Everybody is thinking it, but nobody is talking about it

Nadja Komnenic

Do you ever get nervous about what you can and can’t say on social media? Nadja Komnenic, Head of Business Development at Lemlist, talks all about how to build your personal brand on social media.

Being vulnerable can be scary, but she gives you great tips to get started and how it’s all about building relationships.

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Greg Reffner 0:00

Hi everybody, this is Greg rafter with the Abstrakt Podkast. And we have Nadja Komnenic. I hope I pronounced that correctly. Head of Business Development at Lemlist joining us today Nadja you please say hi.

Nadja Komnenic  0:16  

Hi, Greg, thank you so much for having me on. So today really lovely to be talking to you.

Greg Reffner  0:22  

Well, we’re excited to chat with you. This podcast, the genesis of this podcast kind of was a result of a couple of conversations that we had really the last one, when we were starting to talk about like social media. And you’ve had, you’ve seen your kind of personal brand grow just exponentially over the past year. And we’re kind of talking about different posts and how you sometimes analyze hosts for a while before you actually push them out. And it’s all kind of part of social selling and kind of progressing your career. And the question kind of popped up in my mind of how do you go about being authentic and true to yourself, while also taking into account things like social topics, economic topics, being politically correct, like there’s a lot of things that I often don’t post because I think it might ruffle some feathers the wrong way. And so we’re going to kind of dive into how you go about formulating the topics you want to write about. And then kind of curating that content in a way that doesn’t take away from who you are, but also takes those things into consideration. So yeah, that was a long winded way of saying we’re going to talk about how to post on social media without blowing up your career. So I love the topic,

Nadja Komnenic  1:58  

obviously, like, when we start talking about this, I cannot say that I’m an expert in this. Obviously, this is a very like topic that is tricky to address. And even like right now, us talking on this podcast kind of makes me nervous in terms of, can I say these things? Can I not say these things? Like what is politically correct? Can I be open Am I being too open. And this is what we’re seeing. Also, when we’re posting on LinkedIn or any other social media, I would say that, as we’ve talked about before, like in our recent chats right now, like it’s very hard to be authentic and vulnerable, and really, like go speak up and like be open about the topics that you want to address without stepping on somebody’s toes. I think that, obviously, people are very sensitive today, which is obviously for good reason, when historically, like what’s been happening. These topics right now are really hot topics. And we kind of want to address them, but we are scared how to address them. Everybody is thinking it, but nobody is talking about it.

To go back to like to the initial quiet part of your question, which is like how to be authentic and vulnerable. When I started, like posting on my LinkedIn, in the first place, and I started building my brand, I was kind of following what everybody else was doing. So I was really like copy pasting my, like in my posts, you weren’t really able to kind of figure out my personality, my point of view, my, in general, my way of thinking about certain topics. And it’s what everybody else is seeing on LinkedIn. So once I’ve started kind of started bringing in my own authenticity, my own vulnerability, and actually speaking up about the topics that matter to me, in my own perspective, that’s when I started seeing a lot more traction on the other side, and like getting ready to build relationships with people who are having the same visions. So having this authenticity and vulnerability in your approach is really essential when you’re actually building your brand. However, when it comes to actually doing it, and how you do it, it’s a different topic, because definitely you need to be careful about what you post. So what I would say is definitely first, like when it comes to your company that you’re working for, make sure that whatever you’re posting is aligned with your company values. So really be aware of that you’re not, you know, let’s say maybe your startup that you’re working for is really hostile culture based, you speaking about against hostile culture in the first place is definitely not something that would be seen as a good thing in your company’s eyes. So obviously, make sure that your approach are aligned with your company’s values. 

If what you’re thinking and having in mind and your original voice is not aligned with your company’s values, again, I think that’s the topic and issue that you have in whether you’re working for a proper organization in the first place. Yeah. So on the company side, I think as long as you’re kind of being aligned with with the core values and kind of avoiding some topics that you might have discussed previously with your marketing manager or CEO and they’ve told you keep stay away from these topics. It’s a good question to ask actually, if you’re building your brand, talk to your CEO, talk to your CMO, talk to the people and ask what is the topic that you should? What are the topics that you should avoid. And then when it comes like I’m very huge woman empowerment advocates. 

So like I’m constantly talking about like, women rights, women in business, etc. And right now me is the woman who wants to talk about women empowerment, and women in business, I myself, find myself oftentimes writing my LinkedIn posts, and re editing them like 10 times, simply because I’m afraid that women actually will take it in a wrong way. So when you’re actually writing these posts, really take a look at every single word that you’re writing, I know that it is not something that we love to do. But try to think from a different perspective, how it can be heard, how it can be perceived, and try to really make it as direct in a way that what your opinions are, and try to stay kind of a three times think about how it can be perceived and heard. And if there is any objections that come to your mind. 

Okay, they might think this, they might think this addressed those objections and tell them like, Okay, you might be thinking, That’s right now, what I’m meeting is this and this and this, I’m not. So really like getting that objection out of the way I think, in the first place is really essential when you’re writing even longer answer to your long question.

Greg Reffner  6:30  

So let’s talk about that a little bit. Because I often find myself, like, there’ll be things that I want to write, and I know it’s not gonna go over well, like, some of the topics, some of the things that I want to get out that I just kind of think about writing, I’m like, Nope, just not even gonna bother writing that because it’s a, it could hurt our brand abstract brand, it’s probably going to ruffle some feathers, and some people are probably gonna be pissed off at me. So in that case, how do I go about like, because I’m not good at posting on social, like, I don’t have an Instagram, I don’t have a Facebook, don’t have a twitter, on Snapchat, like I have LinkedIn. And like, it takes a lot for me to want to post. Because I feel like I can’t be authentic. So how do I balance that? Like, what what steps do I take to start to kind of progress down that road?

Nadja Komnenic  7:28  

I would say that the biggest thing that for me, as well, I was in a spot where I was afraid to post anything, not because I was thinking that it would ruffle some feathers, it was more that I was afraid just to kind of be out there and like post anything. But the biggest thing that has changed for me is the mindset in terms of is this the topic that if I address it, and I talk about it openly, will actually make an impact on the world or on the people that are going through the same things. So oftentimes, I was finding myself like maybe this is not, for example, right now, I made a post about companies that are hiring woman. And they’re insisting to hire women leaders. And I’ve got started receiving questions from young women that were complaining basically about being afraid that they’re just being hired for the fact that there are women. And this might be a post that I would kind of typically stay away from because you’re, you know, attacking HR, you’re addressing the topic, there is a bit not clear at the end of the day. But my motivation for actually posting at the end of the day is I want I knew that there are a lot of women out there that are facing the same pains, nobody’s talking about it. And we need to talk about it. Because if we don’t talk about it, it’s always going to be this stigma around it, and somebody needs to start. Sometimes even negative publicity is good publicity, because you will attract people who are aligned with what you’re thinking, and those who are not. I mean, do you really even care? And do you want them as customers at the end of the day. And when they actually start commenting and bringing up their own opinions, you still have a chance to justify your way of thinking in the comments. So it’s not gonna be like, you’re done, you posted and then like, whatever they will just take, take it wherever they want to go. You can always address the questions in the comments and like, further explain your point of view and healthy discussion today.

Greg Reffner 9:25  

So let’s back up a little bit, what was what was the catalyst where they kind of got you in this, this mindset of wanting to, to engage on social and build a brand in the first place? I talked with a lot of people who want to do it, but they often maybe like, they need that final push or that nudge to actually go and do it. So what was that for you?

Nadja Komnenic  9:50  

For me? It was to two reasons. One of the reasons first reason was actually my CEO who has built the company from rungs up, literally through brand. And that’s how we grow so fast. So when when he hired me, it was one of the things that he kind of mentioned, okay, we want to start building your personal brand, etc, which was kind of a task rather than, like a motivation. But my motivation itself came from the fact that I come from Serbia originally. And I was addressing US market, where I don’t have like ability to just go in the networking events, meet people and actually get to know people out there. So my only way to actually become visible in their eyes was actually to build my brand. So my motivation in this case was obviously like me wanting to go out there and like, be present in this scene as well. But also, on the other side, like be an example and a role model for people that come from different backgrounds that are also like not present in their target territory, and inspire them to follow that lead as well. Because I do believe that this is the strongest, strongest thing that you can do if you’re actually looking to go international and actually be seen and heard.

Greg Reffner  11:05  

Okay, interesting. Okay. So it was kind of like, you’re nudged by your boss, to go and kind of build that brand. And you recognize that you are going to have some challenges that maybe a SDR here in the United States wouldn’t have. Just because you’re, you know, halfway around the world. Have you seen an impact on your success by investing in building your personal brand,

Nadja Komnenic  11:33  

I would say that the biggest impact anything has had on my career was actually this, not only in terms of it, and I would say that it’s not only for people coming from different backgrounds. So like, even as they are in us right now, just imagine how many STRS exist on the world, for you to be able to differentiate yourself, you need to be different in some way, when you’re reaching out to your prospects, they will get your personality from your LinkedIn even before they jump on them and with you. So the impact that it has has is not only through sales, so obviously, I was able to generate a bunch of sales and revenue for the company. But also my network right now is so extensive, that I’m able to first get mentors at any point, I’m able to network with people get advice, job offers, I’m not even looking for they’re coming to me every single day. So like you’re getting this inbound of job offers of leads of networking opportunities of anything that you can possibly imagine. And at the end of the day, you will not have to have a CV ever again in your life. You will have your profile, your LinkedIn profile, and obviously opportunities to speak with you on the podcast today in all the other events and webinars. I ended up like speaking on the biggest conferences in sales in us even though I come from a completely different background. I’m not they’re still on the one being invited because of my brand in the day. Everybody is thinking it, but nobody is talking about it.

Greg Reffner  12:59  

That’s awesome. That’s awesome. All right. So let’s do some some tactical exercises where we leave our listeners with maybe two or three things that they can go and actually kind of do as a way to start kind of putting themselves out there. So let’s say I have something that I want to talk about. I don’t know let’s let’s what’s an NP? What’s a what’s a touchy fiery subject right now that we could use as an example?

Nadja Komnenic  13:35  

We could get an as an example this what do we mentioned about like hiring women leaders?

Greg Reffner  13:40  

Okay, perfect. Let’s use that as an example. I’ve often thought that like our women going to be see that as the only reason I was hired is because I’m a woman. And does that devalue what I bring to the table? If I’m a woman, I’m only hired because I’m a woman? How do you go about formulating that post?

Nadja Komnenic  14:06  

So before you even go in, right, the post itself is not just about bringing up the problem. I think at the end of the day, you’re the goal of the post is to get something actionable out of that. So like, it’s not about like addressing, okay, there is this problem that we’re seeing, and that’s where you stop. It’s about what do you see as a solution? Or what is your opinion on that? Or what is your approach to the topic itself? What is the next step? What is the call to action? What is the takeaway from that post? And when you have that idea, okay, for example, in my scenario here, my advice was for a woman to accept those roles, and then prove in the job itself that what they bring in is not just the diversity into the company, is that their Kevin skills and that’s how we can change the world long term. So, like it started with a problem, I addressed the issue that is facing and Then I’ve given my insight and the call to action, or the actionable tip at the end of the day. And this is where I see the problems with most posts on LinkedIn is that people just talk about problems, but there is no actionable thing behind it or any original idea or anything that you can actually take out of that post.

Greg Reffner 15:19  

There’s no call to action or like, here’s how to solve that type of thing.

Nadja Komnenic  15:23  

Like your ad ID. And before you even start writing, you need to kind of have in mind, what do I want people after reading my posts to walk away from? Like, what is the vibe? What is the message that I want them to walk away after reading the post itself?

Greg Reffner  15:41  

Okay, so I’m gonna play devil’s advocate here, okay, you have a man and a woman. You’re trying to hire more women for diversity, the man is exponentially more qualified than the woman is. You still hire the woman, just to bring in that layer of diversity?

Nadja Komnenic 16:04  

I would say that that would be the disadvantage to both parties. So like both to the woman that did a woman that was hired, and will never no matter right now look, deliver of skills, she will always perceived as, yeah, she’s good. But he could have done a better job. And on the other side, like always to the person that was more qualified but wasn’t hired. So I do think that obviously, recruiters have a very hard job today, because they need to balance this out. I’m not saying like I have a solution for that. I’m just saying that when actually hiring, you need to obviously take take into account the the skills and qualifications and not only the, the gender of the person that you’re hiring.

Greg Reffner 16:47  

So this is why don’t post stuff because like, there’s no, there’s no right answer to that, like both answers suck.

Nadja Komnenic 16:56  

The post itself that you could write is like, if you have this topic, and you don’t have an answer is to ask the question and start the discussion itself. Because they do feel that the posts that are actually more driving into the health discussions are more beneficial than just like statements. And including recruiters tagging recruiters, they’re actually facing this and asking for their opinion on this topic is what will actually matter. So like, for example, right now, you’re probably hiring, you might be thinking, Okay, guys, I have no idea what to do, because I need to hire. Right now in my team, I want to hire woman I want to be like open to, to be to have a diverse team, however, how to approach this, etc. And then potentially tagging people that can actually bring some actionable advice into the topic.

Greg Reffner  17:43  

I like that, I like that. So if you don’t have a solution, right, look to your network look to LinkedIn, as a way to try to kind of get that. I’m part of a modern sales pros email group. And the stuff that comes in into that group, when people ask questions is just phenomenal. I feel like it’s a little bit more intimate, because it’s not, you know, out in public for everybody to see. Granted, there’s like 20,000 people on that email list. Like, it’s pretty damn public. But it feels more safe, I guess, in my mind, then, you know, a LinkedIn post. So maybe I just need to get over myself and start throwing some stuff out there and see how people respond to it.

Nadja Komnenic  18:31  

I think we can take a look at the Elon Musk’s Twitter, which is quite, quite risky in terms of the posts and tweets. But first of all, he was able to like I created Twitter only because of him because I was actually looking to see what he’s posting. So you’re generating awareness and you’re generating this attraction for people to actually want to see what you’re posting, even though sometimes they might not agree with that. And on the other side, like it’s, I do believe that you can still raise those just raising the questions that people don’t address is like a first step. And it might be enough in this stage of time, because people are just silent. And everybody’s thinking it, nobody’s talking about it, and somebody needs to start talking about these topics.

Greg Reffner  19:18  

So it’s interesting when like, I’ll get on calls with people and we’ll have intimate conversations. And the more you start to realize, more people open up, the more you realize there’s more to them than kind of the persona they put out on social media, especially LinkedIn, like Instagram, Facebook, I’m sure those are very different. I thought I’ve often thought about doing this post where I kind of tag people, and I say, show me what’s on the other side of your camera. Like what’s on the wall that you look at every day that you those are the things that you probably enjoy. Those are the things You probably care about, like, what’s not the pretty picture that you’ve put behind you to make you look professional. We had a podcast with Kevin hop a couple weeks ago. And it was like he had like an open bar in his garage and like skateboards, and like, he was like, Yeah, this is all the fun stuff. Like, I just I want to, I wish. And again, maybe it’s something I need to do just kind of get over myself. But I kind of wish LinkedIn was a little bit more, we talked about diversity, we talked about inclusion. But if you are having an unpopular opinion, or you do things that aren’t, like socially acceptable, you’re quickly you know, on LinkedIn, as opposed to celebrate it on Facebook or Instagram.

Nadja Komnenic  20:48  

Right now, like we’ve talked about isn’t legal, actually, you brought the topic up. It’s not only that people are not posting is that LinkedIn is banning those posts and is yet is about to bend even more. So these topics are going to be like even less easy to discuss. But I do believe that these topics shouldn’t only belong on Facebook, or Instagram or when you’re talking to your friends. Because those are the topics that are interesting, really highly in very impactfully your work life and your business life. And it’s mostly where we see these inequalities happening. So we need to put it out there. And it needs to be in front of the CEO CMOS in front of the executives in front of the sea level. And as many people the more people talk about it, the more it will actually go into their minds and be like change the perspective. And I do believe this is what happened with remote work. Because I do believe that as soon as COVID was over, everybody wanted like every CEO was like, Okay, get back to the office, I want to see you everyday in the by your desk, etc. But having two years of lockdown and people posting consistently about what they enjoy about remote work. They weren’t able to do that. Easily. And this, this theory,

Greg Reffner  22:04  

I knew people weren’t going back to the office. Like I talked with the lobby, like, oh, everybody’s gonna want to come back to the office. Yeah, you’re telling me people enjoy sitting in the car, half an hour, an hour on the way to work? Half an hour hour on the way home? Like, I get to make fresh lunch every day on my stove. Like do you think I want to go reheat stuff out of Tupperware in the microwave? And you know, when my co workers making salmon in the microwave right before? No, I don’t want to do that. Like that sucks. So yeah, I knew that that. Yeah, I knew no one was going back to the office. Well, wrapping this up, you know what would be if someone’s listening in and they’re like, you know, I want to, I want to I want to do this, I’m gonna get started on this. Like, what would be your one piece of advice to give them to give them that push?

Nadja Komnenic  22:53  

My first piece of advice is, before you even go into writing anything, sit down on your desk, take a notebook, and write your backstory. So like who you are, what are your values? What is your story of like your personal life, like your elevator pitch? And understand what are the topics you want to address? And then figure out what are the things that you want to always be seen in your, in your posts. So if you’re, for example, in introvert and you’re like, potentially have imposter syndrome, talk about it, like figure out what makes you different what, what is your voice, what is your authentic self, and then implement it every time into your into your posting? You’re not gonna nail it every time, obviously, but like, it’s going to be an involution of your posts. And don’t be scared. I mean, the last thing that can happen is, maybe you have a wrong post, you will get warned. You will not you’ll know obviously like what you will not repeat it in anymore. But the benefits you can get out of that can be just tremendous.

Greg Reffner  23:58  

Advice. I love it. Well, now yeah, I appreciate your time today. If anybody wants to get a hold of you, and maybe kind of ask you some questions, what’s the best way to get a hold of you?

Nadja Komnenic  24:09  

my LinkedIn profile, so feel free to look me up. If obviously, Greg pronounced my name properly. So you’re gonna be able to find me on LinkedIn. happy to chat anytime, feel free to reach out happy to help with personal branding as well if somebody needs help. So yeah,

Greg Reffner  24:25  

cool. Awesome. All great chat today. I don’t know if I’m quite there yet to start throwing myself out there. But this this definitely helped nudge me a little bit closer to the edge today. So I appreciate your time, your wisdom. And yeah, thank you.

Nadja Komnenic  24:43  

Thank you, and I’m waiting for your posts. So I will be counting accountable as

Greg Reffner  24:49  

well. We’ll see. I might send them to you ahead of time to maybe get you to maybe tweak them a little bit. And before I throw them up on LinkedIn for the world to see Huh All right now I will talk to you soon thank you.

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