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Build Your Brand Like a WINNER

Want to know how to build a brand? Ask Jimmy Nguyen. And you don’t need his auspicious last name—pronounced “WIN”—to do it.

If you know Nguyen, you know he is relentlessly positive, a crazy energetic overachiever, loves the color orange, and is a strong advocate for diversity and LGBT rights. And if you don’t know him, you should.

Nguyen is a Davis Wright Tremaine wunderkind partner who was often dubbed the ,“gay Vietnamese Oprah” by friends in the legal community. Turns out, he is just as golden. His @JimmyWinMedia Twitter stream has 2,767 followers. Not impressive enough for you? He has more than 17,500 fans on Facebook. “I’m not Lady Gaga, but that’s a nice following for a lawyer dude,” he says.

Only winners look this good in orange.

Is Nguyen simply a media natural? Not really. He saw a market niche and exploited it. “As a digital lawyer, I knew I needed to be involved in digital media myself. I started a blog and social media brand not specifically to drive business, but to create a separate media presence for myself. But I know a lot of my clients and potential clients follow my social media brand, read my work, and share it.”

Looking at a crowded market, even for a well-groomed, SoCal lawyer for all things digital, Nguyen decided he wanted to be known for his interest in diversity and innovation. And five years into his online life, Nguyen’s brand is a hit. “I’m so positive. At least that’s what people tell me. And as it turns out, positivity sells. People like it, and want to be around it.”

“Decide why you want to do social media,” Nguyen recommends. “In my case, it was to establish my personal brand as a professional that went beyond law. I wanted to be perceived as positive, and it turns out clients like that.”

While he is careful to avoid commenting about clients and issues that may become client issues, such as net neutrality, he has seen the benefit of venturing beyond legal issues to rise above the digital din. “It turns out people, and clients, are just people, and want to work with people.” One client who first saw him speak put it this way: “I really want to get to know that dynamic digital guy who so clearly owns his personal brand.”

More importantly, clients LOVE to hear from him, no matter what news he may be delivering. “An important lesson in business development is knowing how people perceive you,” he says. Once you know that, he says, you can steer a course to success.

I’m like Nguyen’s client. I saw him speak at INTA years ago and knew immediately that I MUST get to know this guy. Turns out that in practice and in person, he delivers the goods. Pick an issue, or a topic, and follow his lead. Practice positivity and be the kind of person people want to WIN with.

Susan Kostal is a legal marketing and media coach specializing in the Bay Area legal industry. Find more great content on Twitter @skostal.

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