Donna spent the first 10 years of her career in sales, marketing, and training. She joined LinkedIn’s social network...
Rocky Dhir’s dual interest in innovation and the law prompted him to establish Atlas Legal Research, LP in 2000....
If you want your LinkedIn profile to work for you, you can’t just upload your resume and hope for the best. A solid LinkedIn profile takes work. In this episode of the State Bar of Texas Podcast from the State Bar of Texas Annual Meeting, host Rocky Dhir talks to Donna Serdula about how she became the LinkedIn queen and how attorneys can use the platform to build their brand. Tune in for tips that will help you strengthen your LinkedIn profile.
Through her website LinkedIn-Makeover.com, Donna Serdula has helped thousands of executives, entrepreneurs, professionals, and companies from all over the world tell their unique story and brand themselves successfully.
State Bar of Texas Podcast
State Bar of Texas Annual Meeting 2018: How to Build up your LinkedIn Profile
Intro: Welcome to the State Bar of Texas Podcast, your monthly source for conversations and curated content to improve your law practice with your host Rocky Dhir.
Rocky Dhir: Hello and welcome to the State Bar of Texas Podcast brought to you in partnership with the Legal Talk Network. This is Rocky Dhir, your host recording from the 2018 State Bar of Texas Annual Meeting in amazing Houston, Texas. We’re having a great time.
You might be able to hear that buzz in the background; that’s the Annual Meeting taking place.
I’ve got a really special guest today. I’ve got somebody I’ve been looking forward to meeting for some time, and I think you’re going to enjoy meeting her as well. Her name is Donna Serdula.
Donna Serdula: Thank you so much for having me. It’s great to be here. This place is really amazing.
Rocky Dhir: It is jacked, right?
Donna Serdula: It’s happening.
Rocky Dhir: It’s to the max, I know. This place is epic. Now, for those of you that want to know who Donna is; I suggest you go on to linkedin.com and look up “Donna Serdula”, which is actually going be rather circular because Donna, this is a name I just gave her, okay. So, you guys are going to hear it first. We have dubbed her the LinkedIn Queen.
Donna Serdula: Oh. I love that.
Rocky Dhir: Right. It kind of get into your inner ABBA, right?
Donna Serdula: Yeah.
Rocky Dhir: Now the song is in your head, right? “You are a LinkedIn Queen”. I promise, I will never sing to you people again. All right. So, Donna, tell us about your journey; how did you become the LinkedIn Queen?
Donna Serdula: Well, I joined LinkedIn back in 2005, a long time ago.
Rocky Dhir: I think it was alive in 2005.
Donna Serdula: Well, in fact, I’m not even an early adapter, it started in 2003.
Rocky Dhir: Wow. Okay.
Donna Serdula: So, it was out there for a little while before I joined, but I joined — I did what a lot of people do, when you join that social network that professional network. They presented me with my LinkedIn – the LinkedIn profile.
Rocky Dhir: You took selfies with your food, didn’t you?
Donna Serdula: I did. I uploaded great looking selfies. What I did is I copied and pasted my résumé into the profile.
Rocky Dhir: Oh wow. It is that bad?
Donna Serdula: It’s not good because I leaned back and I was like, okay, opportunity, come and hit me, I’m ready and nothing happened, and LinkedIn seemed like this huge waste of time.
Rocky Dhir: I’ve heard that before but then people are still on it.
Donna Serdula: Yeah, well, there is opportunity, and so, what I started to realize is that everyone says, it’s your online résumé but it’s not, this is your digital introduction, it’s your first impression, this is where people go to look to see who you are before a meeting, before a conference like this people are checking you out, they want to know who you are, and this is where you can tell your story, you can brand yourself.
And so, I started to really use LinkedIn as that engine for building my brand, and once I did that, I started to find amazing success and it was from there that I thought, there should be someone out there writing LinkedIn profiles for people, and that’s what I started to do. And it’s now years later, I started in 2009, I’ve 30 writers with me and we write LinkedIn profiles, I’ve written over 5,000 for professionals and executives all over the world.
Rocky Dhir: Okay. So, I’m looking you up on LinkedIn as we speak.
Donna Serdula: Yes.
Rocky Dhir: Okay. It’s the first time I’m looking at your profile here. So it says, okay, interesting writer of powerful LinkedIn profiles —
Donna Serdula: Yes, as opposed to weak and boring.
Rocky Dhir: Or just saying, writer of LinkedIn profiles, they are using the word —
Donna Serdula: Yeah, these are important words.
Rocky Dhir: And then, you’re saying, help you stand out. So, you’re putting stuff in all caps and putting that out there.
Donna Serdula: I’m also using symbols and bullets.
Rocky Dhir: I’ve noticed that, but you are still putting your experience almost like in a résumé format where you’re going chronologically in reverse chronological order, you’ve done that on here.
Donna Serdula: Well, here’s the thing, that’s the structure of the profile. So, it starts with your profile picture.
Rocky Dhir: Right.
Donna Serdula: Right underneath is the headline.
Rocky Dhir: Right, right.
Donna Serdula: It’s almost like a headline in a newspaper to compel a person to understand who you are, what you do, and it should compel them to click to open the profile to read more.
Rocky Dhir: And you know what, I just realized I did something rude. So, if you want to follow along, with me and Donna, go on to linkedin.com, type-in “Donna” spell the usual way, D-O-N-N-A; Serdula, S-E-R-D-U-L-A. So, let’s follow along with this.
Donna Serdula: All right.
Rocky Dhir: Okay, let’s do this. So, you said first you got the profile picture, very nice profile picture.
Donna Serdula: Thank you.
Rocky Dhir: Although, I must say, even more impressive in-person.
Donna Serdula: Oh, thank you.
Rocky Dhir: Yes. And if you want to see her in-person, go on to — you go on to the Texas Bar TV channel, which is on YouTube. You go to youtube.com, type-in State Bar of Texas and you’ll be able to see what Donna looks like, well, not in-person, but on screen, but you get the idea.
Donna Serdula: Close enough.
Rocky Dhir: Anyway, very impressive person we’ve got here.
All right, so you’ve got the profile picture and then your name, and then you said, the headline.
Donna Serdula: There is the headline, yeah.
Rocky Dhir: Okay. Tell us about the headline?
Donna Serdula: Now, the headline follows you all over LinkedIn, so if you are active on LinkedIn, if you are sending out invites, if you are recommending people, all of these things, if you are active on LinkedIn, that headline follows you. And it really should, it shouldn’t be the default, which is just your job title and your company.
Rocky Dhir: Attorney.
Donna Serdula: Attorney, yeah, but it really should be who you are? How you help? What is that benefit statement? What is that you bring to others? And if you do it right, it should cause a person to go, hmm, that’s interesting, I want to read more about this person. Then they click to access the full profile.
After the headline that’s when we get into the good stuff, because that’s the summary, that’s your digital introduction, and then from below that, that’s where we go through that trajectory of experiences that does look like a résumé, but it doesn’t have to.
Rocky Dhir: So, how would it differ from a typical — so like, I’m looking on yours, you don’t have bullet points into your experience?
Donna Serdula: No. I’m not looking for a job. So, you always have to think in terms of, what is your goal.
Rocky Dhir: Okay.
Donna Serdula: Not everyone is on LinkedIn because they want a job, some people want clients, some people want to brand themselves, some people want to do it for reputation management.
Rocky Dhir: So like on here you’re putting, founder, owner and LinkedIn profile writer, so I guess that’s where you are telling people what you do?
Donna Serdula: Yeah.
Rocky Dhir: So, you don’t need bullet points.
Donna Serdula: Yeah. Right. And here’s the thing, with LinkedIn profile writer, those are the words a person would be searching for to find me.
Rocky Dhir: So, there is kind of an SEO component to that?
Donna Serdula: There is absolutely an SEO. So, if you want to be found, because here’s the thing, not everyone knows that you exist. I know you might think I don’t have a page.
Rocky Dhir: But I’m a big deal.
Donna Serdula: You are a big deal, but that’s the thing, if people are searching for a big deal, let’s make sure, we put that into your profile.
Rocky Dhir: I make sure that I show up. Big deal in there.
Donna Serdula: Yeah, we want them to make sure — so you have to be strategic. You know really know what your goal is. Not everyone is on LinkedIn for job search. If you’re on for job search, yes, it makes sense to have a more of a résumé component, but you still don’t want it to be your résumé, because what if a person is looking at you for a particular job opportunity? They love what they see on your profile. They love it so much, they say, I got to get this guy’s résumé, and then you give it to them and it’s identical to what they just read on the profile. They are going to be disappointed. They are going to think, that’s all he does.
So, you want these things to build, you want them to build, you don’t want it to be a direct copy. You want this to tell a story, get a person interested so they reach out to you. To me, success on LinkedIn is always getting off LinkedIn and making real-world connections.
Rocky Dhir: Okay, so if I was to read your profile as a story, what I’m looking at is you basically made the jump from being a salesperson into now effectively helping other people tell who they are; is that a fair adaptation or am I illiterate when it comes to the story reading?
Donna Serdula: No, that’s a very good one, but you’re also skipping over the summary —
Rocky Dhir: Ah, okay.
Donna Serdula: — which is a little bit higher up, and this is where the real story takes place.
Rocky Dhir: So yeah, like I said, I’m noticing the all caps, you are using the little images and bullet points. Now, for lawyers, I think for a lot of lawyers we would, as a community, kind of feel uncomfortable doing that.
Donna Serdula: Yeah. And here’s the thing, you need to be authentic and so when we work with our clients, it’s always about listening and talking and getting a sense of who you are, what is your tone, what are you comfortable saying and we work with you to develop that content in a manner that works for you. I actually even have two lawyers that are writers for me.
So, that’s nice to know that you can talk to someone who has done what you’ve done and they get you, but at the same time with LinkedIn a lot of people think, let me copy and paste a résumé, let me copy a bio, let me write in third-person, all of those things push people away, and this is your chance to make a first impression, a digital introduction, and really tell a person, because they are qualified already, they want to learn more about you, that’s why they are there. So, tell them something.
Rocky Dhir: As a profession, as lawyers, how do you think we stack up when it comes to the storytelling in the —
Donna Serdula: It’s hard, I know, and it’s just — it’s hard — I know it’s hard for almost everyone, really, but you have to ask yourself some hard questions and you really have to figure out why are you on LinkedIn? What are you trying to accomplish? Who is your target audience? What do they need to know about you, and what do you want to say? What is it that you offer? What separates you? That’s the story that we need to craft.
And I say, crafted in first person, crafted as a narrative, and tell them, speak very straightforward, this is what I do and this is how I help.
Rocky Dhir: So, for lawyers, do you think maybe we’re a little gun-shy about telling those stories and using those tools or —
Donna Serdula: I think there’s definitely this fear of how far can I go? What can I say? What’s allowed, what’s not allowed? What do people really care about, and you have to recognize that if a person is looking at you, if they want to work with you, if they want you to maybe take them on as a client, they want to know they are working with the best, they want to know they’re working with someone who gets them, who has a similarity, who resonates, and so, you’ve got to say something. Don’t say nothing, say something.
Rocky Dhir: But then does it change based on who your target client is, because — so for example, if I’m going to do plaintiff’s personal injury work versus if I want to represent large corporations in —
Donna Serdula: Yeah, and this is just definitely different.
Rocky Dhir: Right, and so, if it’s different, the way you tell that story does that — because I could see a lot of lawyers saying that, look, I’m trying to attract large business clients, and if they see the all caps and they see the emojis or whatever it is that we use to get their attention, they might get a different adverse reaction to that. What’s your advice when it comes to —
Donna Serdula: Yeah, I always say that you need to look and say, who’s this audience and let me tell the story to them, what do they need to know? You know the way I work it, I mean, if you do look at my profile, I don’t — the only things that are in uppercase are just the titles. I don’t want to give the impression that the profile looks like —
Rocky Dhir: No, it’s not screaming at you, yeah.
Donna Serdula: But, here’s the thing, it’s just hard, it’s hard to write about yourself, it’s hard to see yourself objectively, it’s hard to ask yourself the tough questions because there’s always something better going on, and that’s true for lawyers, it’s true for any professional out there. Who wants to sit down and really write about themselves? No one does.
But it’s important, because people want to know and you have the control, you can control how others perceive you, so you need to take this opportunity, you don’t want to let it slip away from you though, is someone looking for you, there are people who want to know more about you. So, you need to tell this story, but it’s hard to do so. I say, outsource it.
Rocky Dhir: Is the LinkedIn profile about who you are or is it who you want to be?
Donna Serdula: I always say that your résumé is your professional past, but your LinkedIn profile is your career future. It’s not just who you are now, but it needs to be written more to that future, that future state where you want to go, what you want to accomplish, how you can help people in the future.
Rocky Dhir: Okay, so if I said, I want to be a professional wrestler, and if you look at me, you know that’s never going to happen. Obviously, when you’re saying who you want to be, it has to be couched in reality, right? It has to be something that you didn’t achieve.
Donna Serdula: Yeah I did have a client once, Rocky, that he was working in IT, just doing like tech support and he came to me, he wanted to be a CEO, and he wanted us to write a profile that would get him, and I said, really, the only way that you’re going to be a CEO is if you start your own company. That’s it and he didn’t want to, he just thought that Apple — Steve Jobs had just died —
Rocky Dhir: There is an opening.
Donna Serdula: There is an opening.
Rocky Dhir: Sure.
Donna Serdula: There is this element of, yes, you have to be practical, you have to be realistic, but at the same time you could have that vision of, I want to be CEO, but what’s the next step to get you that much closer? So, you still want to be forward-oriented, future-oriented, but let’s just take it in steps.
Rocky Dhir: So, writing an effective LinkedIn profile is not sitting for two hours and carving out time on a Tuesday afternoon; it sounds like this is a –
Donna Serdula: It takes time.
Rocky Dhir: — process and you go back and you think what we are and –
Donna Serdula: Yeah, we start with a questionnaire that our clients fill out. From there I then read it through and I get them partnered with a writer that I feel is best suited to their background, to their needs, to their goals. So, it’s never the next writer, it’s the best writer for that client. And then they have a conversation and they talk, it’s an interview and it’s really about just diving in and getting that story from you, listening and asking the right questions and taking this information, and then turning it into that story, turning it into that trajectory, turning it into that message. And we do that for you. We do all of that for you. And then, once we have it written, we take it back to you and say, this is what we came up with, this is what we’ve created, this is the content and we review it and we edit it, we make sure it’s perfect and then it’s live.
And the funny thing is, Rocky, this might sound insane, but the one thing I found over and over and over again is when a person showcases their best, they attract the best. And my clients always come back and tell me their lives have changed, they get jobs, they get opportunities, they get clients, they get things they never thought that they were going to attract; but, when they start really telling their story authentically in a genuine way good things happen.
Rocky Dhir: Wow. Okay, so Donna, what’s the best way for somebody to get a hold of you, is it through LinkedIn or is there some other way?
Donna Serdula: As much as I love for people to reach out to me on LinkedIn and I’m there, the best thing is to visit my website LinkedIn–Makeover.com.
Rocky Dhir: LinkedIn–Makeover.com, it almost sounds like a reality show.
Donna Serdula: Yes, it could be. I’ve always often thought that the people that we deal with and the stories we hear would make a great TV show.
Rocky Dhir: Well, I guess if you combine it with an actual makeover.
Donna Serdula: Yeah, oh we should do – yeah, we should do a physical makeover too.
Rocky Dhir: Do a physical makeover and then do the headshot and then that’s the start of the whole process.
Donna Serdula: Yeah.
Rocky Dhir: Hey, I want in on the royalties with this one.
Donna Serdula: Let’s do it together, Rocky.
Rocky Dhir: Yeah, let’s do this.
Donna Serdula: I love it.
Rocky Dhir: And our listeners, they can get in too. They are like, look, I want a piece of the action.
Donna Serdula: Yeah, hey, they say, call me up, we need guerrilla makeovers right now.
Rocky Dhir: That’s right we could use SEO and then do an IPO, this is just —
Donna Serdula: I love it.
Rocky Dhir: — mind-blowingish. I’m telling you, this is good stuff. So, it’s LinkedIn-Makeover.com, and is there an email address, something they need to use?
Donna Serdula: Well, the nice thing is, once you’ll see a picture of me there’s a big green button, you click it, you see our services and there’s this huge Contact button, and I have my phone number all over, and people are always shocked and amazed that when they call I pick up, but I do, CEO and a receptionist.
Rocky Dhir: You never want to lose touch, right?
Donna Serdula: Exactly.
Rocky Dhir: Although, now you’re going to need to get a throne and a crown because you are now the —
Donna Serdula: I am the LinkedIn dancing queen.
Rocky Dhir: You keep throwing — you want to throw on the dancing part.
Donna Serdula: I love dancing, but I feel bad that I think we need a little bit more activity to go and put.
Rocky Dhir: Well, LinkedIn Queen kind of has that same rhythm –
Donna Serdula: It is the cadence.
Rocky Dhir: The cadence with dancing queen —
Donna Serdula: LinkedIn Queen.
Rocky Dhir: — but you could always redefine it, tell your story, you’re the LinkedIn Dancing Queen.
Donna Serdula: I’m the LinkedIn Queen, I’m the LinkedIn Dancing Queen.
Rocky Dhir: Oh, you are the Dancing LinkedIn Queen.
Donna Serdula: Dancing — well, there we go. Another reality show right there, I think.
Rocky Dhir: I am telling you, the networks will be contacting us or maybe it’s straight to Netflix, we don’t know.
Donna Serdula: You know what, I mean, if you’ve seen the Karate Kid of —
Rocky Dhir: I’ve not, I’ve missed it.
Donna Serdula: Oh, you’ve got — it’s pretty awesome. Actually that’s YouTube Red, I take that back.
Rocky Dhir: That’s YouTube Red, yeah.
Donna Serdula: Sorry, wrong platform.
Rocky Dhir: Well, what people can do is they can get on YouTube Red, watch Karate Kid, and then they can get on YouTube and look at the Texas Bar TV channel and they can see you in-person.
Donna Serdula: Perfect segue.
Rocky Dhir: And so they can learn more about Donna. So, Donna, thank you for coming.
Donna Serdula: Oh Rocky, thank you.
Rocky Dhir: This was a lot of fun. I know we could keep doing this. I could go on for hours and I’m sure you’ve got material that could keep us engaged for a very, very long time, but guys, we are at that time, it has been another fantastic edition of the State Bar of Texas Podcast in partnership with Legal Talk Network.
Donna, thank you again.
Donna Serdula: Thank you for having me. I appreciate it.
Rocky Dhir: Please having you. Want to thank Donna for joining us and if you like what you heard, be sure and subscribe. Get into Apple Podcasts, rate us and subscribe to our podcast channel, either on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, your favorite podcast app or go on to legaltalknetwork.com to learn more about us.
Now, guys, thank you for joining us for this fantastic ride; after all, life is a journey, thanks for tuning in.
Outro: If you’d like more information about today’s show please visit legaltalknetwork.com, go to texasbar.com/podcast, subscribe via Apple Podcasts and RSS. Find both the State Bar of Texas and Legal Talk Network on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, or download the free app from Legal Talk Network in Google Play and iTunes.
The views expressed by the participants of this program are their own and do not represent the views of nor are they endorsed by the State Bar of Texas, Legal Talk Network or their respective officers, directors, employees, agents, representatives, shareholders or subsidiaries. None of the content should be considered legal advice. As always consult a lawyer.
The State Bar of Texas Podcast invites thought leaders and innovators to share their insight and knowledge on what matters to legal professionals.
Wayne Schiess discusses his most recent book, “Legal Writing Nerd: Be One,” and give tips on what lawyers can incorporate to better their writing...
Mike Farris talks about his career as an entertainment lawyer and book author.
Rocky Dhir talks with Leah Teague, associate dean at Baylor University Law School, about leadership and the importance of attorneys taking on the role....
Rocky Dhir looks back at some key moments from the podcast throughout 2018.
Kendyl Hanks and Kristen Vander-Plas, two of the cofounders of @LadyLawyerDiary, discuss how their Twitter account has become a forum for women in the...
William Kruse and Shruti Krishnan talk about their experiences as in-house counsels.