Masterclass: Personal Branding

Do you know why and how we need to build personal branding? Each person has their own value however, many of us may not know how to highlight it and ‘shine’ in our own way. Everybody needs to have personal branding regardless of whether you are in a job or are looking for one. 

Viet Make It.’s “Personal Branding” event explores the why and guides you to build your personal brand in the career path you wish. The event is co-hosted by the guest speakers Milena Nguyen, Thinh Le and Minh Duc Nguyen and moderator Thanika Amnuayskul.

Part 1: Presentation by Milena Nguyen

Our keynote speaker, Milena Nguyen, is a published author, 3-time TEDx speaker, purpose & success coach, personal branding strategist, and co-founder of Women of Influence Asia. She helps people to make an impact by doing what they love.

What is personal branding, really? Why is it important?

A common theme among people is “the desire to make a positive difference in the lives of others” and that’s where personal branding really comes in. Some celebrities have strong personal brands and they shine on their own without the need for an introduction. This means a powerful personal brand is not just about you, it’s about finding your authentic inner light and letting it shine. When you shine, you light up others around you.

Most of us are not shining and feel that we are not expressing ourselves authentically. The reasons why we dim our light can come from fear of rejection, judgment or thinking we’re not good enough.

The power is in your hand to reclaim your light. Milena spent many years holding herself back. Depression forced her to go through a deep transformative process to rediscover herself. She started to dress and speak the way she wanted, shared her opinions and expressed herself. She wrote blogs, founded different businesses and eventually established her coaching practice. Milena shares her life to serve others and to help them realize that personal branding can be done in a very meaningful and impactful way.

SHINE: 5 simple steps to build your personal brand from scratch

  1. Seek your why
  2. Hone your message
  3. Ignite your uniqueness
  4. Navigate online and offline spaces
  5. Engage and inspire

Step 1: Seek your why

  • Why do you want to build your brand?
  • Who do you want to influence and impact?

You need to know your purpose for creating your personal brand and make it clear. When you identify your purpose, you can define your audience, who you want to influence.

For example, your “why” can be: “Find a great employment opportunity in the marketing industry in the Netherlands.” From that, you can identify your audience as decision makers who make hiring decisions.

Step 2: Hone your message

  • What is your message to the audience?
  • How can you help your audience understand and live out that message?

We learned that your brand should be bigger than yourself, so your message is what you can bring to the table. The next thing is how you deliver your message; such as making videos, speaking on stage or writing a book. 

Step 3: Ignite your uniqueness

  • What about your experience, style, and voice that are authentically you, thus makes you stand out from others?

Three areas that you should look at are experience, style and voice. Experience includes your life experience and your work experience. Style can be fashion. Voice is about speaking and writing. Those are unique and make you stand out from others.

Step 4: Navigate online and offline spaces

  • Where are your audience most active?
  • What kind of personal brand assets do you need to establish a presence there?

You should find out the place your audiences are most active to obtain a link in a group. You can find them in industry events or social channels. For example, your audience is highly active on LinkedIn, thus you need to have a LinkedIn profile and craft it in a professional way. You can also choose to have a website and include a well-crafted bio.

Step 5: Engage and inspire

  • What can you do to meaningfully engage and inspire your audience in that space?
  • What holds you back?
  • How can you break free from that to truly shine your light?

If you would like to engage online, you can make videos or write a blog. You also need to ask yourself what holds you back, they can be afraid of judgments or rejections. Then, you need to find a way to break free from that to truly shine your light in a lifelong process.

Milena shared with us a worksheet  to complete all exercises and take action on building personal branding.

Part 2: Panel discussion

The next phase of the event is a panel discussion moderated by Thanika Amnuayskul who is a product specialist in Supply Chain at Shell. In this panel, Milena Nguyen, Thinh Le (Product Partnership Manager at Facebook), and Minh Nguyen Duc (Ex-Unilever, MBA candidate at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University) join together to share their experiences of building personal branding in their professional international environment.

Thanika: Could you share your experience when you feel your light is dimming, when you feel it is bright. How did you become aware of that and what were your personal stories in tackling that? 

Minh: 10 years ago, I was huge, six feet one (1.85m) and 110 kilograms heavier compared to the average Vietnamese. I felt very different from others because I did not have any self-esteem in my life. When I was in my second year of college; I was rejected for a job because of my ‘not nice’ appearance. Then I recognized that I needed to do something different. I wanted to feel good about myself, to talk to people about how good they are. Then I took on an intense weight loss program and embedded a very healthy lifestyle to achieve my health goals and discovered lovely characteristics about myself. I shine the most when I look at things from different angles and by finding the possibilities of every situation in life.

Thinh: I study computer science. People normally ask me “Can you fix my computer?”, although I don’t do that. I thought about how I can fix this perception. I pay attention to what I do, what kind of messages to deliver to the audience. When I finished my master program, I had an interview at Spotify. The hiring manager asked me only one question: “What do you want me to remember most about you?”. I shared my perspective and they said “You are hired.”. You suppose that the hiring manager asks a lot of technical questions but I actually got the position because of referrals from my friends and professors. That moment really shocked me. I did not realize how much of an impact I made in my daily life, at school or in social gatherings. I found that when you focus on something, you can delete your message better and still see the outcomes.

Thanika: In the past, did you have experiences where you help introverts who might not be too outspoken and what would be your advice to build personal branding.

Milena: Don’t use introversion as an excuse to stay inside yourself, don’t let it define you. Instead, look at your strength as an introvert. You can express yourself by writing a blog or going to a networking event. Pick a few people you feel really resonate with and ask them out for a coffee talk the next day to build deeper connections. If you are introverted, when you are tired, you need your own space to regain energy. If you are extroverted, when you are tired, you want to go out and bounce off the energy of other people. Thus, introversion or extroversion is just a different way to gain energy. However, when you are shy and afraid, it is not a characteristic of an introvert. That is the fear of judgment or rejection. I was very scared when I did three TED talks but it was fine. If you are working towards a goal bigger than yourself, if you’re afraid, just do it. Every time you do it, you feel less afraid.

Minh: 4 years ago, when I was first promoted to manager. I support an introverted person who is opposite to me – an extrovert. I thought they have certain strengths such as reflective, good listeners and those are the qualities that marketing people need. Even marketing professions are stereotyped for extroverted people, if you are really putting your heart and your passion into it, there is always a way you can utilize the impact thanks to your introversion. 

Thanika: What would be your advice or an action that people from this event should do?

Thinh: At the end of day, the most important thing is what you want to do. That will be the key answer for everything. I see building a personal brand is more like a marketing campaign. Thus when you run it, you need to define the business opportunities, objective and audience.

Melina: I highly recommend you to download the worksheet to work through. Even if you are not sure, it’s fine, just wing it, start somewhere, take some actions. The more you do it the more clarity will come to you. Action is the key here. 

Milena shared with us a worksheet to complete all exercises and take action on building personal branding.

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