Dubbed as the “LinkedIn Evangelist” and “Queen of LinkedIn” of the Philippines, Virginia Bautista has no doubt proven over and over again that LinkedIn is the most effective platform for business owners, employers, recruiters, employees and freelancers alike.
Her passion to educate more Filipinos on how they can leverage LinkedIn for their success is undeniable.
Who is Ms Virginia Bautista? What is she passionate about and what problems of today would she like to solve?
I’m a LinkedIn & personal brand strategist, a mom of 5 awesome kids, a teacher, a writer and a lifelong learner. I’m passionate about helping people accelerate their success by creating opportunities for themselves to advance their careers or grow their businesses. I help them do this through my training or consulting services that enable them to leverage LinkedIn marketing and personal branding in reaching their career or business goals.
Gone are the days when professionals have to rely on the companies they work for to provide them with opportunities. Not many companies do that. And whenever I hear people say that they are not given opportunities in the workplace, I want to tell them that it’s not going to happen. The only one who knows exactly what opportunities we need are us. We should invest in our own learning. We should learn to invest in ourselves. If we’re not fully invested in ourselves, how do we expect others, including the companies we work for, to invest in us?
We don’t want to come to a point when we become redundant in the company and we have no idea what to do next or we fall in the trap of choosing between staying or leaving. Unlike most professionals I’ve talked to, entrepreneurs and business owners understand the value of investing in their marketing efforts to generate business. However, they either have no idea how to use LinkedIn and how executive branding can help in reaching their business goals through LinkedIn.
So what problems do I solve?
For professionals. The “lack” of career opportunities. Getting stuck in a job they don’t like.
For consultants and freelancers. The lack of system in consistently getting leads or business opportunities that will help grow their practice or business.
For entrepreneurs and business owners. The inability to maximise LinkedIn’s full potential in helping them generate leads and win new clients.
What was your journey like to get where you are? Did you have any mentors? Who were they?
I was a college teacher for 11+ years. For 5+ years, I was Vice Chair at the Department of English & Communication. In 2008, I discovered freelance writing. Before then, I had no idea that writers could work online and get paid in dollars! And because I love writing and have enjoyed freelance writing, I decided to leave teaching.
So in 2010, I started to work from home as a lead copy editor and trainer in a company based in Singapore. With three kids then (now I have 5) and without any experience working full time from home, that decision was a risk for me.
In 2013, I started “exploring” my LinkedIn account. At the time, I had no idea how it worked. I thought it was a job portal. Then in January 2014, I realized it’s been working for me. I kept on experimenting and updating my profile until I was surprised with the messages I was receiving through my inbox.
Recruiters were inviting me to apply for jobs. Business owners were asking if I’d like to do freelance writing for them. It never happened to me before. How did these people find me? That was how I discovered the power of LinkedIn in 2014. There were lots of opportunities that came to me that helped me discover what else I could do aside from writing and editing.
In 2015, a Human Resource specialist contacted me and asked if I do business writing training. I haven’t done corporate training (except for conducting training for my fellow teachers back when I was at the academia), but I grabbed the opportunity. That was how I discovered I could do corporate training.
In 2016, a company that found me through LinkedIn offered a full-time, six-figure freelance job to me. I wasn’t really looking for a job at the time, but I grabbed that opportunity to earn six figures a month.
A few months later, in May 2017, the game changer came. Through LinkedIn, a Forbes contributor found me and invited me to collaborate with him in an article for Forbes, which came out in May 1, 2017. We worked on a 2nd Forbes article which was published on July 10, 2017. The Forbes features led to a lot of other opportunities, including landing my first local and international clients for my LinkedIn training and consulting services.
On your question about mentors — I can’t recall having a mentor, but I have had a lot of virtual mentors. They had no idea, probably, that they were not only my inspiration but also the keys to taking my old self to the person I am today.
Those thinkers and authors include Jack Canfield, Napoleon Hill, Seth Godin, Dr. Robert Cialdini, Michael Masterson, Dorie Clark and Benjamin Hardy. I followed their work, listened to their podcast interviews, read their books, listened to their audiobooks, subscribed to their email lists and followed them on social media. My biggest influence are the lessons and ideas I learned from Dorie Clark, Jack Canfield and Seth Godin.
Tell us more about VB Consulting. Describe that a-ha moment when you knew your venture might actually become a success.
In January 2017, VB Consulting was just a dream. I didn’t even have a name for it. I just thought I wanted to have my own consulting agency. My idea was to stop being an employee. I wanted to be my own boss, and I believed so much that I could do it.
That a-ha moment came when I received so many messages through LinkedIn from people who found me through the Forbes features. They sought help regarding their LinkedIn profiles and personal branding and then they asked me how I could help them. Apparently, they wanted to sign up for my services — which, ironically, I didn’t have at the time.
At first, I was just helping them literally. I spent a lot of time helping a lot of them for free. And then, I realised, I can’t do this all the time because I also have to work and earn for my family.
So in August 2017, I created a LinkedIn company page just to say that I offer LinkedIn services. I didn’t have the time to even think about the name because things happened so fast. So I just came up with VB Consulting.
What was the best advice that you received in terms of career and business?
Let me answer that with one of my favorite quotes from Dorie Clark:
“In today’s competitive economy, it’s not enough to simply do your job well. Developing a reputation as an expert in your field attracts people who want to hire you, do business with you and your company, and spread your ideas. It’s the ultimate form of career insurance.” ― Dorie Clark, Stand Out: How to Find Your Breakthrough Idea and Build a Following Around It.
I am convinced 100% that every job is temporary. I’ve seen chief executives become redundant. I’ve seen presidents in organisations get fired. I was once in a dead-end in my career. I was supposed to be growing as a college teacher, but I wasn’t, or at least not the way I wanted to.
I know that Filipinos are hard-working individuals. In general, they feel that working hard will guarantee them a job forever or a job that will make them truly happy. Then they soon find out that they’re wrong.
Those days of job security or tenure are long gone. Every job is temporary – through my LinkedIn journey, I found a solution to this problem. And that is by using LinkedIn to attract career or business opportunities.
That is why now, I help professionals build powerful personal brands that they can rely on when they feel like they would soon become redundant, when they are no longer happy with their jobs, when they have changed their minds about what they want to do in their careers. The options for us are endless. The opportunities are unlimited. But for most people, these opportunities, these options are next to impossible.
And that’s because all they do is to work hard, stay silent about how hard they work and work hard again the next day. They don’t exert effort in defining clearly and communicating their value to the company, to their respective department, to the society.
So when they feel stuck, they blame the company for not providing them with opportunities. But the truth is, they are the ones who deprived themselves of amazing opportunities by choosing to stay silent about their gifts, their talent.
Now, what advice can you give to those who are just starting out?
Three pieces of advice.
Be clear about who you are and why you do what you do. What are your values, passions, strengths and weaknesses? What is your why? Don’t copy your neighbour’s, your sister’s or your parent’s answer. Just be true to yourself. Who you are and your why will help build the foundation that will help you create your own path to success.
Invest in your future self. When you invest in your future self, you’re investing in your dreams. It’s not an expense. It’s an investment. Investments have returns ― not necessarily on your pocket, but on your self-confidence, which is the key to your success. Don’t wait for the right time. The right time to build your future is now. Act when you are inspired. The opportunities are waiting for you.
Also remember this. With or without you, there will be opportunities out there. If you’re not investing in yourself, you won’t get those opportunities. And without opportunities, your dreams will die.
Define and communicate your value. It doesn’t mean you have to brag. No, that’s not what I mean by communicating your value. Unless you are clear about your strengths and weaknesses, there’s no way you can clearly communicate your value. And how do you do this? Show others what you can do by helping, providing value. Your value isn’t what you say it is. Your value is the impact you have on society, in the workplace, at home or in your industry.
When it’s all over, how would you like to be remembered?
I haven’t thought of this. Much of what I do is building relationships with people and helping them create opportunities for themselves whether they would hire me to do it for them or not. And I just want to be remembered as who I am as a person. Nothing fancy.