes:

  • Posting date and time
  • Content headline
  • Content summary
  • Content type (e.g., blog post, photo or video with caption, etc.)
  • Category (professional, personal or a mix)
  • Creative (photo or video)
  • Channel (which social network or networks)
  • Hashtags (especially for Instagram and Twitter)
  • Status (whether in development, posted or in the comments stage).

What changes are you making in your social media strategy this year?