Empowering Students to Make a Difference One LinkedIn Headline at a Time

Our summer is getting off to a strong start as we welcome almost 100 students on board to join us in our economic recovery efforts. The second cohort of the IC² Institute’s Home to Texas program met for the first time on Tuesday for orientation and training. Home to Texas students will be working for a community company while conducting research to discover the underlying values of their hometowns. At the same time, the IC² Regional Recovery program also starts this week. Student researchers will investigate >60 cities selected cities across Texas and Louisiana to map out the community’s strengths, challenges, and opportunities.

For some of the students this is their first job, while others will be looking for opportunities after their internship. Our goal is to develop future community leaders that will think differently about economic development and community life. One way for them to showcase what they are doing is through LinkedIn. We believe that LinkedIn can be a powerful tool for them to learn how to make connections in their community,grow their professional network and begin to show the inspiring stories of the communities they are working in.

Part of the students training will include how to use LinkedIn to help them achieve their research goals. The first participant of our LinkedIn training came at 2:45 pm Wednesday as complete shock, our Deputy Director Greg Pogue sent us the following email:

“I need some help. I am ~1,850 characters ABOVE the limit for LinkedIn and need to get back to grant writing. I guess there is a 1,250 character limit.

From Position to Purpose – or the Evolution of My LinkedIn Profile Headline.

“As my role changed at The University of Texas at Austin, I needed to “say” something through my profile to promote the growth of the IC2 Institute mission where I then served as Interim Director. So, I deleted the “resume” and dramatically changed the “About” section of my profile – making the first paragraph edgy and the rest more engaging. I deleted the headshot and added in a photo that reflected me more – one where I was playing the bass with friends on stage. Boom! these changes resonated with a new group of people – not just who I know, but many I WANTED to know. Clearly, the changes made a difference. What else was missing?

One of our bright UT students is preparing a training program for our ~100 summer student interns that are creating community asset maps across the state of Texas. This program teaches them to design an effective LinkedIn profile and share some initial posts about their summer internship. As I reviewed her materials detailing LinkedIn best practices, I saw that I had addressed many past errors – don’t paste in your resume in your profile; don’t use a bland cover photo, and others. I thought – hey, I am doing pretty well. But then she talked about the Headline – I realized I missed something important:

•You get one chance to leave a lasting first impression.

• It is not an elevator pitch.

 •It is NOT about your job today, but your life purpose, your broader value, or future job.

• And, by the way, you have just 120 characters to do this.

I had not considered the “Headline” before. My profile reflected my “position” not who I am as a person and my purpose. So, today I’m making some changes. My Headline went from:

• “Deputy Executive Director, IC² Institute, The University of Texas at Austin” (yes, I know, this is NOT an effective Headline…), to something that moves me:

• “Seeing community future through an entrepreneurial lens – changing the world, one entrepreneur, one community at a time.”

Now, this is who I am; this is my purpose. I live this out through my position at UT, but I also in my personal life – as a father, a friend, an entrepreneur and scientist. I do not know the impact this change will have on my profile’s visibility – but I can say that my new Headline finally packs a message. P.S. – thanks Sophia Hennessy for the wisdom and kick in the pants.”

Wow! Seeing your boss make a change from a student’s recommendation within the hour is pretty cool. These students are going to have a tough time outdoing Greg this summer. But we can’t wait to see the creative ways they showcase themselves and the communities they are working in.


Check out Greg Pogue’s new LinkedIn profile. 

<Go back to view more IC² blog posts.


Posted on

June 8, 2020

Submit a Comment