3 Deadly LinkedIn Profile Mistakes to Avoid

3 Deadly LinkedIn Mistakes to Avoid

The sad truth is you are probably committing 3 deadly mistakes that turn you into a leper on LinkedIn.

If it makes you feel any better, you aren’t alone—thousands of people are making these 3 LinkedIn profile mistakes, turning their social media efforts into a giant waste of time.

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

Fix these 3 mistakes and you will immediately elbow your way past the hoards of competition and make a much better first impression on LinkedIn.

Mistake #1: Your Profile Is All About What “You” DO

Most people use their LinkedIn profiles as an opportunity to drone on and on about themselves and their profession—what they DO…

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

The LinkedIn-o-sphere doesn’t care about you or what you do. People are busy thinking about THEIR OWN selfish wants and needs. Until you show them why you are useful, they will not be interested in you.

Additionally, you actually need to spell it out for your readers, because they will not 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 specifically tunes in to your target reader’s frequency.  Who exactly do you want to attract? What exactly do they want?

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

3 deadly LinkedIn Mistakes

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

LinkedIn Deadly mistakes

 Granted, this guy sounds a little like Saul Goodman from Breaking Bad, so if this was a real example, I might say “Truckloads Of Cash” differently… However, if I heard this branding message, it was 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 target reader, announced that you are looking for them, and then clearly communicated how you can help.

Mistake #2: You Haven’t Grabbed Attention.

Think about your reader’s headspace when then stumble onto your page: They’ve got 72 other distractions tugging on their limited attention span. If you don’t say something RIGHT AWAY that jolts them into the present moment like an unexpected splash of ice-cold water on their backs, they will be one Facebook meme away from tossing your profile into the trash.

In other words, you need a jaw-dropping headline in your LinkedIn profile summary, and it needs to be the very first thing that a reader sees once they check out your profile. Magazines have known this secret for ages. The headlines on the front cover of Cosmo for example, are exponentially more expensive than the actual articles inside the magazine. Cosmo knows that they’ve got to grab your attention before you will actually buy the magazine and read it.

Most people don’t bother with this step, so there’s nothing for an eyeball to grab onto. Do you see how this typical LinkedIn profile summary looks a looks a lot like static on a TV set?

3 Deadly LinkedIn Profile Mistakes Now look at this example. It catches attention visually, and it also jolts the reader into attention with one shocker of a headline:

3 Deadly LinkedIn Profile Mistakes

Here’s a quick primer on writing a good headline: You can:

A: Make a bold promise to improve your reader’s life

You will be able to back up later with credible proof. E.g.








B: Remind them about a pain point

Let them know about the pain they are experiencing but have maybe forgotten about. E.g.








Mistake #3: You Haven’t Painted A Mental Picture

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

In the professional world, people are obsessed with using abstract buzzwords that don’t mean anything, but in reality, people resonate with words that paint a crisp, clear mental picture of how their lives will become better.

So most LinkedIn profiles sound something like this:

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

But pay attention to the visual language here:

3 Deadly LinkedIn Mistakes

The most powerful image comes in fourth paragraph:

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

Can you see how that titillates the senses?

Change these three sections on your LinkedIn profile, and you will see a dramatic difference in the way people respond to your LinkedIn profile. You should expect more views, more connections, and more people who are eager to work with you.

Guest Author: Anton Volney is a direct response copywriter and a LinkedIn profile writing expert. If you’d like to learn how to make a jaw-dropping first impression on LinkedIn, he has created a free mini eBook called, “Look Good On LinkedIn” it will get you up to speed on how to craft a KILLER LinkedIn profile. You can get it at www.LinkedInprofilesummary.com.


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  • Michael McDonald

    Great simple tips for LI. That’s a tough platform for many people to learn and stand out. Going to use these tips and see what happens. Thanks Jeff.

  • Jason King

    That’s my LinkedIn profile changed – excellent tip thanks :)

  • Beckyharmon

    Anton…Ah, I am hopping over to Linked In right now to check my profile. Thought I was doing okay till I read this. You are a great wake up call for identity work!

  • venkyiyer58

    It took me more than half an hour to read this post. That is because as soon as I read point 1, I logged into my LinkedIn account and redid my profile; came back and read point 2 and went back to redo some more; came back and read point 3 and went back to redo yet some more. I still feel incomplete, so I copied and pasted this post to my desktop. I have some more redoing to do.

  • Holly McIlwain

    Great Post. At some point in our lives we are all faced with the need to understand basic sales skills to help us present ourselves. I see these mistakes in every form of media and resumes. Seems simple, but if we reexamine all the ways we represent ourselves, we may see some of these areas to improve. Thank you.

  • http://jeffbullas.com Jeff Bullas

    Yes doing the leaves is boring :)

  • http://sproutsocial.com/features/social-media-engagement Sarah @ Sprout Social

    Really valuable advice, Anton. I must admit, my LinkedIn profile is currently committing these mistakes, and I typically only work on my profile when I’m job searching. But I do plan on updating, as I’ve seen even something as simple as a headline bring in a lot of business. Thanks for the direction and examples!

  • Carol Tice

    Great post — but rewriting your LI tagline to focus on a client statement means you lose the SEO of putting the key words for your industry there.

    As someone who has been found and hired by several Fortune 500 companies through those, I’m not changing that. I think your summary is a great place for that sort of statement, though.

  • Rick Allen

    Guess I have work to do…

  • c t u

    Thanks Jeff for the article. I have updated my summary page.

  • http://www.ElevatingYourBusiness.com/ Maria Marsala

    Yes, it ‘s about how you can help others. But first, who are those others? Depending on who your ideal clients are, this type of profile will work … or not.
    I do agree with Carol about being careful about our title. The title has a lot to do with being found on LinkedIn. So if you want to put the results of people working with you, include your title, in your title.

    But you are a very good copywriter!

  • Brian Jacobsen

    Or you could just use a site that allows for a lot more personal differentiation.
    That’s why we created Talentral. Personal Branding and Professional Portfolio Management Platform. Its free. Start Managing your Career today at http://www.talentral.com

  • http://www.inmediaconcepts.co.nz/ William John

    Awesome is the word i can say, a very well put article on mistakes. This strategy should be used in Facebook too, will try this for sure.

  • Nando

    When you change your tagline as you did in the mistake #1 you lose valuable words like “accountant” and “consultant”. I’m curious if that could significantly/dangerously hurt the appearance of that person in the Linkedin results. Because the first goal should to simply appear, to be noticed. Once that’s done, then one can think of grabbing the attention in a more powerful way.