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The LinkedIn Headline Mistake That is Killing Your Cold

Outreach. How the words you use in your LinkedIn headline can make or break your efforts.

By Inc.Arabia Staff
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Cold outreach is difficult. If you're a business professional, executive, or entrepreneur, you probably know that LinkedIn is the go-to place to connect with other professionals and potential leads. Yet, if your experience is anything like mine, most cold outreach attempts end up missing the mark.

In November of last year, I set out on a mission: I committed to posting daily on LinkedIn for an entire year. My goal was to expand my network, find new opportunities for partnerships and collaborations, and clarify my coaching message through my writing. Throughout this journey, my follower count reached more than 1,300, a significant amount considering I'd never been active on the platform before. But with this surge in followers, I also started receiving hundreds of cold messages, many of which felt as personalized as a supermarket coupon:

"I specialize in helping people like you get more clients. How would it feel to have 30 to 50 new leads every month?"

Or, "Congratulations on your new role! Let's talk about your retirement plans to make sure you're on track."

Or my favorite, "Noticed we share a similar background. Would love to network and build a relationship based on trust. How about a call?"

This last one may seem like a genuine attempt to start a conversation. And while there's nothing inherently wrong with that, the message almost always fails to resonate. Why? Because when it's followed up by a LinkedIn headline that screams, "I turn your coaching business into a 7-figure empire," it's hard to believe the outreach is anything more than a sales pitch.

In 2019, as explained in his new book The Diary of a CEO: The 33 Laws for Business and Life, Steven Bartlett offered a golden piece of advice to a large global B2B company: Stop using the job title "salesperson" and opt for "partnerships team" instead. The result? A 31 percent uptick in email responses and sales. The goal remained the same; only the perception changed.

"As I suspected," Bartlett says, "a job title with the word 'sales' in it primes the people you contact to believe you're going to pester them to buy something they don't want. Conversely, the framing of the word 'partner' suggests the person is on your team."

Your goal of growing your clientele or selling a service doesn't change, but how you approach potential leads does. In essence, what you say is determined by the context in which your message exists. As Bartlett mentions in his book, your customers hear everything, even the things you're not saying outright.

Your goal is to create perceived value in your potential customer's mind. In doing so, sometimes less is more, Bartlett explains, and just one word, tweak, or decision can make a huge difference to the perception of a product or service's value.

If you're using LinkedIn as a business tool, sometimes restraint can be your greatest asset. Your LinkedIn profile should be a welcoming entryway into your professional life, not just a neon sign screaming for the sale.

If your headline implies you're all about the sale, you'll likely get a variety of negative replies--or worse, plain silence. On the flip side, if your profile and your actions align with genuine intentions of building trust first, LinkedIn becomes the perfect platform to meet new, interesting people, and potentially grow your business.

Before sending out your next batch of LinkedIn cold messages, take a good look at your entire profile. Approach the interaction with genuine intentions to build trust before you go for the sale. As Steve Chandler explains in the book he co-authored with fellow coach Rich Litvin, The Prosperous Coach, needy is creepy. 

"You will have a hard time truly hearing your client if your own mind is occupied by your own needs," says Chandler. "As in, 'I need this client, I need this money so badly, I really can't afford to lose this sale, I'll discount, I'll do anything,'--you become desperate."

According to Chandler and Litvin, you want to talk and think deeply about the client's world, not your world. Potential leads will sense if you're being needy and making it about you, or if you're being genuine and making the interaction about them.

You may want to explore different ways of starting a conversation and staying connected with people in your network. Think about how you could deliver value in each interaction. You can send a gift or a note, and you can always try to contribute and serve. According to the book, this is the mindset to have: 'You don't need them; they need you. Behave accordingly.'

Does your entire LinkedIn page reflect your genuine intentions? Does it make potential clients want to engage and establish a relationship, or does it make them want to run away?

Your answer could be the difference between a message that lands or one that flops. Most importantly, it could be the difference between your next true client or just another outreach followed by silence.

Photo Credit: Getty Images.

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