Start perusing through your LinkedIn network, and you'll find no shortage of persons who describe themselves with the following titles:

  • Expert
  • Thought leader
  • Authority
  • Guru

The general idea behind these titles is that the person is a respected voice in his or her field, and that we should take them seriously.

But there's a big problem with this line of thinking:

People rarely care about what you think of yourself.

You might believe that you're the best social media strategist this side of the internet, but that doesn't make it true. And whether you're seeking a new opportunity or simply concerned about your brand, you want to stand out from the rest of the pack.

A self-proclaimed title is the last thing that will help.

Do This Instead

Instead of making claims about what you are...

Prove it.

Don't tell us you're a thought leader.

Instead, prove the value of your thoughts by publishing them.

Don't tell us you're an expert.

Instead, show us what you've accomplished.

If you're a web designer, give us links to the best sites you've designed. If you're a marketer, tell us how you increased brand awareness (and sales) for previous clients. If you're a photographer, include a portfolio that showcases your best work.

Don't tell us you're an authority.

Instead, let others do it for you.

Start by seeking out those you can praise for the value they've added--and at least some of them are likely to reciprocate. (I'm not encouraging you to commend others just to get something in return. But it is a nice byproduct.)

And there's nothing wrong with sending a short message to your current and former colleagues, partners and connections, asking for a brief recommendation, or comment expressing how you've added value.

Unless, of course, you haven't added value.

And in that case, forget about your LinkedIn profile. Instead, focus on increasing the quality of your work.

Or, as Steve Martin famously said: "Be so good they can't ignore you."

So, please: Stop telling us you're an expert.

Just get out there and prove it.