The following insight came from my podcast interview with Lan Phan, where she shared her story of building a community and going from 0 to 80k followers.
My focus has always been on community building. And I think it’s kind of in my DNA.
My parents are Vietnamese refugees. We came literally with nothing on our backs, and it was the community that fed us; it was the churches that provided us; it was an American sponsor that brought us over. It was this whole notion of society, and it’s been something that I’ve been seeking all my life. It was this that I’ve been trying to build. But, if I couldn’t find a community, I wondered how do I create a community?
The difference between a personal brand and a community is that your brand focuses on you, your brand, who you are, and your identity.
I am a natural introvert; I don’t want anything to be about me; I like to be behind the scenes.
The best advice I could give to any introverts out there is to focus on your why. Because people are always surprised when I tell them I’m an introvert because my profession has always been client-facing or membership-facing, or community-facing. Or I’m doing keynote speaking or training, and it’s a disconnect. How can you be an introvert and be in front of people?
But my why is, how can I help as many people as possible in my lifetime? That is my mission, and I can’t do that by being small; I can’t do that by not elevating my voice. I can’t do that by sitting at home reading a book, even though I feel most comfortable when I’m alone reading a book. My core value is helping people. For that, I need to get out of my comfort zone.
I’ve always built things from a standpoint because there’s your brand, your business brand, too. But I’ve always focused on making a community of people with a common purpose, goal. Where there’s a sense of belongingness, what are the shared values you have for that group?
When I built the community of SEVEN, it was centered around, first and foremost, community. The second thing is helping people during these dark ages of COVID, where there are high rates of suicide, depression, job loss. And thirdly, it’s just really on that personal improvement, focusing on moving people from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset. If you look at our community of SEVEN LinkedIn page, which I think is around 60,000 people right now, it’s just focused on each post is like a microlearning, which is short learning spurts on specific topics on mental health, or leadership or growth.
What’s great about it is when you build a community, it’s not dependent on you. If you look at some of our posts, I’ve had some posts that have like 30,000 interactions, 1,000 comments. In the beginning, I would maybe post some things and communicate, talk to people, but then once you start getting 1,000, that’s not manageable. But you see, actually engage with someone that posts something, and there are 20 comments. And that’s when you know you’ve built a community because people feel like they belong. They feel like this is a part of them. It’s no longer about the community of SEVEN being a brand; it’s about me being in this safe place where I can share my thoughts, be myself, and be heard.
Because we’re in this celebrity kind of world and people are tired of it. And I don’t want to look at Kim Kardashian, and I don’t want to follow these people. My voice matters, too. And I think that’s what I want to come across.