3 deadly LinkedIn profile mistakes to avoid

If you’re wondering why hardly anyone checks out your profile, it could be because you’re making these mistakes.

The sad truth: You are probably committing three deadly mistakes that are turning you into a leper on LinkedIn.

If it makes you feel any better, you aren’t alone. Thousands of people make these three LinkedIn profile mistakes, turning their profiles into a giant waste of time.

I won’t tell you that you need a professional profile picture or recommendations. Those are a given. This article will explore the science of personal branding—why most people blend into the background and are instantly forgotten.

Mistake No. 1: Your profile is all about what you do.

Most people use their LinkedIn profiles to drone on and on about themselves and their professions.

As strange as it sounds, this is a huge mistake.

The LinkedIn world doesn’t care about you or what you do. People are busy thinking about their wants and needs. Until you show them why you are useful, they won’t be interested in you.

You need to spell it out for your readers. They won’t flex a single brain cell to make a connection between what you do and why you are helpful.

If your goal is to connect with other people on LinkedIn, your profile should be a beacon that tunes in to your target reader’s frequency. Who do you want to attract? What do they want?

Here is an example of how most people get it wrong:

An accountant might have a tagline that says something like the example above, but look what happens when you shift the conversation from what you do to how you help:

Granted, this guy sounds a little like Saul Goodman from “Breaking Bad.” If this was a real example I might say “truckloads of cash” differently. However, if I heard this branding message during tax season and I was a small business owner, it would send shockwaves to my eardrums.

Could you feel the visceral difference? This second example is more powerful because you have identified a specific reader, announced you are looking for him, and clearly communicated how you can help.

Mistake No. 2: You haven’t grabbed attention.

Think about your reader’s headspace when she stumbles onto your page: She has 72 other distractions. If you don’t say something that jolts her, she will be one Facebook meme away from tossing your profile into the trash.

You need a jaw-dropping headline in your LinkedIn profile summary, and it needs to be the first thing a reader sees when she checks out your profile.

Magazines have known this secret for ages. The headlines on the front cover of “Cosmo,” for example, are much more expensive than the articles in the magazine. “Cosmo” knows it has to grab your attention before you buy the magazine and read it.

Most people don’t bother with this step. Do you see how this typical LinkedIn profile summary reads a lot like static on a TV set sounds?

Now look at this example. It jolts the reader to attention with one shocker of a headline:

Mistake No. 3: You haven’t painted a mental picture.

Most LinkedIn profiles are forgettable because people don’t paint a picture of how they make the world a better place.

In the professional world, people are obsessed with abstract buzzwords that don’t mean anything. People respond to words that paint a crisp, clear picture of how their lives will become better.

Most LinkedIn profiles sound something like this:

“I have 10 years of experience in such and such. I’m goal-oriented. I’m a hard worker. Specialties: blah, blah, blah…”

Pay attention to the visual language here:

The most powerful image comes in fourth paragraph:

“I’m here to turn your website into the goose that lays golden eggs …”

Can you see how that titillates the senses?

Correct these three mistakes on your LinkedIn profile, and you will see a dramatic difference in the way people respond to it: more views, more connections and more people who are eager to work with you.

Anton Volney is a direct-response copywriter and LinkedIn profile writing expert. A version of this article originally appeared on JeffBullas.com.

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