Get To Know Virginia Bautista, Asia’s Top LinkedIn Evangelist

Share with us about VB Consulting and your role in the organisation, as if we are a 7-year young kid.

VB Consulting helps people reach their dreams and become whoever they want to be in the future. If, for example, you work with me, I’ll teach you how to find the people who need your help and how those people can also find you. Remember that nobody becomes successful without help from others. And I can connect you with those people who could hold the key to reaching your dreams.”

There’s a war out there as brands are struggling hard to acquire attention from the market. How do you plan to rise above the noise this year?

I’m so grateful that my LinkedIn presence has helped me find my voice, have clarity on my niche and gain some followers who find my content useful.

This year, I’ll continue to maximize the use of LinkedIn to create more awareness on the huge benefits of using this platform the right way. I’m hoping to bring more Filipinos to LinkedIn, especially those who find it hard to stand out in their workplace, those who want to reinvent their careers and those who would like to build their influence online.

I’ll also be extending my presence to other platforms including my own website and through emails for a more personalized communication with my audience. And finally, I’m collaborating with professionals from other industries in creating articles that are more highly targeted to get the best results and to help as many people as possible. Although LinkedIn has features that anyone could benefit from, the strategies vary depending on one’s industry and purpose.

Where do you see personal branding industry is heading to in the next 5 years?

Personal branding will be a convergence between people’s personal stories and their professional brands.

People will realize that personal branding is not about us being a ‘brand,’ but about us being a ‘person.’ It’s already happening on LinkedIn. People who tell their stories, their struggles, their failures and how they survive, thrive and overcome challenges are getting a lot of traction.

LinkedIn members are there to be successful—whichever way they define success. And seeing other members talk about how they succeeded in overcoming challenges can inspire those who are on their own journey to success.

These personal stories that we can carefully weave through our professional brands make us unique, and when we’re the only one with that “convergence” between our personal and professional stories, we’ll STAND OUT.

Here’s a sample post that garnered a lot of traction on LinkedIn, yet the post touches on the person’s personal story and how he deconstructs some people’s notion about ‘mental health.’

Personal branding will become a must-have strategy for any company wanting to break through the noise in the market.

Small businesses will discover that the shortest route to brand awareness that generates potential customers is by encouraging its people to develop strong personal brands through social media.

I love what author and social media keynote speaker and consultant Mark W. Schaefer said,

Personal branding may be the salvation of corporate marketing.”

On LinkedIn, for example, it’s very hard to cut through the noise using only company pages. Very few companies are able to do this. People usually don’t engage with companies. People engage with people—especially those who share their stories that resonate with other LinkedIn members and that encourage them to aspire and achieve their own goals. LinkedIn success is anchored on how well we embrace human-to-human interaction. And that’s the essence of personal branding in the context of corporate branding.

Why do you have significant faith that LinkedIn can really help individuals and organisations to be more out there, winning hearts and eventually deals?

Because of LinkedIn, I was able to successfully reinvent my career from a college professor, to a freelance writer and editor, and now as owner of VB Consulting and the first LinkedIn trainer and consultant based in the Philippines. These did not happen by accident. All of these were made possible by my presence on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn provides the right tools to help us build our brands, connect with the right people, tell our stories, upgrade our skills and position ourselves in the industry or in the market.

A lot of people don’t maximize the use of LinkedIn. Those who do are getting something out of it—could be a business partnership, professional relationship, career opportunities, prospective customers or referrals, etc.

With the right tools and the right mindset, you can be found for your skills, be remembered for your stories and be recognized for what you stand for.

If you want to win hearts and build businesses, people have to know, like and trust you. And that’s the essence of leveraging LinkedIn for success. 

To support LinkedIn activities, which part of other marketing elements in your opinion can contribute effectively towards achieving your objectives, is it better content, guest blogging, more creative social media play, traditional marketing, networking events, partnerships or other specific channels?

Success on LinkedIn is anchored on three pillars: personal branding, content marketing and social selling. I’m using all of these three to achieve my goals.

Personal branding – To further strengthen my personal brand, I’m partnering with reputable local companies, universities and professionals from various industries. This will enable me to help more people discover what they can do with LinkedIn and will help me grow my LinkedIn training services.

Content marketing – Consistently publishing content and guest blogging would help tremendously. Writing is easy for me since I’ve been doing this for over 20 years. However, writing consistently is another thing.

Social Selling – Relationship-building is a huge part of LinkedIn success. Networking events like #LinkedInLocal meetups are very helpful in gaining more reach and engagement, which help in lead generation. And I’m looking forward to organizing more #LinkedInLocal meetups in our area.              

Besides your LinkedIn play, pick another one out of these social channels that can help bringing VB Consulting closer to achieving your annual revenue this year: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat or Instagram?

Facebook.

Why this platform?

Although my client base comprises mostly global clients, I also see the potential of targeting the local market. Right now, however, very few Filipinos are aware of what LinkedIn is compared with Facebook. Based on the data from We Are Social, around 67 million Filipinos—which is over half of the population—are on Facebook. On LinkedIn, only around 5 million are from the Philippines. So, to reach the local market, I have to go where they are—on Facebook groups. And of course, the goal is to get them onboard with me on LinkedIn and use this platform for career or business success.

 How do you see traditional marketing role in contributing to your marketing goals this year?

My target clients are active digital media users, so for this year, I’m not keen on pursuing traditional marketing.

How about PR?

PR remains a great method for creating brand awareness. For VB Consulting, building relationships with the local media is a must this year. I hope to see local media practitioners using LinkedIn the way Kristie Lu Stout of CNN does it. So far, all the publicity and online media exposure I got were because of my LinkedIn presence.

Your wish list for marketing this year would be? Share with us your top 5.

I want to fully optimize my website to grow my business, to begin leveraging email marketing, to collaborate with other LinkedIn experts from Asia, particularly Southeast Asia, to help more Asian professionals use LinkedIn for success, to collaborate or build relationships with the local media to spread awareness on LinkedIn in the Philippines and last but not least to hold #LinkedInLocal meetups regularly  

The best way to contact you?

Connect with me on LinkedIn here; https://www.linkedin.com/in/virginiabautista/.

Anything you wish to share to the readers?

Unlike what most people believe, LinkedIn is more than just a job search tool. LinkedIn is a tool for career and business success. However, it’s not for everyone. If you’re looking for instant success, LinkedIn isn’t for you. If you’re not willing to build relationships, LinkedIn isn’t for you. If you would rather do the hard sell than provide value to others, LinkedIn isn’t for you.

Just like with any tool, if you don’t use LinkedIn the right way according to your unique needs, it won’t give you the right results. So before you join the millions of professionals on LinkedIn, ask yourself, “Is this the right platform for me?” If yes, then go ahead and make LinkedIn work for you!