Updated October 2021
I spend my days thinking, writing, and speaking about the intersection of business and relationships in the digital age. I focus a lot of my attention on social selling, the convergence of old school sales processes with powerful online tools.
It’s fun being in the midst of this change and evolution. People are experimenting with lots of new ideas and methodologies. Some are successful; some…not so much. We’re all figuring it out together on the fly.
Not Everything is Pretty on LinkedIn
When you do this long enough, you see the good, the bad, and the downright ugly of social media. After seeing another “Cold Call Assassin” pop up on LinkedIn this morning, I had to say something about one of my pet peeves: awful LinkedIn Profile Headlines.
Here’s the thing: Your Profile Headline is super-important. It’s one of the most-viewed parts of your Profile, and it hooks (or drives away) your visitor. So don’t try to be cute or clever. Be clear instead.
Here’s my list of words you shouldn’t put in your LinkedIn Profile Headline. It’s completely un-researched and a little rant-y. It’s definitely not exhaustive. I’m sure that I could find one of my social selling colleagues who would totally disagree with some of my entries on this list. That’s totally OK, maybe they are right and I’m wrong. But I know that these bug me, and I think they are hurting your communicating.
What You Should Never Call Yourself on LinkedIn
1. Ninja – No. You’re not. Just no. Stop it.
2. Guru – Are you going to be my spiritual guide to website marketing or graphic design or whatever? Why not just call yourself the high priest, pope, or cult leader? You’re attempting to gain credibility by attaching yourself to a system of spirituality that you know nothing about. You look foolish. Would you call yourself a bishop or rabbi of digital marketing?
3. Account Executive – I just did a search and there were 1.3 million account executives on LinkedIn. Your readers have no idea what it means in your specific situation. Please, take 2 minutes to write something more descriptive. Almost anything else you write will be more informative.
4. Founder – This one’s tough, because if you are a founder, your life is wrapped up in your creation. But your reader doesn’t care about your story, they care about how you can help them. And founder really doesn’t tell them how you help. Unless you “founded” Uber or Twitter or another household name, leave it out.
5. Assassin – Really? You kill things for a living? I know that you are trying to make yourself sound like a badass, but I want someone who is going to help me with my business challenges, not try to impress me like a 13-year-old playing Xbox.
And it Just Keeps Going
6. Results-Oriented – LinkedIn puts out an annual Top 10 of the most overused words on Profiles. This is one is a regular on that list. It’s jargon and it means absolutely nothing. Here’s a general rule of thumb: if it looks like it belongs on a resume, don’t put it in your headline.
7. Connector – Being a LION on LinkedIn doesn’t make you a mover and shaker who is making deals happen. Whenever I see someone who is a “Connector”, I wonder who they are really connecting. Even worse: they are probably a salesperson masquerading as a connector.
8. Wizard – Hey, I read Harry Potter too, but I’ve come to grips with the fact that I’m not going to be visited by an owl anytime soon. Unless you are talking about your Friday night Dungeons & Dragons game with your friends, leave the spell-casting out of your profile.
9. Expert – I’m going out on a limb here because there are a lot of experts on LinkedIn, but here’s my take. If you have to tell me that you are an expert, you probably aren’t. You just think you are. Don’t tell me, show me on the rest of your profile that you have the chops. (By the way, if you’ve put your 10,000 hours in, then go ahead and claim your expertise. I did.)
There it is; non-researched, non-exhaustive, and completely rant-y. Please don’t be offended if your Headline includes one of these. Heck, maybe you really are a guru (I’m looking at you, Deepak).
But it’s critical that you learn to leverage these high-impact parts of your online presence. It’s the difference between drawing someone in or pushing them away. And if you want to make sure that you are creating a profile headline that does attract the attention you want, be sure to check out my guide on how to do just that.