One tiny tweak can make a big difference.
Whenever I deliver my workshop on LinkedIn, I always encounter pushback on the same point: How to write your headline on the social network.
What’s a LinkedIn headline? It’s the line directly under your name — on your individual profile page, in the sidebar of people similar to you, and in search results. After your name and headshot, it’s the thing that people view most.
Yet most people fail to exploit this opportunity. Instead, they fall back on LinkedIn’s default settings, which copy and paste your job title and employer into this critical field.
If you’re reading this, you no doubt have a LinkedIn profile. What you may not have is a full understanding of LinkedIn’s hidden powers — how it can transform your online presence from an afterthought into a model of thought leadership.
Here’s a quick example. LinkedIn offers two fields for your title: One is your career title (how you describe yourself at parties); the other is your job title (what your business card says).
To illustrate: Have you ever heard of the guy known as the “Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs”? Here’s a hint: You know him by his job (rather than career) title: He’s the “National Security Advisor.”
Sadly, when it comes to social media, most people conflate these two appellations. As a result, they miss an invaluable opportunity to optimize their brand in search results — not only on LinkedIn, but also in Google.
News outlets should be mortified by the way they describe themselves on Twitter.
Every high schooler knows that you can’t choose your nickname. Happily, social media offers a remedy for people of all ages: the chance to write your own bio.
This ability to self-brand is priceless. Yet many fumble it. In fact, major media outlets approach their Twitter bios as if they were students cramming to finish their homework on the bus, rather than world-class wordsmiths. At a time when publishers are increasingly interested in driving social traffic to their sites, such box-checking results in a lost opportunity.
Does this description hit close to home? Does your Twitter bio read like a homework assignment dashed off en route to class? Fear not: here are 11 ways to burnish your brand.
Let others sing your praises.
After college, I did what most liberal arts grads do when they come to Washington: I interned at a think tank. As I subsequently embarked on my career, I shied away from the word “intern,” a moniker that I felt would betray my lack of experience. Instead, my bio and LinkedIn profile said I “did media relations” for the Cato Institute.
This was true: I edited op-eds from Cato’s scholars and pitched them to the media; I just didn’t volunteer my job title. I’d argue that this sin of omission is the benign kind of biographical betterment.
Digital branding starts in your inbox.
It’s something you take for granted, something seemingly trivial, even mundane. When executed thoughtfully, however, it makes a splash. It says, “This guy is sharp — I want to work with him!”
What is this opportunity, obvious but overlooked? It’s the bookends of your emails: your address and signature block — often, the first and last thing your recipients will see. For better or worse, your email bookends are powerful purveyors of your brand. What are yours conveying about you?
Consider just the address. As the Oatmeal has observed, the domain you choose is like a Rorschach test, betraying your sophistication, or lack thereof. A few examples:
For the past year, I’ve had the pleasure of delivering presentations on career development to the Institute for Humane Studies. Here’s my latest, which offers six best practices to establish and protect your brand online:
One of the most overlooked opportunities for online marketing also happens to be one of the most ubiquitous: the email “signature.”
One of the first things new employees do is create a “signature block” for their emails. These half-dozen lines or so, consisting of your contact info, plop themselves at the bottom of every email we send. Yet few people put any thought into their e-signature, let alone alter it after it’s set up.
This modus operandi reflects a 1.0 mindset. Let’s upgrade it.
Would you hire this self-described Internet strategist? He rarely blogs, doesn’t much tweet, and uses YouTube for quick and dirty videos filmed with a Flip camera.
No? Would your mind change if you knew he were a veteran of Microsoft and Yahoo, whom the Washington Post described as “one of the elder statesmen in the … class of online political operatives”? What if NationalJournal.com credited him with expanding the Republican National Committee’s e-mail list from 1.8 million to 12 million, and “dramatically improving the party’s social media outreach”? His name: Cyrus Krohn.