Yai Vargas is a multicultural marketing expert, LinkedIn networking ninja and founder of Latinista, a group of Latina professionals committed to professional growth in and outside of the corporate board room. Vargas has built an audience of upwardly mobile women who seek community just as much as they seek the latest tips for building their resume. Here, she shares her perspective and tips for managing your professional brand in the online world.
HL: Which social platforms have been the most helpful with building your brand?
YV: The tool that’s been most helpful and efficient for me in building my professional brand has by far been LinkedIn.
Early on in my career I started using LinkedIn to stay connected with all of the professionals I was meeting and networking with. I studied marketing and communications and was working with a lot of journalists, event planners, and vendors and I knew I needed a smarter more professional way to keep track of them rather than on my phone. I also use Facebook where I manage two profiles, a personal and professional one.
HL: What kind of opportunities have you received as the result of your social media presence and engagement?
YV: Aside from getting to e-meet people from all walks of life on LinkedIn, I’ve been able to make connections with wonderful organizations that fly me out to their locations to speak on panels such as the Silicon Valley Latino Leadership Summit by Frank Carbajal. I have participated in virtual summits like ‘Rise Up Latino Professionals’ by Jesse Mejia and been featured on radio programs like ‘Blog Talk Radio’ by Rod Colon.
I have also been featured in Latino Leaders Magazine on my marketing accomplishments and one of the most significant opportunities is having been a featured author in Today’s Inspired Latina volume 2 published by Jacqueline Camacho Ruiz. Thanks to LinkedIn, I have also been featured in YouTube channels, Chambers of Commerce and newspapers. I’d say investing as much time as I do on the platform surely has paid off.
HL: What strategies have been the most effective for you in building an audience?
YV: Walking the walk and talking the talk – as they say. By walking, I mean meeting in person and by talking, I mean asking them what I can do to help them in their mission. I don’t just want to know a lot of people as acquaintances online. It’s brought me much value to be able to actually know someone before I refer them to someone else.
It’s important that whenever I come up in conversations throughout other networking circles, my peers really know me and can vouch for me and my mission. In return for making the time to get to know most people I connect with, it builds my audience and that’s valuable to me.
The other way I build an audience is searching for community leaders that are doing similar work but in other networks. I don’t just stay in my Latina world. I connect with diverse professionals with other backgrounds and experiences than me. Going outside of your comfort zone is how you’ll develop a more meaningful audience and following.
HL: What advice would you give someone who is looking to build their professional brand on social media?
YV: Strategize and build a mini-marketing plan before you start. It’s so important to build your foundational details before jumping in and creating things as you go. You need to pick a font, color, calendar of communications, photo preferences, logo types, hashtags and more because consistency and strategy is everything!
HL: With two profiles, how do you manage your online presence?
YV: This might seem like the old fashioned way, but I’ve got a checklist of action items for every activation I do. It includes which platforms I’m posting to and communication verticals. I’ve used Buffer.com before as well to make my message postings more effective.
HL: You are building an amazing brand with The Latinista. Tell us about it and how social media has been instrumental in it’s growth and visibility.
YV: The Latinista has grown into a network of Latina professionals beyond my wildest dreams. It all started in 2012 with the social media platform Meetup.com. I was looking for a more effective way to bring together a network of women interested in professional development. I find that Meetup is social media 2.0 because it not only builds community; but it brings them together for experiences.
Social media has made the brand and its mission more accessible to people all over the world. In addition to making it more accessible to women professionals, social media has given us more opportunity for engagement. It’s no surprise that brands these days depend heavily on social media to grow, but making sure you cover all the platforms available can be challenging.
My strategy with social media is a holistic one. I make sure that all of the content published can stand alone but shares the same vision and always connects back to the core which is professional development workshops for women and Latinas.
HL: What can we expect to see from your online brand in the next few months?
YV: Our community has a strong voice and also some strong opinions – I want to be able to give the members a space where they can engage with others that think alike and even challenge their experiences. I will be working with our content strategist for more relevant content and resources and I will also be adding some empowering testimonials from recent workshops.
You can check out Yai and the Latinistas at by swinging by her Instagram account and saying HOLA!