In sales and marketing, if you confuse them, you lose them.
Since your entire foundation on LinkedIn starts with your profile and your professional headline, you need to make sure it's three things: Functional, functional, functional.
What I mean by this is, prospects you encounter on LinkedIn must be able to immediately understand what type of products or services you offer, and the key audiences you serve, upon a quick glance of your profile.
Your professional headline communicates this when you stay practical and simple with how you describe yourself. Along with your photo, it's the instant calling card people use to size up who you are and what - if any - interest they should have in your profile, profession and content.
The big mistake you're making on LinkedIn
The biggest mistake people make is creating what I call an "aspirational" headline. For example, instead of using a headline like "business coach", you'll see something like, "helping clients realize their dreams."
That's aspirational, fluffy and exciting - but it's not going be clear cut enough for people to really understand you on LinkedIn.
Hundreds of millions of professionals worldwide are using LinkedIn's powerful internal search engine, and one of the key things we know about prospects when they're searching online is that if you make things difficult to understand, they'll move on to something else.
On LinkedIn, that means if it's not clear who you are and what you do, you'll be skipped over for someone who does.
Your LinkedIn profile also shouldn't be about you - instead it should be focused on what you can do for your ideal audience and what makes you different or better when compared to your competitors.
So forget the cute prose and instead focus on simplicity. Be functional.
Steal this Approach
But that doesn't mean you should simple list your job title or role in your LinkedIn professional headline. Instead, I want you to tell me - as a potential client - what you can do to help me achieve my goals.
Here are a couple examples of great profiles to demonstrate the "Functional vs. Aspirational" dynamic I'm talking about.
Consider the profile headline of John Beresford Marshall: "Equity Investing | Equity Investments | Growth Stocks | Business Development."
Here's how it looks on his LinkedIn profile page:
It's very clear cut what John does: Equity investing, equity investments, growth stocks and business development. If you're looking to do equity investing or invest in growth stocks, John is someone who can help you, right?
John's not trying to be everything to everybody, he's making it very clear, within a few seconds, what he does and what he's an expert in.
Another example comes courtesy of Lisa Anderson: "Strategic Business Advisor | Virtual CFO | Virtual CEO for Government Contractors, Accountants & Consulting Firms."
Here's how it looks on her LinkedIn profile page:
Again, Lisa's headline makes it clear what she does (Strategic Business Advisor, Virtual CFO, Virtual CEO) and who her target audiences are (Government Contractors, Accountants and Consulting Firms.)
As an added credibility play, she lists her name on LinkedIn as, "Lisa Anderson, CPA" to demonstrate her financial services credentials.
Nowhere in Lisa's LinkedIn professional headline is the name of her company, her role as CEO, or anything like that.
See the power and clarity of this approach?
Lisa is totally focused on quickly telling us who she serves, and what services she provides to those audiences.
The Riches are in the Niches
The number one mistake you can make on LinkedIn, and especially with your professional headline, is trying to be everything to everybody.
If you're too generic, if you're not clear, you'll be nothing to nobody.
As much as possible, you need to really hone in on your target audience with your profile headline, and then build outward from there throughout the rest of your profile.
Make it very clear, right away, in your headline what you do, using, functional, practical words.
Once you begin to utilize this type of functional, client-facing approach on LinkedIn, it becomes far easier to get potential clients interesting in doing business with you.