- Think of your LinkedIn headline as if it were a billboard. Your readers are clicking through you at 70 mph.
My next challenge is to re-write my LinkedIn headline down to seven words, the typical maximum on outdoor advertising.
I got a headline re-writing clinic the other day from Lori Ruff. Before that, here’s what my headline looked like on my LinkedIn profile:
- Award-winning freelance business writer focused on law firm marketing and business development content
Not bad. In fact, pretty good. It’s short, a big plus for the typical on-line reader, who reads 25% slower on the screen compared to reading in print.
My old headline is also descriptive, telling you what I do and in which commercial space. It also says that I’m freelance, implying that I’m available.
Award-winning is a credentialing word that sets me apart from my competition. Notice that I put it up front, where it’s likeliest to get noticed. Behavioral psychologists will tell you this.
They’ll also tell you that the next most important spot in a sequence is the last. If you don’t read anything except for the first and last words in this headline, you’ll associate me with award-winning content. Capice?
Here’s where Lori and I ended up for my new, even better LinkedIn profile headline:
- Brilliant (I’m told) writer-editor-strategist | Delivering award-winning legal marketing and Web content
Whether you love it or hate it, the word brilliant will probably get you to stop. I took some of the edge off with the parenthetical I’m told, a couple of words that also further humanize my headline and foster a connection with my reader by speaking directly to them in the first person and letting them get to know me (and what I might be like to work with) through some self-directed humor. (By the way, clients have called me and my work brilliant. So, it’s defensible.)
Lori gets all of the credit for the word delivering. It’s a great action word, short and sweet, that sells well with business readers. It implies accountability, offering that I will do what I say I’ll do. In the process, she killed the much weaker–sounding focused on.
Another even-better from Lori was the use of the Vertical Bar (|) punctuation. It’s a wonderful device – sometimes known as the Think Colon – that’s somewhere between a comma and a period. It tells the reader to stop/pause and adds an uncommon architectural quality to the headline that differentiates it…and you.
She also tweaked law firm marketing and business development content. Because she had taken the time to learn about me and what I do, she knew that in addition to law firms, I work with coaches, trainers, PR and ad agencies and other vendors who serve the industry. Delivering award-winning legal marketing and Web content expands my market by unhitching me from one, single niche.
Lori and I disagreed about one point. Because she’s always looking for ways to help her clients and colleagues, Lori suggested that I align my Twitter handle and the name I use on my LinkedIn profile, Facebook page, Web site and elsewhere. While I agree with the importance of continuity to my brand, this particular dog ain’t gonna hunt.
If I had been more deliberate and strategic 10 years ago, when I was making choices about naming this and that, it might not me an issue today. I wasn’t, however, so I work instead on letting go and learning from the impact of my choice making.
Now, the So-What
Let’s assume that your LinkedIn page is important to you. You want people to stop, read and maybe even act on your profile. Right?
Then there are a couple of things for you to remember. First, STOP, READ and ACT are, generally speaking, sequential. If I land on your page and you don’t immediately give me a reason to stop, then I’ve just ruthlessly clicked you into the trash. No matter how awesome the rest of your page is.
So, how do you get me and others to stop and get engaged in your profile?
The answer to that one is part visual, part verbal. Which brings us to the second thing to remember; namely, that we’re busy, instinctual, self-absorbed beings.
To at least some extent, we’re all hardwired to first scan for anything that potentially helps or hurts us. We’re on the look out for anything that might trigger us to fight or flight. Or, that might attract and feed us.
So, our eyes first land on the most arresting graphic or image on the page we’re visiting. The photo on your LinkedIn profile page is a topic for another day. For now, let me just say that it had better be very high quality and, especially, interestingly composed.
The second space to which our eyes go is the block of words that caption the primary image. In the case of the LinkedIn page, these words are known as your headline.
Now you know.