Updated December 2018
You might think that’s a question that only applies to newspaper editors, content marketers, and bloggers. But it’s actually important for all of us to consider…especially when it comes to our LinkedIn profiles. If you want to manage how your network views you, you have to make sure that they actually view you.
Why Should You Worry About the Perfect Headline?
An important step in this process is leading off with the right headline. Because whether it’s a newspaper, a blog article, or your LinkedIn profile, the headline performs a few important tasks.
First, it grabs attention. Newspapers have huge frontpage headlines because they want to snag the attention of people walking by the newstand. Because there are so many messages bombarding us on a daily basis, it’s critical to cut through the noise.
In the same way, your Profile Headline should reach out to hook your ideal audience. This is especially important because what appears in a LinkedIn Search result is your name, picture, and headline. You want the headline to grab the reader.
Secondly, you want to give the reader the opportunity to opt-in to you. Eye-tracking studies show that people spend more time on average reading the Headline than any other part of the Profile. They are processing the information and deciding whether it’s worth reading more. Since time is such a valuable commodity, they are vetting you based on the information you share in the Headline.
Finally the Headline creates a framework for the reader of your profile. They will know what to expect based on how you start the Profile. Just like a blog article that starts with “5 Ways to Improve Your Twitter Bio” leads to the expectation of exactly five ideas on your online social profile, so too should your Profile Headline let the reader know what they will find in the information that follows.
Great, But How Do I Build One?
How do you construct a Headline that does all of that? Focus on making it compelling and informational. By the way, I said newspaper headline, not a tabloid headline. So it’s not about shouting, but rather telling your reader who you help or how you help them.
The default setting of the headline is your current position and company, which is pulled from your Experience section. If you listed Project Manager at Company XYZ as your current position, that’s your default Headline. Realize that your job title may or may not be meaningful to your outside reader. As you go up the hierarchy, job titles have more resonance outside the organization; for example, everyone knows what a CEO does.
But what if you are a salesperson, account representative, director, or small business owner? How do you get the biggest bang for your buck (character-wise)? There are over 1.2 million “account managers” on LinkedIn right now, so the job title isn’t going to be enough.
The solution is to take a cue from the search engine optimization world and look at populating your profile with keywords. The keywords that you select, however, won’t be determined by a computer search algorithm, but rather by what your ideal audience will respond to. This is another place where knowing your audience is important. You want your headline to resonate with your target market.
An Easy Headline Template
A simple way to add these keywords is to look at two areas: who you help and what you help them with. In fact, a useful template for brainstorming the Headline (which can actually be used on your Profile) is:
“Helping (insert who you help) with (what you help them with)”
This allows your visitor to think “I’m looking at the right person” when they see your profile. It also stands out more in the search results. Instead of having a dry job title, they’ll see:
- Helping Fortune 500 Companies Solve Complex Personnel Issues
- Helping Medical Professionals Manage and Grow Wealth
- Helping Our Sales Team Deliver Amazing Customer Experiences
(You can easily use a different verb than “helping”. I’m simply using it as a starting point for our brainstorming. However, it’s effective because your Profile visitors are looking for help and we want to be as direct as possible.)
Crafted properly, your Headline will serve as a beacon to the audience that you want to talk to. It creates a positive first impression and draws them in to find out more about you.
See you online!