H is for Headline: A to Z of LinkedIn

A to Z of LinkedIn: HeadlineThe headline is an important part of your profile on LinkedIn, it plays a greater role than simply an introduction on your profile page … though it does that well too! It is in reality a key element of the whole introduction process, a text bill board to complement the graphic banner and a way to engage with others.

To clarify what I’m talking about – if you look at your Profile Page, the Headline is the piece of text that sits under your photo on the left hand side and which probably contains your Job Title and Company name if you haven’t changed it. It is also probably the first piece of text on your profile that people see when they visit it.

As it happens, you have 120 characters at your disposal to play with here … or 220 characters if you have an i-phone and wish to make use of the feature (did someone say ‘Glitch’?) that you can access by editing it there. You essentially have free rein to use it as you see fit – it doesn’t effect the job title you display in the “Work Experience” section but does allow you to use this area in a different way.

To do so click on the ‘edit’ icon in the top right hand of your Profile page as shown below:

Not just on your Profile

There are a number of other places where your headline appears, many of which are places where we are making a first impression with people who might not otherwise know us. Some of the key ones are as follows:

  • When you invite someone to connect: your headline piece of text which also appears along with your name in the Invitations area (currently c. 80 characters although used to be the entire Headline);
  • When you look at someone’s profile: on their “Who viewed your profile” page a shortened version of your Headline appears (c. 60 characters) with your name and photo, presuming that you have left your visibility on “Full Profile”;v
  • In the “People also viewed” area: this appears on the right hand side of people’s Profile Page and here again your headline with your name and photo appears, and this time it is the whole of the Headline that gets displayed;
  • In the search results: the text that appears is your Headline rather than your job title when you get listed in the search list, although again you now only get c. 82 characters. Sometimes, the top result gets a fuller appearance in the right hand sidebar as well and then the full Headline appears in all its glory.
  • When you comment: commenting is a powerful way to get people to your profile on a more regular basis and again your Headline plays a part as this also makes an appearance here with photo and name in tow, again c. 75 characters.

So many places where we have the opportunity to get our message across at first glance!

It is also worth noting when these different areas appear on a mobile device, the number of characters which appear will be fewer than on the PC.

Therefore, you’ll probably want to consider this aspect as well when we construct our headline in terms of what we put in there and also as we decide in what order the information should appear.

What should your headline contain?

Now we get to the nitty-gritty. Firstly, It is worth noting that LinkedIn provides everyone with a default headline which contains your job title and the name of the company where you work. in many cases however, this is not going to provide you with as good an introduction as you might wish in some of the places mentioned above.

What might be more appropriate is something more akin to a 3 second Elevator Pitch, something that gets your key message across eloquently and succinctly?

If not, then there are in fact a whole rane of options and so instead, you might like to consider one of the following possibilities:

  • Retain your Job Title and Company still (some people like to show that and the branding opportunity) but but in addition, add a tagline relating to your organisation, helping give context to what you do and help push the company. If you are in a director role then it may be very beneficial to retain your job title, let’s face it, people may be more inclined to speak to you (Fickle as we are!)
  • Consider the WIIFM formula (What’s in it for Me?) and try to describe why the person reading your profile should get in touch and what value or benefits that might bring to their world. Ultimately, it’s all about you try to show why they should spen their valuable time reading more of your profile!;
  • Use this area to highlight certain keywords that you would like to be found for, this might be particularly useful if you are a Jobseeker as LinkedIn more weight results words in this area and so it may help you to be found general keyword searches. However, remember that there is no search field which looks only at the headline so these are small helps not massive step changes;
  • Make something quirky or perhaps memorable in a different way make it funny perhaps or include an encouragement to go to a file that you have added to your ‘About’ section as part of the ‘Give and ye shall receive’ ethos.
  • If you are a Jobseeker perhaps, then you could use it as a key indicator and almost tagline to state what you offer or what you are looking for. With so much information and so many profiles out there, clarity is often a good policy.
Mark White, LinkedIn trainer

Mark White, LinkedIn trainer

My passion is helping companies and individuals to use and APPLY LinkedIn more effectively - that is to use it to develop new business, find a new role, to market yourself, your company and products ... whatever your reason for using LinkedIn is! I run internal workshops for companies looking to bring their key people or teams up to speed and run public courses around the UK.
Mark White, LinkedIn trainer
Mark White, LinkedIn trainer
Mark White, LinkedIn trainer

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Mark White, LinkedIn trainer
Upcoming courses are: LinkedIn for Business Success London (17th October) Birmingham (9th October) Manchester (28th October) Bristol (22nd October) Northampton (31st October)

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