LinkedIn headlines: bravery badge

The relentlessly helpful® blog by John Espirian

31 May 2020
LinkedIn bravery badges

In Content DNA, my book about finding the right “shape” to your personal brand, I talk about an element of social media headlines that is often overlooked by my clients.

It’s the third and final part of my “interesting, informative, intriguing” formula for social media headlines – and I call it a bravery badge.

LinkedIn headline length change.

This article is based on LinkedIn’s old maximum headline length of 120 characters.

This limit was changed to 220 characters in mid June 2020.

Just because you have more space, doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to use it! Avoid fluff at all costs.

3-part LinkedIn headline formula
3-part LinkedIn headline formula

What is a bravery badge?

A bravery badge is a short bit of personal text at the end of your LinkedIn headline.

Most LinkedIn headlines are deathly boring. They tend to start as “[Job title] at [Company]” and rarely get more interesting than that.

In my 3-part headline formula shown above, the bravery badge takes up only the final 20 characters out of the default allocation of 120 characters in your LinkedIn headline.

So, how can such a small thing really help?

Well, because your bravery badge is a conversation starter.

I’ve lost count of the number of people who’ve connected with me and mentioned my “not a douche canoe” bravery badge in their invitation note or in a follow-up intro message.

Adding something fun or different to the end of your LinkedIn headline gives it better balance than if you filled it with keywords or other businessy things alone.

How do I find my own bravery badge?

Getting your bravery badge right means doing some introspection. Ask yourself some questions:

  • What’s different about you?
  • What things do you care about and like doing away from business?
  • How can you humanise your personal brand?
  • What’s something no one knows about you that might help to start a conversation?

It’s that last bit that’s really important.

Conversations are the route to results in networking.

Imagine you were writing a version of my 20 things about me article.

What would you write if you had to make something in this style? What nugget in there might fit nicely into 20 characters at the end of your headline?

You might mention something about an unusual hobby, an odd experience or an incredible personal achievement. We all have these things in the locker, no matter how boring we might think we are.

Bravery badge examples.

My bravery badge relates to chapter 22 (“Poison portraits”) of Content DNA, where I talk about the imagined person I don’t want to serve in my business.

I characterise him (obviously it’s a him) as a salesy douche canoe.

Don't be a douche canoe

Here are some more bravery badges to get your cogs turning:

Let’s wrap up.

Think about adding some personality to your LinkedIn headline. Focusing on business only and being “professional” all the time isn’t necessarily the best way to be noticed, remembered and preferred.

Think of your bravery badge as a conversation starter and a way to show who you are.

Who knows? Perhaps you’ll develop new relationships because of it.



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John Espirian

I’m the relentlessly helpful®️ LinkedIn nerd and author of Content DNA

I teach business owners how to be noticed, remembered and preferred.

Espresso+ is a safe space to learn how to ethically promote your business online and get better results on LinkedIn.

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