Death by Label on LinkedIn

Sharing a great little article I came across this morning while reading posts on Inc.com. Columnist, Chris Matyszczyk, has a direct message for self-labelers: Our BS-Detectors have been re-calibrated. We can see you and you are naked.

I found myself chuckling through the entire piece. Chris nails one of my pet peeves, Industry Buzzwords. One of the new buzzword’s driving me crazy is, Evangelist.

What image immediately comes to mind when you hear the word Evangelist? To me the mental picture is that of a late-night TV preacher begging for donations through showers of his or her tears. Puffed hair, tailored outfit, drama-King/Queen to the max. In other words someone I would NEVER call to give me advice about how to live my life or run my business.

Former PGA Tour player and World Golf Hall of Fame member, Ken Venturi, said when his father talked it was to say something meaningful. Ken shared the story about advice his father had given early in Ken’s career as a professional golfer. “Son, you’ll never have to tell the people how good you are.” When Ken asked why, the replay came, “Because when you get that good, the people will be telling you.”

When you get that good in whatever industry you’re in, you won’t have to tell anybody. They’ll tell you.

What self-labeling terms and buzzwords drive you crazy and why? I am compiling a list of these terms for an upcoming speaking engagement and I’d love to hear what industry slang drives you over the edge. Read Chris’ engaging article, then send me your list. Thanks!

Now enjoy, The 6 Worst Things You Can Call Yourself on LinkedIn:

“It’s hard to find words that say how wonderful we are. Perhaps we shouldn’t try so hard.

The problem that so many of us Americans have is that we love ourselves. This love tends to be all-encompassing, which means that we try and encompass everyone else with that self-love.

We don’t realize, however, that sometimes we can sound a little too wonderful and this can put off potential clients or employers. A lot. We can also use words that sometimes mean slightly less than we’d like them to. Especially when we’re presenting ourselves on LinkedIn.

Here are the 6 worst things you can call yourself on LinkedIn. Please check them against your own profile. Just, you know, in case you think you’re that wonderful.

1. VISIONARY. What are you, a clairvoyant? Someone with special powers? You probably think that you are. However, one part of vision is envisioning what others will think of your self-description. Describing yourself as a visionary is telling other people that you’re more existentially exalted than they are. That isn’t very visionary.

2. INSPIRATIONAL LEADER. Says who? Do you have a list of those you inspired? (No, that wasn’t a serious question.) You’re going to tell me that all those people who have recommended you on LinkedIn actually have the merest tinge of objectivity? Or are you going to tell me that they recommended you because you recommended them? And you recommended them because LinkedIn suggested you should. That wasn’t very inspired of you.

3. SUCCESSFUL. I’ve noticed this word on a lot of LinkedIn profiles. I think it’s there for the person who wrote the profile. They need to remind themselves that they’re successful. They worry that they’re not. They also need to believe that other people are failures. But success and failure are movable beasts. As words of self-description, they actually mean nothing. Except in your shrink’s office.

4. THOUGHT LEADER. Someone in marketing must have invented this one. Does it mean: “My thoughts are better than yours?” Does it mean: “People can’t wait to hear the next thing that comes out of my brain?” Or might it signify: “I’m trying to make myself sound important here and I hope I get away with it.”?

5. CONCEPTUAL THINKER. Please forgive me for asking, but what does this mean? Does it mean that you have a grasp of mental concepts? Doesn’t everyone, at least to some extent? Are you trying to say that you have lots of ideas? Or that you think in ideas? Or that when you think you don’t just think of ice cream and butterflies and sunny days? Could it be that you’re saying that you had no idea what to write and this sounded good?

6. PURPOSE-DRIVEN. I worry. You’re driven by a purpose, as opposed to a whim? But what if your purpose is whimsical? What if your purpose is money? Is that a good thing or a bad thing? I went to a thesaurus, fascinated by what might be the opposite of purpose. I was given “aimlessness,” “neglect” and “oversight.” You’re telling me you’re not driven by aimlessness? OK. So you wrote that on purpose?

I just went to the LinkedIn page of Jeff Weiner, the company’s CEO. He describes himself as ‘a successful, inspirational leader whose purpose-driven and thinks conceptually.’

Actually, he doesn’t.”

THE END

Published on: May 28, 2015, Inc.com
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com nor MITTON Media.

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