I recently started a discussion within different LinkedIn groups where I asked consultants, sales, and marketing leaders how they were differentiating themselves from others in their industry. One consultant mentioned that her differentiation was defined by her extensive experience and her successful professional achievements, which contributed to the development of a variety of sectors.

But experience (no matter how extensive it may be) is not a differentiator. It’s a credibility builder, as it shows that you are qualified – but there are thousands of others who may also be qualified to help with my business needs.

Your years of experience doesn’t tell me the unique business value that I will receive from your services or solutions. It doesn’t show me your relevance to my needs now, and that you understand my unique situation and have an alternative solution that I haven’t already tried. Unless you’ve actually shown me on your LinkedIn profile that you have evolved and what your business value is now, I think that your approach and techniques may be old and outdated. Organizations are looking for new, fresh, young blood. So unless you demonstrate that you’ve evolved, your years of experience mean little to nothing.

But consultants and others continue to use their years of experience as a differentiator. Here are some examples to show you what I mean….

CEO Coach Uses 20 Years of Experience and Awards as a Differentiator…

Summary Image - CEO Coach - 20 yrs expLet’s look at this summary in detail. This CEO Coach mentions that he’s a “talented leadership coach and organizational change specialist who partners with his clients to improve performance and produce better business results.” Isn’t that what every leadership coach is supposed to do for their client? How does this make him any different?

He goes on to say that he has more than 20 years of “progressive experience” as a management consultant to family businesses, Fortune 100 corporations, nonprofits, and government agencies.  Do you see anywhere in his profile what that experience means to the prospect and the value they will receive?

I just see that he’s an experienced, award-winning “generalist” as he has no specific industry focus and is not claiming expertise in a certain area. By focusing on his “years of experience” and accomplishments, he puts himself in the same camp as others who are just as qualified.

Management Consultant Uses 40 Years of Experience as a Differentiator

Summary Image - Management Consultant - 40 yrs exp

Doesn’t this profile seem to read and have the same positioning as the consultant above, with the same generic benefits of higher performance and better results? He just has 20 additional years of experience in working with organizations of all sizes in the public, private, and not-for-profit sector. So again, he’s a generalist with no unique business value to the prospect!

Business Finance Coach Promotes 36+ Years Helping Entrepreneurs Fulfill Their Dreams to Differentiate Himself

Summary Image - Business Finance Coach - 36+ yrs

This consultant is so focused on using years of experience as a differentiator that he used in it as his main differentiator in his profile headline and in his summary. His headline actually reads: For 36+ Years, Helping Entrepreneurs Fulfill Their Dreams. This claim sounds a bit like fluff to me. What does “helping entrepreneurs fulfill their dreams” really mean, anyway?

His whole summary is about his experience (in fact, it reads like a cover letter and resume!) He missed the boat by talking about himself, his accomplishments, and roles instead of his unique business value to multiple-founder start-ups and closely-held family businesses.

Management Consultant Uses Years of Experience and Certifications as a Differentiator

Summary Image - Management Consultant - CMC cert

This Management Consultant not only uses her years of experience as a differentiator, but her Certifications as well. But what business value do those certifications bring me? Just like years of experience – certifications are a credibility builder, but it does not speak to your value and how you are different.

I shocked another consultant when I told him that his certifications mean nothing to the prospect who’s looking for business value. He thought that his Certified Management Consultant (CMC) designation would differentiate him from uncertified consultants. He responded by saying that maybe if the consulting organizations would promote the qualification so more people know about it – then it would be a differentiator.

But he’s missing the point: even if these consulting organizations promoted the qualification and more people knew about it, it wouldn’t matter. The real issue is that the certification is just a qualification; it’s a way to build his credibility. The CMC certification is not a differentiator. It’s a great achievement but has nothing to do with the unique business value he can provide to his clients and prospective clients.

How I Communicate Business Value

Now, I’m not saying that you should stop using your years of experience and other qualifications. You do need credibility builders so prospects see that you are the expert, and you can back your claims. But, you need to have a balance and discuss your unique business value that prospects are seeing.

If you look up my name on LinkedIn – Kristina Jaramillo – you’ll see that I’m a featured expert in LinkedIn’s “The Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to LinkedIn,” I produce results (like a 400% ROI for an international consulting firm), I am recognized by the New York Times as a social media expert, and that I have article published in Forbes, MarketingProfs, and many other top publications.

But that doesn’t show my unique business value. It builds great credibility, but it doesn’t differentiate me from other social media and LinkedIn marketing firms. I differentiate myself by showing how most other experts focus on “brand awareness” or “leads” instead of relationships and revenue, and how my focus is leading to stronger results. I differentiate myself by showing the unique approach I take when it comes to LinkedIn profiles and the services I deliver.

Now, how are you going to show that you are different, have a unique business value, and are relevant? In my upcoming LinkedIn Profile Makeover Webinar, I’m sharing how to turn your LinkedIn profile into a complete sales and marketing tool that communicates value. Click here to register for the Get LinkedIn Help LinkedIn Profile Makeover webinar!