Ever get handed a business card and see a name followed by 57 abbreviations citing the person’s credentials? You stare at the letters and congratulate yourself if you can even guess what a single acronym stands for.

The person handing you that card likely means well and wants to demonstrate that they’re an educated professional with the knowledge, skill, or experience necessary to perform the requirements of their position competently. If only the people reading their card also knew all the letters that went into those credentials. Most, frankly, don’t know and don’t care. A less-educated professional who has mastered the art of understanding the needs of the people he serves will fair far better than someone who passed 12 certifications and announces it on their letterhead.

We’re not saying don’t get the credentials, generally the more educated and informed you become, the better your decision-making abilities are. We’re saying don’t be that guy that has to list everything behind his name so everyone knows how smart they are. Pick one acronym or abbreviation. Pick the one you’re most proud of, or the one most likely to provide the validation required for your career and go with it. Any more is tacky and seems self-serving. Your additional experience will come through in conversation when appropriate if it even needs to come up at all.

The next time you have business cards or custom towels made, skip the desire to show how much you know and choose what you think is the most important credential and use that. You’ll come across far more personable, you won’t seem like you’re chasing respect instead of earning it, and your network will appreciate it.