LinkedIn is more than just another app — it’s a platform that has the power to supercharge your career and connections. Elevate your online presence, open doors to new opportunities, and redefine success on your terms. In this episode, get ready to dive deep into the world of LinkedIn profile optimization with Donna Serdula, founder of Vision Board Media, LinkedIn-Makeover.com, and Author of “LinkedIn Profile Optimization For Dummies.“. Today, Donna Serdula takes you on a journey through the intricacies of creating a LinkedIn profile that tells your unique story. Learn the strategic use of keywords, eye-catching headlines, and compelling sections that make you stand out in the crowd. Tune in now!
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How To Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile And Elevate Your Online Presence With Donna Serdula
Every day, I have the best guest, but I mean it this time. Her name is Donna Serdula. We’re going to talk about everything on LinkedIn, everything you want to know, solve all your problems, get you set up with a new profile, and get you to where you need to be. If we don’t quite reach your expectations, you got the expert. You got the queen of LinkedIn here. She can connect with you afterward and she can share her magic with you. Let’s talk a little bit about who Donna Serdula is. Who is she?
She founded Vision Board Media and LinkedIn-Makeover.com. I love that name. Her mission is to help people realize their internet identity and shape that makes an impact and opportunity. Donna became the chief influencer advocating the importance of taking control of your internet identity. Many of my readers don’t even know what that means. We’ll dive into that too.
Taking over that internet identity, she’s also the author of LinkedIn Profile Optimization For Dummies. How many of you have read some dummy books in your lifetime? I’m sure you have. You need to go pick up this one. She’s also featured on Business Insider, Time’s Money Section, Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch, LA Times, NBC, and SiriusXM Radio’s The Focus Group. Welcome to the show, Donna. I’m going to call you the Queen of LinkedIn.
I’ll answer that. Thank you so much, Michelle.
I’m so happy to have you on. We’re going to have a lot of questions. It’s going to be a real-packed episode so you got to drink from a fire hose. Make sure you take note. Always read this episode again and again. Donna, tell me a little bit about yourself. What were you like as a little girl?
As a little girl, I was insanely shy and very quiet, which is hysterical to think that I now get up on stage, I talk to hundreds of people, I do things like this, and it was completely and utterly against my nature as a child growing up.
You have to grow and stretch yourself. I always tell people in order to grow, you have to let go of control and you have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
That is so true. If you’re comfortable in your current zone and if you want to get out of that, you’ve got to get uncomfortable. For me, I have a message. I’m not doing this because I just want to. I do feel that people need to understand the importance of telling their stories and the importance of LinkedIn for their careers, business, and lives. It’s something that a lot of people do, but I don’t think they truly embrace it or recognize the true potential that it offers.
I don’t think they understand it. Like me, I’m not the most technical person. I’m not the one doing social media, but to hire somebody and oversee that, you need to understand it. That’s why we had on now the Queen of LinkedIn. How did you become the Queen of LinkedIn? How did you get started? How did this become your life’s path?
I joined LinkedIn in 2005. Do you remember when you joined?
I know it wasn’t 2005. Maybe 2012, 2013, or 2014, somewhere around there.
It started when people were truly joining. It was back in 2003. I wasn’t even the earliest adopter. It was in 2005 that I joined. Someone had said to me, “This is a great platform. You can get tons of opportunities. You can find leads. You can find job opportunities. You got to get on.” I signed up, and it looked like my resume. I copied and pasted it into my resume. I waited for an opportunity to intersect with me and nothing happened. It wasn’t until later that I was in a position that was a very highly pressured sales environment, like cut-throat, dog-eat-dog, and 80 cold calls before noon every day. That was the life I was leading.
What sales industry was that?
It was technology. I was selling CAD software to architects and engineers. I was an Autodesk reseller at the time, but that was when it all came together, the importance of LinkedIn, the brand, how you could differentiate yourself and put yourself out there, and how you could research people and collide with opportunity. It all was coming together. Also, taking the knowledge that I had from my previous position doing so much with sales automation and customer relationship management tools, LinkedIn made so much sense to me. It was in 2009 that I started my business. People thought I was totally and utterly insane. They’re like, “You’re starting a business to write LinkedIn profiles for professionals?”
When I think you’re insane, you’re onto something.
That’s what I felt because I knew back when I was dealing with that sales territory, all I wanted was to find someone who could help me articulate my story because it’s so hard to write about yourself. It’s so hard to see yourself in a manner that makes sense, feels authentic, resonates with other people, and that’s aligned with your goals. It’s so hard to do it.
You need to have someone take you by the hand, ask you the right questions, and help make sure that it’s not just this obituary. It’s future-forward, engaging, exciting, and impressive. I knew that I needed someone to do that for me, but no one was doing it. Everyone was looking at it like, “It’s a resume. Let’s copy and paste your resume.” Nothing would happen because it’s not engaging. It’s not truly your brand, especially for those who aren’t job seekers. Not everyone is a job seeker on LinkedIn.
How did you do that now? How do you write an engaging copy? I had a LinkedIn specialist that I worked with. He wrote the worst copy I’ve ever seen. It was hard for me to go back and try to correct that copy. I kept working with them and I was like, “Maybe you’re not the right person for me,” so I gave up. You do have a fan here, so I’m going to mention this real quick. Cadia says, “I love Serdula.” Let’s talk about that engaging copy. First of all, let’s start with the beginning. Let’s talk about your profile, how you update your profile, when should you update your profile, and how you get that engaging copy and not just stick your resume up there.
Let me say this. Having done this since 2009 when I started the business and even before that when I was actively using it in my business, I realized that you need to have a methodology for LinkedIn, a real step-by-step on how to do this in a manner so you can soar. My methodology is, in fact, SOAR. It’s an acronym.You need to have a methodology for LinkedIn, a real step-by-step. Click To Tweet
What is SOAR?
S stands for Strategize. The Strategize part is you can’t just write a LinkedIn profile. If you start to write your LinkedIn profile, you’re going to fail because you need to first step back and say, “Why am I on LinkedIn? What am I trying to accomplish? What is my real goal here?” Is it sales and prospecting? Is it reputation management? Is it executive branding? Is it thought leadership? Why are you doing this?
That’s like anything you do. You need to strategize and you need what is your why.
The most successful people start their day planning it out and then attacking it. This is the same deal. You’ve got to figure out your why. Why are you doing this? Who are you doing it for? Who is your target audience? What do they need to know about you? What do they care about? You also have to think about yourself and what your story is. What do you want to be known for? What differentiates you? What do you stand for? All of those good things.
Once you have that, then you move on to the O. The O is Optimize. Let’s look at that profile and make sure that it’s aligned with all of these things that we’ve already discovered, that you have a great-looking background image, a great-looking profile picture, a headline that’s engaging and optimized, a featured section that calls out all the good things you’re doing, and have this about section that gets people to smile, feel your warmth, and feel your shine. It goes down through your experiences, but it’s doing that in a manner that’s written for what people need to know about you. It doesn’t go too far. It’s not long. It’s never-ending, but it’s tight. It’s succinct and it does its job.
We have SOAR. We talked about Strategize and Optimize. What’s A?
Now that you have this foundation, you’ve got your brand on LinkedIn. A is Amplify. How do you amplify your message? How do you amplify your brand? You do that through your network. Your network is your net worth.
Amen. I say that all the time. Did you take it from me or did I take it from you?
We took it from Porter Gale who wrote the book. It’s so true. It should be who you are. It’s the people that you help and the people who help you.
Dr. Nido Qubein always talks about this. Dr. Nido Qubein is the President of High Point University. He’s on the board of directors for La-Z-Boy, Great Harvest Bread Company, and a bunch of other board seats. He says, “Do you want to be poor? Hang out with poor people. Do you want to be rich? Hang out with rich people.” Your network is your net worth. Whatever you decide you want to be, that’s who you hang out with and that’s who you become.
I remember hearing a keynote. What the guy said was, “Do you want to know who you are? You are the average of the five people you spend most of your time with. Look at them and you’ll be looking in the mirror. Do you want to do better? Surround yourself with different people.”You are the average of the five people you spend most of your time with. Click To Tweet
Not better people, but different people who you want to be.
You’re right, different people. With LinkedIn, you want to make sure you have that network. One of the biggest issues that I see is, a lot of times, people will say, “I’m not seeing any traction on LinkedIn.” The reason is their network is so small. You do want to have a strong network. I’m not suggesting just aiming low and wide. I’m not suggesting connecting with everybody and their brother. What I am suggesting is being deliberate, consistently connecting with the people that you meet, and spending time to get that foundation set of all the people that you’ve met throughout your career.
It’s not about saying, “I’m in this area of my business in this industry. I’m only going to connect with these people.” I’m not suggesting that. Who do you intersect with? Whom do you know? Your family, friends, schoolmates, colleagues, vendors, or clients. All of these people are people that are in your network. Make sure you spend the time to connect with them and you never stop connecting. You’re always connecting.
Before we completely talk about network, what was that R?
We got Strategize, Optimize, and Amplify. R is Relate. Now that you know your strategy, goals, and target audience, you have this great-looking profile that truly talks about your value, message, and story. It’s written to that target audience. You have a good strong network that you are continuing to build. Now is the time that you want to start to relate to these people and you want to start to engage. You have the network, now you can network. This is where you start to get loud on LinkedIn.
What’s an example of loud? How do you get loud?
Getting loud is to stop the lurking. When you scroll through that LinkedIn feed, you start to show that you’re here. The way you show that you’re there and you’re present is not through the like button but through the comment. You want to start to comment on other people’s posts and start to try to have conversations. That’s what we’re looking for. It’s not just that one-off comment, but it’s having a conversation. It’s providing some value, responding, and engaging. This is back and forth within the comments of posts of people within your network.
Once you get good at that and you start to get familiar with it, then you can start to think in terms of maybe you want to start to post. Maybe you want to repost other people’s interesting material. I don’t want to make people feel like they have to immediately jump into the deep end of the pool because that is hard. If you can take it step by step and you start to acclimate to that LinkedIn feed, that’s when you’re going to start to feel more comfortable. To then start posting will become a little easier.
Let’s go back a little bit about who you connect with. Is it okay to connect with people you don’t know, reach out to people you don’t know, you’ve never met before, so you can build that circle of influence, or not?
At one time, the only way to subscribe to other people’s updates and have them subscribe to you is through that connection. You had to connect. There’s no other way. LinkedIn has given us the follow button so we can follow people. If you don’t know someone, you can click follow. You can follow their updates and posts. Start to comment on what they’re putting out there and you start to show up in their life, they start to know you, and then you can hit the connect button.
Here’s the thing. If you have a reason to connect and that person is open to connecting with people they don’t know, you have a good reason to connect, and you personalize that message, go right ahead. If you want to have a strong network, click follow instead, get to know them, and then hit connect.
We got some questions coming in. By the way, whoever asks questions that we read, I will send three chapters of my book, Exit Rich. Donna, do you want to throw in a couple of chapters of LinkedIn Profile Optimization For Dummies?
I’ll throw in three chapters as well.
There you go. You have six chapters coming your way, for anyone that asks questions and we read the questions here.
Do you know what I’ll do? I’ll give them access to my instant profile, which is an AI-driven way of optimizing your profile.
How often should you change that profile? I thought your information was golden. SOAR was golden. How often should you update that?
With updating your profile, if you think about it, LinkedIn is not just a network. It’s a search engine. People are searching LinkedIn trying to find someone like you because they have this heaping bucket of opportunity they want to hand you. We want to collide with that opportunity. We want to turn up in search results. I’m coming around wondering, “Where am I going?” It depends.
We want to intersect with opportunity. We want to collide with it. We want to turn up in search results. Does it make sense for LinkedIn to show old and out-of-date profiles in their search results? It doesn’t. LinkedIn wants fresh results of people who are active on the platform and who are going to be more apt to respond to these people. They want something fresh.
Do you need to use key search words in your profile and your comments as you post?
Not so much on the things that you post. It’s certainly helpful, but having the right keywords in your profile will help you collide with that opportunity. Having a fresh profile will as well. I would suggest at least once every three months to go in there and check to see how it looks. If something has happened, if you have a new accomplishment or a new skillset, go in there and make sure that the profile is fresh. It’s been updated. It’s been edited. It’s going to help you because LinkedIn wants to deliver pertinent and quite fresh results. Go in there.
That’s a good point because we put our profile polls up, and then we forget it. We put them up there, and then we completely forget about them. We add all these services and things that we do, and then we don’t update that profile. That’s a huge point right there. Make sure you use those keywords. How do they find out what keywords they should use in their profile?
LinkedIn doesn’t provide. They provide a little bit, especially if you’re a premium member. They’ll tell you how people landed on your profile and they’ll give some idea of the keywords. Ultimately, you have to do your due diligence and you have to do your research and think.
We could just hire you.
They can hire me too.
I can always say, “Do it for me. I’m dumb for it kind of girl.”
I said it before. It’s hard to write about yourself.
It’s always better when somebody else is selling you versus you selling yourself too. You can get endorsements, and that’s something else. How do you go about getting endorsements?
When you say endorsements, that’s going on to your LinkedIn profile looking at the skills section, and having people endorse you for those skills. There’s no easy way of doing that. I wish there was. The best way to do it is if you want to get endorsed, make sure the top three are featured and ask people. You ask people to endorse you, and then you go out and endorse other people. As you endorse, hopefully, they’ll feel inclined to endorse you back.
It’s like a book. You get endorsements. You offer and endorse their books. Free version or a paid version?
For most people, the free version is good enough. It’s fine. I would even say that’s the last thing that you should be thinking about. The most important thing is using LinkedIn. Just because you’ve paid for LinkedIn doesn’t mean that you’re going to suddenly magically start using it. Before you even consider a premium account, what I want you to do instead is SOAR, Strategize, Optimize, Amplify, and then Relate. Once you start to use LinkedIn in that manner and start to see results, you’re going to find that you’re on it more often, you’re doing more searches, you’re finding more opportunities, and you’re getting a return on your time investment.
At that point, LinkedIn is going to make it very clear when it’s time to pony up and move to the premium package. What happens is you start to look at the people who viewed your profile and you want to see more than just the last five. You want to see more people who viewed your profile. You’re also going to find that LinkedIn is going to say things like, “You’ve run the searches this month. If you want to search, you’re going to have to get the premium.” You’re also going to find that you want more people to message you without being directly first-degree connected. That’s big because why do you limit it to just your first-degree connections? You want anyone and everybody to be able to message you on LinkedIn. Those are the underlying signs that it’s time to pay.
Time to pony up. Your friend, Esther, says, “What do we get here?” If you want to answer your friend, Esther, real quick.
We got a professional network, which is lovely. It’s someplace that you can go and you can feel like you’re not wasting your time. It’s not just for entertainment.
Hayden says, “How can individuals effectively communicate the personal brand through their profiles?”
Hayden, the way to do that is, first, you need to know what your brand is. What do you want to articulate about it? What you want to do is to make sure that when you go through that profile from the very top to the bottom, you’re encapsulating that. It’s making sure that you have a background graphic. Maybe there’s a certain color or maybe it’s looking at your website and grabbing graphics from there. Make sure that the background graphic makes sense. It’s not just that gray stripy default background, but it’s something that you’ve looked at, you’ve chosen, and you’ve uploaded.
It’s having a profile picture that shows you in a successful way. It doesn’t have to be a glamour shot, but it does put you out there in a great manner. It’s having a headline that says very briefly who you are, what you do, and how you help, and that contains your keywords. It’s then going through that about section and thinking about what your story is, your why, what your target audience needs to know about you, and how can you open yourself up. Give them a little bit of a sense of your warmth, personality, and passion and your mission for what you do. If you do that, you go right straight through, you think, and you do it deliberately and thoughtfully. You can’t go wrong. It’s finding the time and finding the words that state it in the right way.
It’s like before you said. You got to get loud. Maybe not in your profile, but you got so many seconds to capture someone’s attention. It’s so noisy on social media. Think about it. It’s noisy everywhere, but you got to rise above the noise. You got to be unique and set yourself apart from everyone else on LinkedIn.
It’s certainly not easy, but at the same time, LinkedIn is one of those networks where a lot of people are on it quietly. They’re scrolling, they’re looking, and they’re lurking.
You want to get their attention because they’re scrolling and looking.
At the same time, most of them are. For you to be the one that then suddenly says, “I am going to step forth. I’m going to start to create content. I’m going to start to educate, inspire, add value, and motivate.” Simply by being one of the few people who do step up and start to put forth that information, you’re going to find that you get a lot of eyeballs because of that.
It’s very important to think about what’s in it for them. Everybody wants to know, “What’s in it for me?” Know who your audience is and who you’re trying to attract or your targeted audiences, so you can focus on some of those features, benefits, and how you solve problems.
People are hungry. They want this information. How can you give it to them in a manner that tastes good and makes them see you in the right light?
People are hungry for quality content. I couldn’t agree more. Tim asked, “What are some common mistakes you see people making on their LinkedIn profiles?”
One of the biggest mistakes I see on their LinkedIn profile is a misalignment between their target audience, their goal, and then that narrative or that message of what they’re putting out there. Oftentimes, people hate to write about themselves and they don’t even know what to say, so they’ll grab a bio that was written a few years ago and they’ll slam that into the About section. They’ll pull out their resume and they’ll copy and paste information from that end.One of the biggest mistakes on the LinkedIn profile is a misalignment between their target audience, their goal, and then that narrative, what they're putting out there that message. Click To Tweet
They’re not thinking in terms of, “Why am I on LinkedIn?” If you’re on LinkedIn because you want to do it for business development purposes, the last thing your target audience wants to read is that resume, especially if it’s dry, dull, and out of date, especially if it talks about how you like to close business or you enjoy selling. That’s not a message that they want to hear.
You’re alienating your audience. You want to get clear as to, “What is it? What do they want to know about you? What do you want to share?” It’s a misalignment. Oftentimes, I will see where a person will put nothing on their profile. They’ll have this amazing trajectory and you can see by the companies they work for, the length of time, and their positions. You can tell that it’s golden, but unfortunately, it’s a skeleton because there’s no context, there’s no meat, and there’s nothing more.
People don’t even know what to think and they almost dismiss it. It is finding and striking that balance where you’re telling a story and you are giving information. You’re showing how you’ve moved through your career, what you’ve learned, why it was important, and how you’re utilizing this to continue to move forward.
How much business is being done on LinkedIn?
I have pretty much done zero lead gen or marketing, yet my phone rings every day from people who’ve seen me on LinkedIn and need help. A lot of business is being done. I wish I could pull out a figure for you.
I still have a question I want to ask you, but a lot of people just pop things up on social media. Again, they don’t have that intent and you need to make sure you have that strategy and intent that you talked about in SOAR. It is a business platform for lead generation.
People are slowly returning to the office, but there are still a lot of people who are working from home or working virtually. LinkedIn gives them the ability to interface, network, and have that water cooler time in a professional setting. We’re seeing more because of that. LinkedIn is also for recruitment. It’s a place to go and to research. People who are looking to work at your organization, they’re doing their research. It’s not always about leads and that type of business. It extends far beyond just that.There are still a lot of people who are working from home working virtually. LinkedIn gives them the ability to interface and network and have that sort of water cooler time and a professional setting. Click To Tweet
We did our coaching on LinkedIn. I can’t say we’re highly successful, but we’re a little successful. Jacob asked, “What advice do you have for users who want to start highlighting their experience, skills, and achievements?” That goes along with the conversation we’re having now.
It’s realizing that there is a difference between your resume and your profile. Your resume should have more granular accomplishments. The quantifiable numbers and accomplishments should be there on the resume. The profile I want, I want there to be that story. I want you to show people what you’ve done and tell that story around those accomplishments. I also want people to want to request your resume. I don’t want you to give everything away because we have to remember that the profile is completely and utterly public. Anybody can see it.
I don’t want you to feel that you have to give everything away on the profile, but definitely tell these stories and think in terms of what was important to you. You have to think to yourself, “Is this important in the long run? Is this going to take me into the future that I want for myself?” There are times when you do have to start to let things go. When we were talking about mistakes that we see on the profile, one of the things is I see a bottom-heavy profile where a person starts their career, gets on LinkedIn, puts a lot of information in, and then starts to add the new positions on top, but they don’t put the context and all of the context in these older positions.
What happens is you start to turn up in those search results because that’s where all of the content is, these older positions, and you start to get all these unqualified types of opportunities. It’s because the older positions are the ones that are optimized. You do have to start to pare down and take that stuff away because you don’t want to be turning up in search results for customer service opportunities that you may have done earlier in your career.
We have so many questions to get to. Christopher Bratt, “How do you feel about utilizing a new AI enhancement and AI in general when it comes to engaging and endorsing yourself?”
I have to say AI is fabulous. It’s a little scary, but it does offer us tools. At one time, those who were loud on different social media channels had a team of people helping them. AI can become you know that individual team and allow a person to do more than they were able to do before, and that’s a good thing. I do have an instant profile that allows you to use AI to generate the narrative and text for your profile. It’s different. It’s not the same as working with another human being whom you can talk to and let them understand and decide what’s important. For people who are starting and who have a limited budget, AI in that regard can work very well. There are lots of great tools out there as well that can help you understand the things to post and how to post better.
Can you tell us some of those tools real quick?
I sometimes go straight to ChatGPT. “This is what I want to write about. Can you help me format it? Can you help me edit it? Can you take this text? Can you flush it out? Can you make it more optimistic? Can you make it more succinct and professional?” Prompts like that can help you when you are posting on LinkedIn.
It’s not lying to you because it does lie from time to time.
That’s the other part I think with AI. Those who are very successful in using it are using it because they have a vision in mind. They know what the nugget is that they’re trying to put forth. When you have that, you have the vision and an idea of what it is that you want to say. You’re using it to help strengthen it and make it more successful. When you go to AI and you create something, that’s when. It’s just AI. It’s not AI in the human eye. That’s when I think there’s that potential for failure.
Your friend, Esther, asked, “How else can we project ourselves apart from connecting to new people on LinkedIn?”
You want to connect. You also want to follow people you don’t know on LinkedIn. LinkedIn extends beyond that. There are groups that you can become a part of. There are not a lot of groups that are very active but I think becoming a part of a group, certainly following hashtags, and jumping outside of your network to get good information on LinkedIn. Those are all ways that you can utilize LinkedIn beyond just connecting to people.There are really ways that you can utilize LinkedIn beyond just connecting to people. Click To Tweet
We got so many questions here. Steph wants to know, “Could you share a success story of someone who transformed their LinkedIn profile based on your advice that’s all significant positive outcomes?”
Which one shall we hit upon?
The best one that comes to your mind.
I’ve had a client who came to me years ago. She wanted her resume and profile done. She is one of those individuals that when good things were happening, she was always making sure she was coming back and keeping the profile up-to-date. I’ve watched her grow in her career. I’ve watched her go from new positions, always promotions, and some interesting pivots. She just started her own company. She’s having amazing success. A lot of that is because that brand is always very deliberate and aware of who her audience is, her goal, how she’s presenting herself, and that network that she’s forged on LinkedIn.
For me, when I see what she’s done and the fact that she’s now taking that step, she started this company, and she’s doing some amazing things, it’s Shelly Morales, MoralesHR. You can go and check her out and see all the wonderful things that she’s doing. I’m proud of her and to me, she’s one of our greatest success stories.
Jacob asked, “What are some of the latest trends or changes you have noticed in the realm of LinkedIn profile optimization?” Everybody wants to know about profiles.
It’s always changing. Oddly enough, looking at that LinkedIn profile, it hasn’t changed an awful lot over the years. It has the headline. It’s got the profile picture. It’s got the About section. I’m going to make a prediction now. I do believe that what we’re going to start to see is a tightening of the narrative. It’s almost going to become a commodity. It’s not going to be hard to generate content. It’s not going to be hard to generate a narrative through AI.
What’s going to become important is being able to say what you want to say in the most succinct, clear, and engaging way possible. I almost feel that for the longest time, it was always like, “Let’s go,” as long as we can. Let’s max out the character limits. Doing so makes sense because of the keyword density that we can get the more words we use. We’re able to infuse the keywords. At the same time, LinkedIn is going to get smarter. It’s not going to be so much about how often those keywords are used but in what type of context are we using it.
Also, looking throughout and seeing the trajectory of the person, where they work, who they are, what they’re creating, and how they’re using the content that they’re posting. I almost feel that it’s not going to be about large swaths of content, but content in the most succinct and impressive way. It has to elicit a reaction. It’s not about content for content’s sake.
Steph also asked, “With the rise of remote work and online networking, and because people are going to come back to the office but so many people have decided they’re going to work from home and a lot of companies are adapting to that, how can professionals use LinkedIn to expand their connections and opportunities beyond geographical boundaries?”
With LinkedIn, it’s a search engine. I said that before. It’s going to be important for you to think to yourself, “Where do I want to be? What do these companies look like? Where are they located?” Start to do those searches and figure out where those areas are. Find the companies that exist with it. Stop looking at just the profile. Look at the company page. From the company page, go into the people tab and start to see the people that comprise those companies. From there, you can start to say, “I need to be looking and connecting with these people.” That’s one way of looking at it. It’s always been connecting. Look beyond those who are in your backyard and see what else is out there. Start using LinkedIn as a search engine.
What about reaching out to competitors? What are your thoughts on that?
To me, it’s not a bad thing, especially if we have a relationship with them. If you don’t know a person, that’s always a little weird to reach out, especially if it’s a competitor.
Just to clarify, Donna, it is okay to reach up to people on LinkedIn that you don’t know because that’s what you’re trying to do. It’s to build a much bigger network.
At the same time, if you’re going to do that, you need to have a personalized note and a reason for that connection.
That was very important what you said. If you’re going to reach out to people you don’t know, have a personalized note. Can you give an example of a personalized note?
It’s the reason why you want to connect, especially if you don’t know the person. If you know the person, I don’t see the point of a personalized note, especially if they recognize your face. It could be a personalized note that says, “This is who I am. This is who I help. We know these people in common.” It is something that alerts the person as to why you’re connecting. The same goes for what you said, “Can I connect with my competitors?” You can certainly connect with your competitors. I don’t know if they’ll connect back. Maybe they will. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to do because there’s a lot of business in this world. It could be an opportunity for collaboration.
I like to connect with industries outside of mine because a lot of people think, “You got to learn from your competitors.” You need to know what your competitors are doing, but as importantly, you need to know what other huge companies are doing and learn from them, like Walt Disney and Four Seasons. You can name a bunch of great companies to learn from. Also, Apple. It’s important to also reach out and figure out, “What are they doing? Why are they so successful? What trace secrets can I learn from them?” It’s important to reach out and follow us on these big Industries that you want to emulate.
A lot of times, people forget that LinkedIn is a place to go for learning. Not just research but to learn and to see how other people are shaping their careers, where have they come from, and where are they going. Even using LinkedIn Learning, there are tons of courses that you can take on LinkedIn. It’s certainly a fruitful platform.
There are a ton of courses, I’ll say, “Just go to Donna.”
How do they grow followers or connections only then? I know you have over 45,000, I believe.
I’m rapidly approaching the 45,000. I’m about 43,000 now.
How are you growing at? How are you able to grow that? What are some tips you have?
The one thing I will say is I do utilize the Yesware add-on in my Gmail.
What is Yesware?
It’s a Gmail plugin. Whenever anyone emails me, I can see their LinkedIn profile on the side of the email. It’s a much easier way where I don’t have to search. It just pops up by email and I can click and connect. That has been very helpful. It only works with Sales Navigator, so you do need to have your premium account.
Why don’t we share with the audience what Sales Navigator is real quick? There is a fee for that.
That’s the premium sales piece of LinkedIn. Some people think of it as the Recruiter. There’s the Recruiter Lite. There’s the Sales Navigator for salespeople. Sales Navigator is the premium package for LinkedIn.
Sales Navigator. I made it. We have premium.
It’s a different interface.
I don’t know LinkedIn, so I’ll throw that up there. My marketing director does.
It’s a different interface. When you have Sales Navigator, you still have LinkedIn.com, but then you have the Sales Navigator interface and it allows you to drill in and do a much deeper search. It also allows you to choose who enters your LinkedIn feed so you’re only seeing those people that you want to see and not the entire network, which is quite nice.
Back on how to grow your LinkedIn follower connections, what are the top secrets for that? You got Yesware. Anything else?
It is using the QR code. When you’re out and about and you’re meeting people, rather than grabbing a business card or trying to put it into your memory, come back, and connect at a later date, connect right then and there on the spot using the QR code.
Does it mean you include your QR code in the section or your profile or comment?
This is when you’re in person. You go into the LinkedIn app, you click on the search bar, and a QR code shows up on the far right of the search bar. You click on that, and when you show it to the other person, they can scan it with their phone, your profile will pop up, and they can immediately hit connect. That QR code works even when you’re not in a one-on-one situation. I do a lot of speaking engagements, so I like to include that QR code in the speaking engagement. Whether it’s in the middle of it or at the end, I always say, “Everyone, get out your phone, please take a picture of this QR code. My LinkedIn profile pops up. Hit the follow, hit connect.” For people who have that audience, it’s a fabulous way of growing your network in a much more speedy way.
That’s a huge tip. I speak a lot too. I am an international speaker, and I use the QR code, but I don’t think I’m using it on my social media platform. That’s a huge tip. Any other golden nuggets like that you can share?
In terms of fast ways of increasing your network, I would say go to the My Network page and scroll through it. LinkedIn is trying to make it easy for you to connect with people, but very few people click on My Network and scroll through. If you scroll to the very bottom of that page, it says, “People you may know.” What they do is they extrapolate from your network and the people that they know who they think you probably know. LinkedIn is almost eerie in how spot-on they are.
Anything else? Any other big golden nuggets?
I’ve got tons of golden nuggets, but I think we’re at the top of the hour.
Hayden has one question I’m going to try to get to real quick. “How can individuals identify and strategically incorporate relevant keywords into their profiles?” I think you talked a little bit about that already. I don’t know if you have anything to add to that.
What I will say is once you identify the keywords that people are using to find someone like you, take those keywords, decide which ones are the biggest ones or the most important ones, make sure they’re in your headline, and make sure they’re in your About section. If you can infuse them into your job titles, those are sensitive areas and you should see that you do pop up more often in search for those keywords if they are in those fields.
How do you reconnect with somebody, like you’ve lost connection or you’re still trying to get them to respond? What’s your advice on that?
One of the ways is, first, to determine if this person is active on LinkedIn. If they are active, it could be as simple as visiting their profile, and clicking on the bell icon in the upper, so you are notified when they do post on LinkedIn. Sometimes simply visiting a profile if found is enough to show back up because if they are on LinkedIn, they’re actively showing. They might click on the notifications and see, “Michelle visited my profile.” Sometimes it’s little things like that, little drips, and then popping into a post and commenting. Also, sending them a message and saying, “I’ve been thinking about you.” Also, getting off of LinkedIn, picking up the phone, and saying hello.
I agree. You have been an amazing guest and dropped a lot of tips. I vote for Donna Serdula to run LinkedIn. I don’t see any other questions, so tell all audience how they can find you. How can they reach out to you? How can you help?
Certainly, find me on LinkedIn. That’s a fabulous way. My website’s LinkedIn-Makeover.com. We help people tell their stories. We help people brand their companies, brand their employees, and put themselves out there in the right light on LinkedIn and beyond. It’s not just LinkedIn. Visit LinkedIn-Makeover.com. We’ve got tons of free resources. All of our services are listed. We hold nothing back. Our pricing and everything is there visible and easy to see. I answer my phone. If anyone ever has any questions, they can always give me a call. I’m more than happy to talk.
She answers her phone, I’m so impressed.
It’s something so small but very few people do it anymore.
I want to ask you real quick about Vision Board Media. Give us a quick commercial on that.
In Vision Board Media, we elevate and accelerate careers through our branding, LinkedIn, and websites.
Do you have entrepreneurs with Vision Boards as well?
Yes. With Vision Board, it’s all about helping people in their careers. That can be in their business. It doesn’t have to be an employee track. It’s your track. It’s whether you’re an entrepreneur or you’re something else. You need to be able to tell your story. You need to be able to get deliberate on your brand and we’re there to help.Whether you're an entrepreneur or you're something else. You need to be able to tell your story. You need to be able to really get deliberate on your brand. Click To Tweet
How do we reach you there?
LinkedIn-Makeover.com. LinkedIn-Makeover is the domain. Vision Board Media is our company. If you’ve got a vision, I’ve got a board of writers, coaches, and consultants. We can help you with all of the media that you need.
I encourage everyone to go there. Where can they find your Dummies book?
It’s on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I find that even if I walk into a Barnes & Noble, it’s often there in the midst of the For Dummies Technology section. It’s LinkedIn Profile Optimization For Dummies. Get the one that has the chess pieces and not the silver balls. The silver balls are the first edition and that one is a little bit out of date. The one with the chess pieces is still very current. It will give you a good sense of what to do and how to do it. As I said, we have people who can do it for you, but we also have an instant profile that will help you utilize AI to do it for yourself if that’s the route you want to go.
Thank you so much, Donna, for being on our show, the Queen of LinkedIn. I love having you here. You dropped so many golden nuggets. You’re a terrific guest. I’d love to have you back on again and spill some more beans.
Thank you so much. I appreciate it. It was a pleasure talking to you.
Thank you. Thanks again to all of our Exit Rich guests for reading. Thank you to some new guests who participated because they all love Donna. This was a great episode. Like I said, it’s going to be like drinking from a fire hose. Go back and read again and again, Make sure you share this with your network of business owners and entrepreneurs and your network of people searching for jobs, anyone and everyone. This is great content there.
Also, make sure you share this with your network. You tune in every time to Exit Rich. Don’t forget to subscribe to Exit Rich. We’ll see you next time. Also, you can find the Exit Rich book on Amazon. You can find it at Hudson Books, and any other books store, like Barnes & Noble, etc. Until next time, thank you so much for joining in. Thank you, Donna. You’re a fantastic guest.
Thank you so much.
- Vision Board Media
- LinkedIn Profile Optimization For Dummies
- Exit Rich
- Shelly Morales – LinkedIn
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