October 29, 2017

JF1153: How To Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile #SkillsetSunday with Donna Serdula

In order to maintain your credibility while attracting people to your LinkedIn profile, you need to work hard on it. Donna and her team help executives and entrepreneurs properly brand themselves based on what their goals are. If you enjoyed today’s episode remember to subscribe in iTunes and leave us a review!

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Joe Fairless: Best Ever listeners, welcome to the best real estate investing advice ever show. I’m Joe Fairless, and this is the world’s longest-running daily real estate investing podcast. We only talk about the best advice ever, we don’t get into any fluff.

I hope you’re having a best ever weekend, and because it’s Sunday, we’re doing a special segment called Skillset Sunday; we’re gonna give you a skill so that you can go apply it in the real estate world. Today we’re gonna be talking about how to optimize your LinkedIn profile so that we can 1) maintain that credibility that we so deserve with all of our experience in real estate and 2) be able to expand our business via bringing on new investors when they do a search on us, or maybe even connecting with relevant business partners.

With us to talk about that is the owner of LinkedIn-Makeover.com, so clearly she’s focused on LinkedIn and having an optimized presence. How are you doing, Donna Serdula?

Donna Serdula: Hi, Joe. I’m doing great, thank you so much for having me on your podcast!

Joe Fairless: My pleasure, nice to have you on the show. A little bit about Donna – she is the author of LinkedIn Profile Optimization For Dummies. She’s based in Philly, Pennsylvania. With that being said, Donna, do you wanna give the Best Ever listeners a little bit more about your background and your focus?

Donna Serdula: Yeah, sure. My focus is really, really niche. What I mean by that is what we do is we help the executives, professionals, real estate developers from all over the world really brand themselves successfully on LinkedIn, through their LinkedIn profile.

Joe Fairless: What are some of the main categories or buckets of things that you do to help others brand themselves successfully on LinkedIn?

Donna Serdula: With LinkedIn I think what most people do, which it actually just sort of lends itself to it, but you get on LinkedIn, you look at this LinkedIn profile, and they just fill it out; they just answer the fields and that’s it. But what we do differently is we really look strategically at the person’s goals – why are you on LinkedIn? What are you really trying to achieve? What’s your goal? Because some people are on LinkedIn to get a job; others are on LinkedIn for prospecting and sales, and there’s others who are on it for reputation management, to be found, they wanna be seen as experts.

So it’s really important to figure out what are you trying to achieve, and only once we know that can we write a profile directly towards that goal, so you can find results.

Joe Fairless: Yup, gotta know your why, gotta know what your goal is, and then once you know your goal, then you can help write and customize that profile accordingly.

Prospecting and reputation management – because let’s assume the real estate investors here, we’re mainly entrepreneurs; we might have some Best Ever listeners who are investors but also have a full-time job. Let’s just not focus on that one, but we’ll focus on prospecting and reputation management. What do you do after you identify one of those two things as the client’s goal?

Donna Serdula: The first thing we do is we figure out the goal. Once we understand why they are on LinkedIn, at that point we need to then figure out who is the target audience. Who is going to be reading that LinkedIn profile? Because once you know who’s going to be reading it, who we need to target for, now we start to get the messaging… Now we know what we need to say, because it’s not just what we want to say about ourselves, it’s “What does our target audience need to know about us?”

Then the very last thing we do in the very beginning of all of this – so we know our goal, we know our target audience, and then we start to think in terms of our keywords. And Joe, the reason for that is LinkedIn is more than just a social network, it is a search engine, and people are on LinkedIn searching for you specifically, or they’re searching for someone like you; and if they don’t know your name, they’re putting keywords into LinkedIn, hoping to get close to this person that they’re targeting.

So by figuring out the person who’s searching for someone like you, what keywords they use, we make sure we sprinkle those keywords throughout your profile, and what that does is it bumps you up higher in the search and it gets you found more often.

Joe Fairless: I get – as I’m sure you do, and some of the Best Ever listeners… I don’t know how many LinkedIn friend requests I have pending, but I don’t accept it unless it’s a personal message or it’s someone I actually know. Now, if people are searching for me and they could be potential business partners, but I’m getting a lot of requests, is there a way that you would approach that practically speaking, so that maybe I’m able to filter and determine who I actually respond to and how I approach it?

Donna Serdula: Well, Joe, I think it helps to really understand when you’re on LinkedIn, are you on LinkedIn because you want to market very specifically to certain types of people, or do you wanna market more broadly, and do you wanna get found by people searching for someone like you? So if you wanna be very specific and you wanna have a very closed network, only connect with the people that you know and trust, there’s nothing wrong doing that.

But if you wanna be heard, if you wanna get people reaching out, people who are interested in learning more about you, and you wanna reach more people, then it actually behooves you to be a little bit more liberal in accepting those outside invitations. The reason I say that – this is something very few people know – is when a person is searching LinkedIn, and I’m not talking about a name search, I’m talking about a broad-based keyword search, they are only searching their LinkedIn network. And their LinkedIn network is their first-degree connections, their second-degree connections, their third-degree connections, and any group numbers that are in groups that they also belong to. That’s it. So if you wanna get found, or if you wanna find people, you need to be in as many networks as possible.

Joe Fairless: Third-degree connections – I’m sure you and I are connected in a third-degree. Isn’t that everyone? Aren’t we all connected at least on a third-degree?

Donna Serdula: You would think, but the truth of the matter is most people – and I would be curious in terms of your Best Ever listeners, how many people are in their first-degree network; most people have far less than 500 first-degree connections, and if you don’t have a lot of connections of the first-degree, then you have less second and less third.

The truth of the matter is LinkedIn just reached 500 million users, so the truth of the matter is there’s still a lot of people out there that are not part of your network.

Joe Fairless: Okay, got it.

Donna Serdula: The other thing to remember is let’s say a person is a third-degree; there’s not much you can do with them. You might be able to see their name, you might be able to view a little bit of their profile, but you really wanna concentrate on the first and second-degree connections. Those are the ones where you’re gonna see their name, you’re gonna see their full profile, and it’s your first-degree connections that you can actually reach out to and message.

Joe Fairless: And by the way, you and I are second-degree connections, but when I was in advertising I made it a focus to add every person I came across in business, with a personal note, and I sent them a note, so I have probably 1,500 connections… So that doesn’t surprise me. Plus, I’m sure we keep some of the same circle; it looks like we have 20 mutual connections.

Donna Serdula: Joe, do you wanna guess how many first-degree connections I have?

Joe Fairless: More than 1,500.

Donna Serdula: 30,000.

Joe Fairless: Wowsers! Yeah…

Donna Serdula: I wouldn’t recommend that to everyone. To me, it is a little crazy and I totally get that, but I want people to hear my message, I wanna be found, and I wanna find people. So by having such a strong network, it really helps me really use LinkedIn successfully.

Joe Fairless: Let’s talk about your profile. What keywords do you put in your profile?

Donna Serdula: Well, I want people to find me if they’re searching for “LinkedIn”, “LinkedIn profile writer”, “branding”, “social media” – those are the types of phrases that describe what I do, so those are the words that I sprinkled throughout my profile. But you want to always think in terms of your target audience, because sometimes your target audience describes you differently than you would describe yourself.

I think of a client that I had who is a CPA, and she just described herself as a CPA and that was it. But when we really started to delve in, we noticed that her clients weren’t calling her a CPA, they were calling her a bookkeeper, and an accountant, and a tax advisor. So you really have to say “Wait…” I know how I like to define myself, “brand strategist”, but not everyone would describe me in that way, so you wanna be very smart, very strategic.

Joe Fairless: Yeah, great point, thank you for sharing that. So besides keywords and also living in the other person’s shoes and knowing how they’re gonna describe me, not necessarily how I describe myself, what are some other tips that the Best Ever listeners can take away from this conversation so that they can go optimize their profile?

Donna Serdula: One of the first things I would say is concentrate on your search result listing, because that’s how a lot of people are going to find you the very first time. So they might search for you by name, and maybe there’s a lot of Joe Fairlesses out there, you never know. Or maybe they’re searching for “real estate investing advice”, so if they’re searching for those things, they’re going to come upon a slew of listings that match that query, so you wanna make sure that yours is really interesting and it’s sexy and it just engages and it compels the person to wanna click and open up the full profile. So in that regard, you wanna make sure you have a great-looking profile picture, you wanna make sure that you have a great headline – that’s like your tagline; it’s 120 characters and it really should contain more than what the default LinkedIn gives you, which is just your title and your current job company, which is boring. So you wanna infuse it with your keywords, you wanna really give a benefit statement.

With that, if you do those three things and you have that good profile picture, you have your name correctly inputted, not last name first, but the first name and then last name, and then you have a great headline, you’re gonna find that more people click and you’re gonna get more views just in that alone.

Joe Fairless: I have never done the headline before… I just searched “real estate investing advice”, and because obviously I’m in my own network, I came up first, which makes sense. But I only have “Host of the Best Real Estate Investing Advice Ever Show”, I don’t have anything else other than that. I don’t have the, as you said, benefit statement.

Donna Serdula: Yeah, so you wanna really think in term of how do you help people, but you also wanna think in terms of those keywords. Now, I will tell you, if you visit my website, LinkedIn-Makeover.com and you head over to the blog area, that’s where you can find my LinkedIn headline generator. It’s an app, it’s online, and I help you just create a really sexy, a really interesting headline. Just by answering a few questions, selecting a few keywords, it actually outputs a really awesome headline that you can immediately use and get more views to your profile.

Joe Fairless: Any other tips as it relates to optimizing our LinkedIn profile that we should talk about?

Donna Serdula: I think what most people do – and they do it because it’s easy, and they do it because they’re busy… And that is they look at their LinkedIn profile and they say “Well, it kind of looks like my resume; let me get out that old resume of mine, let me just copy and paste all those fields in there and I’ll be done with it.” But you’re on LinkedIn for other reasons; you’re not just on it for a job. But even if you’re on it for a job, let’s say a person finds you and they read that, and then they request your resume and see the exact same thing, they’re going to be disappointed.

So really look at your profile not as an online resume, which is just your professional past; look at it as your career future, look at it as a digital introduction, look at it as a first impression, and really write it like a narrative and just give that audience information that makes them respect you, that makes them feel impressed and makes them feel confident in who you are and what you bring to the table.

Joe Fairless: How many people are on LinkedIn, do you know?

Donna Serdula: Yeah, 500 million. It just hit that number, too.

Joe Fairless: Well, congratulations to the founders of LinkedIn. 500 million… And I’ve always found that LinkedIn, especially for my business where I partner with high net worth individuals and I put money in the deal, they put money in the deal and then we share in the profit, I found that LinkedIn is the best network to reach those individuals, especially compared to Facebook and other platforms.

Donna Serdula: Yeah, well they say with the demographics the average salary is over 100k for the users, which I think blows Twitter and Facebook out of the water.

Joe Fairless: Yeah, I agree. So this has been very practical, and I love the tips that we can then take from this conversation and go implement. Any parting thoughts or insights or advice, or have we pretty much covered it all?

Donna Serdula: I think when it comes to your LinkedIn profile, really recognize that people are doing their due diligence; they’re going to check you out. They wanna know who they’re going to be working with, and when they hit your LinkedIn profile, and often times that LinkedIn profile ranks very high for your name – LinkedIn has a lot of Google juice – so it’s one of the first things they’re going to find and they’re going to click on it, and you can shape how others perceive you by really carefully strategically wording that LinkedIn profile, uploading content, putting great stuff up there… You’re gonna find that good things happen.

Joe Fairless: Donna, where can the Best Ever listeners get in touch with you?

Donna Serdula: Visit my website, LinkedIn-Makeover.com, or head over to LinkedIn and become my 30,001…

Joe Fairless: And two! I’ve added you while we were talking… 30,002, yes.

Donna Serdula: Yes! So add me on LinkedIn, visit me over there, or head over to my website, LinkedIn-Makeover.com. I love to talk to people about their LinkedIn profile and help them really build a strong brand.

Joe Fairless: And I wasn’t giving myself enough credit… When I did the search “real estate investing advice” it shows how many connections I have, and I have 2,795, so not quite up your level, but almost double of what I thought I had.

Alright, Donna. Thank you for being on the show. This was, like I said earlier, a very practical conversation for the Best Ever listeners and myself on how to optimize our presence on LinkedIn, which will help generate business results.

One is we’ve gotta know what our goals are. Once we identified our goals – are we prospecting? Is it for reputation management? – then we need to know who our target audience is, who’s gonna be reading it, what type of messaging do we need to have… And then three, we need to be cognizant of the keywords that we want to sprinkle in the profile, knowing that LinkedIn is a search engine. And then some other tips that you had – have your profile be optimized from a profile picture standpoint, from a name and also from a headline. And then the tip that I really enjoyed is are we describing ourselves like our target audience would describe us when they search for us, or do we need to have a conversation with our target audience and hear how they would describe us or what they think our title is?

And then you used the example CPA versus tax advisor versus bookkeeper etc.

Thanks so much for being on the show, Donna. I hope you have a best ever day, and we’ll talk to you soon.

Donna Serdula: Thank you. Bye-bye!

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