My name is Donna Serdula and I love helping people embrace technology and forge a strong personal brand.
I am the author of the books, LinkedIn Profile Optimization For Dummies and LinkedIn Makeover: Professional Secrets to a POWERFUL LinkedIn Profile.
In 2009, I forged my LinkedIn profile optimization methodology and started the very first LinkedIn profile optimization service. Because the concept didn’t exist before and so few people knew about LinkedIn, I had to utilize education as my main mode of marketing. I remember friends and family saying, “So Donna, I heard you wrote a book– Lincoln? I had no idea you had an interest in honest Abe.” Yeah, it wasn’t like it is now. Educating people on LinkedIn meant writing articles and getting in front of audiences. Back in those days, I would go anywhere and I recall very small audiences with questions ranging from, “So what is this darn Google thing my grandkids keep talking about?” to “You mean people not only want to write about what they had for lunch but people want to read it!?!”
Back in those early days, it was just me. I wrote every profile that came in, I worked from early morning to late into the night writing LinkedIn profiles for professionals, executives, and entrepreneurs all over the world.
In 2012, I realized that if I wanted to help as many people as possible but still live a life, I would need to expand my business and bring on writers to help with the workload. I reached out to two women that I knew and respected: Dionne Carrick and Audra Hammer Ross. I taught them everything I knew and soon, the three of us were writing profiles. It didn’t take long for us to add more writers… and more writers. We now have over 20 writers in our stable. We’ve written over 5,000 LinkedIn profiles… my bookkeeper Paul called me November 2018 to tell me that bit of news. We’ve also expanded our services to include so much more than just LinkedIn. We help people with career branding and we work with companies, helping them professionally brand their employees.
How I Became a LinkedIn Expert
I didn’t go to school with the desire to be a LinkedIn expert. And I certainly didn’t risk everything to just put out a shingle as a LinkedIn profile writer on a whim. It was over 10 years ago that I first realized the potential of LinkedIn. Back then I was heading up the Philadelphia office for a technology company. My days were spent filling my sales funnel through cold calling and trying to close business. My view of LinkedIn changed one late afternoon when I connected with a prospect after making my umpteenth phone call of the day. We had a great conversation and I was able to schedule a meeting. I remember excitedly hanging up the phone and immediately opening up Google to perform a search on my new prospect’s name. I wanted to learn as much about this person as possible.
As soon as I hit the Search button, a feeling of dread came over me. Somehow, I just knew that at this exact moment, my prospect was searching my name on Google, too!
What in the world would he find?
I immediately charted a new course of action and googled MY name. My LinkedIn profile was the only pertinent result in the small handful of sites that Google returned. I opened my LinkedIn profile and looked at it through the eyes of my potential client.
How would he react to it?
My LinkedIn profile was plagiarized from my resume. It was only half-completed. There wasn’t a single recommendation on it from a client. I wasn’t a member of any groups nor had I showed allegiance to any association. My Honors and Awards section was BLANK!
A sinking feeling came over me and I realized that my LinkedIn profile did not portray me as a top-notch professional. My LinkedIn profile did not sell my skills or show any differentiation between me and the millions of other LinkedIn users out there. My profile basically said, “This lady doesn’t have anything that sets her apart from the crowd.
At that moment I realized this issue needed to be rectified. My LinkedIn profile had to stand out from the crowd and sell me as a dynamic sales professional who naturally attracts clients and opportunities. Not knowing what made a profile great, I decided to research the best LinkedIn profiles to see what made them shine. I slowly began writing and rewriting my LinkedIn profile until I crafted something that was compelling to my readers, showcased my skills, and marketed me as an expert in my field.
Soon after performing my very own LinkedIn makeover, I started to notice that my meetings with prospects began going smoother. It was like they already knew me. Prior to the makeover, I had to work hard to build their confidence. After the makeover, my profile gave my prospects the information they needed to start forming a rapport with me before I even walked through the door. Additionally, recruiters started calling. Old colleagues and schoolmates began contacting me to reconnect.
LinkedIn suddenly started to make sense.
As my LinkedIn inbox began filling with requests to connect, I could not help but use it more. I quickly realized that I could get past the “gatekeeper” by sending InMails straight to decision-makers. It was easy to stay in touch with people I met at industry events simply by requesting to connect with them on LinkedIn afterwards. Before I knew it, I was throwing away business cards and keeping my rolodex of contacts on LinkedIn. By using LinkedIn, I became a sought after sales professional with a rapidly growing customer base.
In 2009, I decided to embark upon a dream: I broke away from the corporate world and started my own business, Vision Board Media. Our Website, LinkedIn-Makeover.com is the home of our LinkedIn profile writing services — but our name and company Website is Vision Board Media.
The Unfiltered Truth
A few years back, a person wrote to me and asked how she could become a LinkedIn expert and what books she should read. Here was my unfiltered answer:
[su_box title=”How to be a LinkedIn Expert” style=”glass”]Buy a house and drop every cent into it. Get fired. Get hired as a sales executive to develop a new territory. Find out that your competitor (who sells your exact software package) is entrenched and that you have to do everything possible to survive and pay your mortgage. Make 75 cold calls before noon every day. Start using LinkedIn to try to find ways to connect with more prospects and get past the gatekeeper. Close $1.5 million in business in a single month. Have your company raise your quota. Know that if you don’t close more business they will lay off not just you but your technical team, one of which just had a baby. Find yourself getting sick from the stress. Continue to use LinkedIn to find and close business and create strong relationships. Keep challenging yourself and aiming high. Get fired because boss figures he can cover Philly since it’s already developed… besides, Philly is closer to NYC than the DC territory. Lose commissions for month of December in which you closed 1/2 million in business, oh and it’s only December 8th. Your company’s CRM database is gone, thank goodness you still have your LinkedIn network.
Decide to start own business because the thought of working for someone else is repellent. Use your sales experience and grasp of technology to start a consulting business. Blog about LinkedIn for 2 years before actually making any real money from it. Spend every day on LinkedIn. Live it. Breath it. Use it to connect with people, add value, and find business. Spend every spare second you have writing a book about LinkedIn. Teach people from all over the world how to use it. Speak about LinkedIn to groups in which there is invariably one person who wants to challenge your knowledge. Learn how to get around every single one of their questions/objections/tirades, nicely.
Love every single second of it.
Well, that’s just my story. You can read books and watch videos. But in order to really become a LinkedIn expert, you gotta:
[su_list icon=”icon: check” icon_color=”#ed151e”]
- Spend the time learning how to use it.
- Read whatever you can get your hands on.
- Watch videos.
- Play with it. Experiment. You have to use it regularly. Use LinkedIn to research people. Get active in Groups. Post Status Updates. Comment on other peoples’ status updates. USE IT!
- You must find success with it
Know that what you are doing is resulting in success. And you have to love sharing your knowledge with others. Blog about it. Create Videos. Volunteer to help others.[/su_box]
Why I Speak
I haven’t always been a LinkedIn Expert but I’ve always loved technology. I started down the technology path early. In the early 80’s, my father purchased a Vic-20 computer followed by a Commodore 64 and an Amiga 2000. I was in elementary school playing with computers! In 1994, I went to college with my very own laptop– with a built-in trackball and a monochrome screen (varying shades of purple). I built my first Website in 1996 and in late-1998 I set up a blog. As the years passed, I utilized my knowledge of blogging and social networking as a sales professional. Just as I was trying to develop relationships with my prospects and customers on a personal level, I immediately recognized the potential of digital relationships as well.
Starting up my business, I knew there was one thing I didn’t want to do… COLD CALL!
In fact, I decided that rather than trying to sell anyone my services, I would instead offer opportunities to educate people. This is how I began speaking again. Again? Yes, you see, I’ve been speaking to groups since the beginning of my career. The audience has changed but the one thing that hasn’t changed is the concept of technology. Back in the 90′s, I was helping insurance agencies and collision centers embrace computerized estimating and then in the late 2000′s, I helped architects and engineers embrace computer-aided drafting (CAD), bi-directional associativity, and digital prototyping. Now, I help people embrace social media and professional branding!
I truly love speaking to groups. Nothing gives me greater satisfaction than watching the audience experience that AHA! moment where they suddenly gain clarity on a topic that had befuddled them. I strive to make my presentations exciting, fun and interactive! Your group will not only have a great time but will learn along the way!
My Professional History
I spent 13 years working in Corporate America. I am beyond grateful for having the good fortune to work for some amazing companies and learn from inspiring leaders.
Microdesk Account Executive
I worked for Microdesk for three years. I helped AECO firms in Eastern Pennsylvania (Philadelphia and surrounding areas), Southern New Jersey, and Delaware find the right software and training solutions for their design needs. I also crafted implementation plans and provided the resources that helped firms successfully and easily adopt their new design software.
CCC Information Services
I spent almost 10 years with CCC Information Services in a variety of different positions. In the very beginning I was a contracted trainer, later I became an Account Manager responsible for the Pennsylvania territory. A few years later saw me designing a CRM solution and after that, I created a Customer Care department. My last role was as a Sales Analyst. It was while I was a sales analyst that I realized how much I loved sales and I started wondering why was I spending my time analyzing the sale when I could be out there doing it! That’s when I changed directions and went back to being a salesperson again. Microdesk afforded me the chance to get back into sales.
Office Computer Concepts
After graduating from college in the mid-90′s. I formed a company that sold and installed hardware for area businesses. It was a great learning experience. Eventually, I had to close down shop because Dell and Gateway came along but I enjoyed it while it lasted.
I love helping people. I truly care about my customers. I strive to be the best at whatever I do and I have fun along the way.
Now that you know a little bit more about me, I’d love a chance to speak to you directly. Connect with me on LinkedIn and then, pick up the phone and call me. Please do not be shy. I am a real person & I welcome dialog! You can reach me at 215-839-0008. You can also reach me via email, text, WhatsApp… just click the Contact button at the top of this page.