If LinkedIn were a country, it would be the third-largest in the world. More than 690 million professionals use it to network, learn, and seek out new opportunities.
What’s more, its members have a ton of buying power. Compared to the average online audience, LinkedIn users have twice as much buying power, with four in five driving business decisions at their companies.
So as a salesperson, you definitely want to be using LinkedIn effectively. And that all starts with an eye-catching headline that compels prospects to strike up a conversation.
Let’s start with the basics.
A LinkedIn headline is the section at the top of the profile page where you describe yourself, your role, and your skills in up to 120 characters.
As you can see, it also shows up alongside your name in the LinkedIn search results:
That means a strong, eye-catching, engaging headline can really make the difference between a searcher clicking your profile or moving on. When writing your LinkedIn headline, your goal should be to entice users to find out more about you, your background, and your expertise.
At this point, you might be thinking: hold on, I’ve never changed my LinkedIn headline, it’s just there. So why should I bother now?
Well, sure, if you don’t customize your headline, LinkedIn won’t just leave it blank – instead, it’ll default to your company and job title. There’s nothing wrong with that, per se; lots of people do it.
But doing the same as everyone else won’t help you stand out.
So don’t take the easy option. Customize your headline and give people more of a reason to click your profile.
Now that we’ve covered the value of a custom LinkedIn headline, here’s how to do it:
As with anything in sales and marketing, you should start by thinking about the people you’re speaking to.
Who are you hoping to attract? What messaging would compel them to click?
As a super simple example, you can see that my LinkedIn headline includes the phrase: “We’re hiring!” Obviously, I’m predominantly speaking to candidates here, because we’re hiring and I want to find exceptional people. But it’s also an added trust factor for companies that might want to buy our product – they can see we’re hiring, which shows we’re a growing business.
There are other considerations here, too. Depending on your industry, there might be some specific terminology that would help you stand out – maybe a certification, or an award, or an accreditation.
Hopefully, you’ll already have developed some detailed buyer personas, so you should have a good idea who you’re writing for and what they want to see.
As an extension to my last point, you also want to write in a way that truly speaks to your audience.
Say your product is super techy, but your average buyer isn’t technical at all. Don’t drop in a bunch of tech jargon or complex terminology, because they likely won’t be familiar with it (or even if they are, they may not understand it).
On the other hand, you should definitely incorporate the sort of words your audience would use. Describe yourself and the value you add in terms that resonate with them.
With limited space to stand out, you should focus on the stuff that really sets you and your company apart from the crowd.
For instance, let’s say you’re a delivery company. Your USP is all about value – you pledge to deliver the same service as your rivals, but for a smaller fee.
That’s the sort of thing that makes for a compelling LinkedIn headline, especially if you can put some numbers to it. Don’t just say you’re cheaper; say you’ll undercut the competition by 5%.
Sure, you want to express your value proposition and differentiators with confidence. But you definitely don’t want to come across as arrogant – no one likes a know-it-all!
Don’t say anything you can’t support with clear evidence. And if you can’t back something up, it definitely shouldn’t be one of your USPs.
LinkedIn has published a list of the most common buzzwords used in people’s profiles. Here’s the top ten:
You should generally avoid these words – not only do they sound arrogant, they’re also pretty meaningless (especially if everyone else is using them too).
What are the things you do that add genuine value for your customers? The traits and behaviors you display that make the biggest difference?
Again, these characteristics can really set you apart from the competition – provided they have meaning.
Consider leaning on your LinkedIn recommendations for inspiration here. For instance, let’s look at a couple of mine:
A few things stand out there, like:
Those could all be factors to emphasize in my LinkedIn headline. And best of all, I’m not being arrogant, because they’re not even my words!
Above all, don’t over-complicate your headline.
You’ve only got 120 characters to play with, so you should concentrate on communicating one simple idea. Try to cram in too many angles and you risk confusing everyone.
A handy tip here is to speak your headline out loud. Does it make sense? Would the average person in your audience derive real meaning from it?
If not, it’s a bad headline.
I’ve already given you a few words to avoid in your LinkedIn headline.
As a more general pointer, bear in mind that whoever your audience is, they’re on LinkedIn, which is ultimately a platform for business networking.
Standard business writing best practices apply here, just like if you were writing for cold email outreach. That means you should typically keep away from:
I’ve given you a bunch of theory-based advice. Now, let’s get more practical.
Here are a couple templates you can use to structure your headline. Don’t feel you have to stick to them religiously – you don’t want to restrict yourself unnecessarily. But they can provide helpful inspiration for crafting a compelling message that fits the tight character count.
In this template:
Here’s how it could look:
In this template:
Here’s how it could look:
Hopefully, by this point you’ve got all the tools you need to craft a compelling LinkedIn headline that steers a bunch of traffic toward your profile page and strikes up some meaningful conversations with prospects.
Need a little extra inspiration? Here are some more examples of effective LinkedIn headlines, along with a few pointers about what makes them good:
This example communicates a ton of information in just 82 characters. It tells us:
There’s a whole lot of value and expertise being communicated here. From reading this LinkedIn headline, we know that the user:
Best of all, none of this stuff comes across as hyperbole, because it can all be supported by evidence, such as the specific awards they’ve won and the events at which they’ve spoken.
This one’s a little longer (although it still clocks in under the character count at 115 characters), which means it’s also more specific. We’ve got:
Crucially, because it focuses on communicating one message, it’s not too wordy or complex. That makes it really compelling.