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April 17, 2017

Want Your LinkedIn Profile to Stand Out in 2017? Don't Include These 10 Overused Words

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Now that social selling is a legitimate way of growing your pipeline, it’s crucial your LinkedIn profile makes a good impression.

The first major mistake salespeople make is targeting the wrong audience. But if your profile is tailored toward prospects, rather than recruiters, there’s another big pothole you need to avoid.

It’s easy to fall back on well-used terms like “experienced,” “strategic,” and “excellent.” However, these words will make buyers’ eyes glaze over. They’re so worn out they’re essentially meaningless.

LinkedIn recently released the top 10 buzzwords you should avoid in 2017. Here’s the list, along with our suggestions for more convincing swaps.

1) Specialized

What it means: To concentrate in a specific area.

Unless you’re a Jack (or Jill) of all trades, you specialize in something. Announcing that fact to the world doesn’t make you seem more qualified: You’re stating the obvious.

The fix: Describe what you specialize in. That’s what you -- and your profile visitors -- care about, anyway.

For example, if you’ve worked in B2B SaaS sales for most of your career, you might write, “I’m a senior Account Executive with seven years of experience in B2B SaaS.”

2) Leadership

What it means: To officially or unofficially guide a group of people.

Whether you’re a front-line sales rep or a manager, you probably exhibit leadership in some way. Salespeople can motivate other reps to hit or beat their targets, as well as share best practices and useful techniques. Managers are clearly leaders: They’re responsible for helping their team meet quota month after month (or quarter after quarter).

The fix: Highlight the specific impact you’ve had on your peers or reports. The more quantified, the better.

To give you an idea, you could say, “I organized a weekly session with the other SDRs on my team to discuss our highest-performing email templates.”

3) Passionate

What it means: You’re excited about your work. Money isn’t the sole (or even the main) reason you do what you do.

This adjective is overused and doesn’t say anything special about you. In addition, salary is a big incentive for many salespeople -- and there’s nothing wrong with that.

The fix: Talk about why you’re passionate and/or what you appreciate. Maybe you love selling healthcare equipment to hospitals because you know how many lives that equipment saves, or you’re enthusiastic about providing restaurants with inventory management software because your mom owns her own restaurant.

4) Strategic

What it means: You make intelligent, carefully plotted decisions.

“Strategic” is a buzzword. Ideally, every step you do or do not take at work would have reasoning behind it.

The fix: Share your decision making process. Writing about how your customers achieved a 20% growth in revenue after you analyzed their customer retention framework and found a major opportunity is five times more compelling than calling yourself strategic.

5) Experienced

What it means: You’re well-versed in a particular industry, market, product category, or role.

Like “specialized,” labeling yourself as “experienced” doesn’t do much to make you sound impressive. Experience is a function of your maturity in the job and exposure to different circumstances -- meaning it should be apparent from your work history.

The fix: Pinpoint what makes you experienced. Have you worked in real estate for the past 10 years? Do you know the ins and outs of startup sales after having been on the ground floor at your past two companies? Are you adept at navigating complex buying processes due to your time selling enterprise-wide technology solutions?

Once you’ve identified your areas of experience, describe them in your summary.

6) Focused

What it means: You zero in on your goals and pursue them relentlessly, ignoring less important projects until you’re done.

This tired adjective will prompt major eye-rolls. If you want to stand out, cut it from your profile.

The fix: Prioritization is an important skill. Although “focused” isn’t the best word to show you can prioritize, you shouldn’t exclude the concept from your profile.

Instead of calling yourself focused, come up with a time you met (or exceeded) an ambitious goal. For instance, perhaps you brought on five top-performing salespeople in one month by spending one-third of your time on hiring and recruiting.

You need to put aggressive goals at the top of your to-do list to be successful, so details like these will prove you’re focused.

7) Expert

What it means: You outperform your peers at a specific ability, topic, or niche.

Since many people claim to be experts when they’re not, saying you’re an expert usually backfires. Prospects will automatically be more skeptical when they read this.

The fix: Delete “expert” wherever it appears as an adjective. Your sentences will normally read just as well without it -- if you’d previously written you were an “expert salesperson,” now it would say “salesperson.”

If you’ve used “expert” as a noun (e.g., “home security expert”), write about your typical results instead. To give you an idea, you might say, “My clients typically see a 60% reduction in crime.”

8) Certified

What it means: You’ve obtained a certificate for a class, course, or skill.

This buzzword isn’t glaringly bad. As long as you’ve actually gotten a certificate (meaning you’re not using “certified” as a synonym for “expert”), you can get away with using it.

The fix: However, if you want to mix it up, you can say “licensed” or “verified,” or highlight the significance of the certificate. Perhaps you’d write, “After earning the Inbound Sales certificate, my close rate increased by 10%.”

Also, make sure you’ve added your credentials to the Certifications section of your LinkedIn profile.

9) Creative

What it means: You find out-of-the-box, sometimes unusual ways to accomplish your goals.

Creativity is a desirable trait, but it’s one of those things people have to take your word for unless they’ve worked with you directly. And in that case, you don’t need to promote your creative abilities -- they’ll already be familiar with them.

The fix: Call out a creative strategy or game plan you’ve used. Suppose a prospect was struggling to get foot traffic to their store, so you advised offering free classes to draw in random pedestrians. Citing these examples of creativity help buyers understand the value of working with you.

10) Excellent

What it means: Your results were outstanding, or you’re atypically good at something.

Excellence is far more believable coming from a third party. It’s not convincing to say your partners see “excellent ROI” or your company offers “excellent customer service.”

The fix: If you have verification from an external source -- like a customer blog post, industry award, press mention, or testimonial -- highlight that instead.

To illustrate, check out this before-and-after example:

Before: “ServiceNow provides excellent support. Our customers always have trusted experts to turn to for advice and information.”

After: “As one of our customers said, ‘I’ve never experienced better customer support. ServiceNow makes my life so much easier.’ Read more here: [link.]”

Has this post inspired you to refresh your LinkedIn profile? Let us know in the comments!

Editor's note: This post was originally published in February 2015 and has been updated for comprehensiveness and accuracy.

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Topics: Social Selling

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