Kathryn Nuñez left her career in sales during the pandemic to coach others on how to brand and market themselves on LinkedIn. In this interview with The Industry Leaders, Kathryn provides a tonne of helpful advice on personal branding and shares her insights on how to reach out to more people online.
Kathryn, from your LinkedIn profile I learned that you help 'service-based solopreneurs attract leads on autopilot'. I'm hoping that you can explain a little bit more about what that means and how you got to this point.
Absolutely. Thanks so much for having me. I'm excited to talk to you and the audience.
My story is that I've always been an entrepreneur, even as a young girl selling tootsie rolls door-to-door. I've always had something on the side, which was a blessing when the pandemic hit, as I had a consulting job to fall back on when my entire team was let go. Having always worked in sales, I was really emotionally tied to company culture and company success, so I was very happy when I left that company because I was finally able to start measuring my success by my own personal brand instead of that of a company’s.
I have this habit of rewriting my LinkedIn profile at night when I'm bored in bed, and one day I realised that people build businesses out of teaching people how to get visible online.
I have the gift of curiosity, and so I’m always asking questions and wanting to learn more about new things. I once helped a stranger plan their engagement proposal while sitting next to him on an aeroplane. We planned the whole thing together while we were in the sky, all through me being able to ask questions and be genuine and authentic with this person. I built that part of me up as a brand and as a business to help people understand who they are and what impression they give to others. That personal brand is something that corporate America cannot have. That is why I do what I do. I think it's so important for people to have clarity about who they are and what they stand for. It breeds confidence.
One of the things that we find a lot is that personal branding can be very polarising; why should people care about it?
You can leave a mark today through personal branding that might really affect your trajectory in the future, but at the same time, personal branding is flexible — it can and will change over time as you and your values change.
Maybe in the future, because you might be raising young kids, your family life, and protecting that family life, becomes super important to you. And then when those kids leave the nest, and you're all alone again, you might start to value travel and seeking out new experiences more.
Personal branding is also something that you can take with you as an employee. Understanding your values and protecting those boundaries are so important to your happiness in a corporation. Let me give you an example of that. Personally, I love wine — especially rosé, which reminds me of my days in Spain. And I also really love prosciutto. You can’t go to Spain without having some prosciutto with a glass of rosé!
When I was working in corporate, however, I was working for a Muslim company, and so I was forbidden to eat pork at any company events, order pizza with sausage for clients, or take barbecue to some medical offices that absolutely loved barbecue. And I also couldn’t drink alcohol anywhere near anything to do with the company or take clients out for cocktails. It was all so against the things that bring me joy, but the alternative was that I would have to sneak things and be secretive about them. And I knew that doing that would just create toxicity between that company's culture and mine.
That's why understanding your personal brand and understanding your values are important for a person, even as an employee. You don’t have to be an entrepreneur to have a personal brand. If you have a passion project — maybe something that you’re advocating for — then that is part of your personal brand. You can stand against animal cruelty, for example, or for diversity, equity and inclusion. If these things are important to you, but the company you work for doesn’t share these values, then maybe it’s not the right company for you. You could be so much happier someplace else.
You've built a big following on LinkedIn and it's growing rapidly, what do you credit that growth to?
I experiment with different types of posts, but in the end, it’s about how the algorithm picks it up. So it depends on how many people like or comment on your post within the first two hours of it being posted.
I've had a post that was picked up by accountants. Within a day, it had 15-20,000 views, and it was picked up by Ernst and Young. I don't even market to Ernst and Young, but somebody picked it up who must have shared it. It was an educational piece of content that I made a carousel post on. Those are performing really well right now. Polls are also performing really well right now, especially on mobile. Every time you open up your LinkedIn app, you’ll see a poll there.
My growth has happened by delivering that valuable content. I'm not selling. I'm not spamming people to ask if they want to set an appointment with me. I'm just delivering value and things that my audience can take and implement today, something they can do that's helpful for them. I love it. When I get a positive testimonial through a DM from someone who has benefited from my advice, it feels great.
We want to reward action takers. People are afraid to give away their secret sauce, but you should give it away and celebrate those people that actually are going to take action on what you're training. There's always going to be the people that can do it on their own; there's always going to be the people that always show up and they don't do anything, but there's also a sweet spot of those people that digest your information, reach out and ask you for help.
Staying in your lane and showing your subject matter expertise, and letting people know who you serve, what business problem you solve, and what the outcome is of working with you will tell people who you are. So when they have that problem, they'll raise their hand and they'll come to you. And then that will bring a steady stream of inbound leads for you on LinkedIn.
If you could talk to yourself from a year or two ago about the fears that you might have had about being on camera and sharing on social media, what would you say? Were any of those fears realised?
You're not making it until there is a troll out there that stalks you or says something hateful! I think I had a stalker on LinkedIn. He was threatening to publicly shame me if I unfriended him or disconnected from him. There are some crazy people out there.
But you have to just have fun with it. Instead of becoming anxious, you can use it to create excitement. You can reframe the situation and turn it into something that is palatable, so that you can use it to fuel you to go on to do more.
And you have a choice: every morning, you wake up and choose to be there. We all have choices to make every day at midnight. When the new day starts, it's a whole new slate. It's exciting.
What’s next for you in, say, the next 12 months? And how can people follow your work?
You can find me on LinkedIn by searching for Kathryn E. Nuñez. It's the same handle on all of my social media, which is something I would recommend all of my audience do for their social media channels. And my live show streams on Twitter, Twitch, YouTube, Facebook, and LinkedIn. So you can always find me on any of those sites.
What I'm working on now is really interesting. People are on LinkedIn to find other people and talk to them. So if you have your profile written in the third person, people probably aren’t going to reach out to you because they think that they're going to get your assistant instead of you. I’m always speaking about LinkedIn, how to use it, etc. — personal branding.
Not too long ago, I was taking people that I worked with straight into content creation, but I realised that I was leaving a gap in teaching them how to use LinkedIn before looking at creating content. So, right now, I'm working on a group training program for how to use Sales Navigator, because a lot of people that are subscribed to Sales Navigator don’t know how to use it properly.
When I’ve finished that, I'm going to be launching a group training program myself. It's going to be six weeks long and there will be live teaching; there are 15 people in this first program. And then I'll continue launching a new group program every month in 2022.
Check out Kathryn's full interview, here:
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