Write a Killer LinkedIn Headline

By: Doug Brown

Do you ever get asked “So, what do you do?”

linkedin leadsMost of us are asked that question several times a week in a variety of settings.  Sometimes that question is just a conversation-starter, but sometimes the asker really wants to know what you are all about.  At any rate, you should give some thought to your answer, and have it on the tip of your tongue at all times.  Better yet, you should use that headline as a mantra, and as a way to define your personal brand in all of your written communications, and profiles.

If you have a good explanation of what you do people will remember it and, most importantly, they will remember you when it comes time to do business.

A great professional headline will convey knowledge of the products and services you offer.  It will be understood quickly and completely, and it will be spread by word-of-mouth. All of which means referrals and introductions will start to take place more easily and more often.

Write a Great Professional LinkedIn Headline

You will be using your great professional headline in multiple places to unify your personal branding message.   But first, let’s go through what it takes to make and use a great professional headline on LinkedIn.

Your LinkedIn professional headline is the text below your name:

LinkedIn Headline Help

The best professional headlines do several things to help raise your profile as an expert in your field. Your headline should:

  • Make it clear what you do
  • Explain the benefits that your products/services deliver
  • Highlight the types of person that will benefit from these products/services
  • Use targeted keywords, which will improve your search rankings both on LinkedIn, and across the web.

Let’s examine these attributes one at a time:

1. The nature of your expertise

Making it clear what you do is usually not the same as just giving your job title. For example, ‘vice president’ doesn’t really clarify your field of expertise.

Look at the headline in Mitchell’s profile below:

GREAT HEADLINE: Mitchell explains the nature of his expertise.

Mitchell’s headline does a great job of letting you know what he does.  Instead of calling himself the “President of AHA Leader, Ltd” which he is, he uses this precious space to let you know that he will help you “build your brand….”.

Contrast Mitchell’s profile with what most profiles look like:

BAD HEADLINE: We have no idea what Jacob can do for us.

While Jacob obviously spent considerable time (and money) on a professional image for this profile, I challenge you to guess what Jacob does, much less what you can get out of connecting with him… which leads us to the next important must-include for your professional headline:

2. How you help other people

The brutal truth is that people seldom set out to connect with a lawyer, accountant or financial services adviser. They certainly don’t often reach out to connect with someone that they think is going to try to sell them something.  Your ideal customers, however, will love to connect with you when they feel the need for the benefits that you can bring them.

The 2nd key to a great professional headline, then, is to focus on the benefits you deliver and how those benefits can make an impact.

While we instinctively understand this concept when we look at others’ profiles, ads, and offerings, it’s amazing how many of us can’t — or won’t –apply this principle to ourselves.

Most people focus their LinkedIn headlines — and summaries — carrying on about their qualifications and experience (“features”).  Such features don’t convey to your potential customers the benefits they will get by connecting and hopefully using your goods or services. “What’s in it for me” as the old saying goes, is what your potential connections will often ask themselves before engaging with you.

One of my contacts is an expert in creating systems for companies with very specific needs in organizing, managing and accessing their data.

She’s done a great job by focusing her LinkedIn headline on the efficiency and ease of use her custom databases deliver.

Great LinkedIn headline

PERFECT HEADLINE: Sue explains exactly what she does, for whom and the benefits


Contrast this with someone like the Leyre.

Bad LinkedIn headline

BAD HEADLINE: Too general. Does not distinguish Leyre from other accountants

We don’t have any idea what kind of specific qualifications she has, or what services (“features”) Leyre offers, much less the benefits that you might get from connecting with her.  All we know is that she is an accountant, presumably just like the other millions of accountants out there.

3. Who you help 

Explaining the specific types of people you help in your LinkedIn headline is important to help you stand out as the expert in your field.  This will help people qualify themselves before they accept your invitation to connect. By pre-qualifying your connections, you can keep your connection pool specific to your “perfect customers”.

Take a look at Jeff’s profile:

Great LinkedIn headline

GREAT HEADLINE: Jeff lets us know exactly who is customers are.

Jeff has done a great job of letting us know who he helps (his target audience is “law firms”) and what he can do for them (“Private Cloud network Solutions”).

4. Keywords

Your LinkedIn profile, and in particular your professional LinkedIn headline, is highly rated by search engines.  Take another look at Jeff’s profile above.  Jeff provides “Private Cloud Network Solutions”.

This is how Google indexes Jeff’s LinkedIn page:

Great LinkedIn headlines indexed by Google

Getting relevant keywords into your professional headline is a great way to rank in both LinkedIn and on Google searches.

Use Your Professional LinkedIn Headline for All Your Marketing

Now that you’ve got a great statement of your value using your LinkedIn headline in your profile, why not use it across all your marketing material.

It’s a great way to increase awareness of exactly what you do so people can remember quickly and easily the benefits you deliver and to what kinds of people.

Key places to feature your professional headline include:

  • Business cards
  • Email footers
  • Your Website
  • Other Social Media platforms
  • Brochures and ads
  • Heck, maybe even put it on a bumper sticker on your car 🙂

By consistently repeating your professional headline across all your marketing materials, you’ll quickly spread awareness of the great benefits you offer. This will also help you will also help you target the ideal customers who will benefit most from their connection with you.

Next, Convert your Profile from a Resume to a Resource

Once your headline is representative of your brand and message, it time to take on the remainder of your LinkedIn profile and make sure it supports your headline.  Start by reviewing this Infographic.



3 thoughts on “Write a Killer LinkedIn Headline

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