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What’s with all these LinkedIn titles?

What’s with all these LinkedIn titles?

Guru, Ninja, Unicorn, Mumprenuer, Amazon Bestseller, Influencer, Thought Leader, Life Coach, Change-maker are just some of the cliched titles and labels that populate thousands of professional Linkedin profiles.

And there’s a level of angst and occasionally hostility toward these titles. Why? Because there is a perception that they haven’t been earned, are misleading, or lack substance. These titles lack clarity and specificity, leaving people to wonder what they actually mean or involve. There is an erosion of impact when everyone claims to be a leader or influencer. A little like click-bait content that gets our attention, it doesn’t take long before the shine wears off and we are regretting our decision to engage with the self-annointed guru.

For example, everyone that has written a book today seems to be an ‘Amazon Best Seller’. I found this accolade to be diluted by the sheer amount of people claiming to be one. It wasn’t until I raised it in a discussion that it was obviously an issue for others. So much so that Mike Winnet a communications provocateur in the UK, put together a video on YouTube on how you can gain an ‘Amazon Best Seller’ acknowledgement without any effort or even writing a book. Granted, his was an exercise in self-promotion and satire but it did highlight the absurd lengths people go to, to  get this manufactured label of ‘Best Seller’.

Ali Balch a marketing specialist asks; “When did combining a random word with – preneur become a thing? … What is this madness and how do we make it stop?”

Definition of entrepreneur according to dictionary.com: a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk.

The label and title ‘Mumpreneur’ and for that matter any play on the word entrepreneur such as ‘Teenpreneur’, ‘Youpreneur’, ‘philanthropreneur’ and many more seek to add creativity and specificity to the world of small business. But in my view, prefacing the word entrepreneur with Mum or Teen is just insulting to the woman or young person that is doing the hard yards. There should be less silos if we are creating a business word that is diversified and equal. You are either an entrepreneur or you are not. Your sex, age, religion, marital status, culture or race has nothing to do if you are an entrepreneur.

The classic ‘Thought leader’ label is one that irks many as this self-proclaimed title is one that can only be bestowed by others. There are in fact very few thought leaders by definition but there seems to be many claiming the title. Being an authority in the field needs to be acknowledged by others in that field, not claimed flippantly in a bio.

The term Thought Leader as defined by dictionary.com: a person or organization that is a recognised authority in a particular field and whose innovative ideas influence and guide others.

The amount of life coaches, business coaches and anything with ‘coach’ in the title is another red flag for consumers and many have become cynical and untrusting around this title. There are many fantastic practitioners in the coaching space, but they are swamped by the many pretenders, including 21-year-old Life Coaches and those who are broke, failed business owners, unemployed and inexperienced operators claiming this title is alarming.

In a world of self-proclaimed leadership, expertise and influence, how are we to know who the real experts, leaders and authorities of their space are? Who is vetting these people? Where is the quality control? The reality is there is no vetting process or quality control,  it is totally unregulated. And if you are a leader, expert or influencer, how do you prove your credibility to others so they look beyond the title to what you know and can do?

The real experts are getting on with business. Their cup is overflowing with work and it is the responsibility of those that are looking to employ the people with such titles to do their homework. Don’t get hoodwinked, conned or misled with the titles but rather look heavily into referrals, consult trusted resources and do your research on any expert you are engaging. Too often the fake experts hide behind the thin veil of a title, where the real experts stand tall by their actions and results.

“In the end people can call themselves whatever they like. It’s what they do I look at. Actions speak louder than words”. Dave Clare

Nic Hayes, Managing Director of communications company Media Stable.

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