Category Archives: Personal Brand

Can’t shut me up: A year for public speaking

Speaking @ The Blogger Relations Forum 2011

I like to think I put a lot of time into learning and trying new things. I’m a curious person and I try to challenge myself professionally. One skill I’ve always been a bit jealous of is excellent public speaking.

I went to my first HOBY (Hugh O’Brien Youth Leadership) conference as an ambassador my sophomore year of high school. They brought in amazing motivational speakers (awesome guys like Leon Quan) that not had the room laughing and then minutes later we would all have tears running down our faces.  I loved the way they told stories, and drew you in to build that trust in such a short amount of time. I also loved the core messages they shared at conference like HOBY. They had substance and meaning. These speakers made you feel like you could conquer the world. You took their message and somehow could apply it to your own life.

I’ve had opportunities to present and speak publicly off and on since that HOBY weekend. However, it wasn’t until last year that I decided I wanted to work on it more formally. I set some goals for myself in terms of setting up opportunities to speak publicly. I spoke at an event I organised in front of about 80 people and last month spoke at fastBREAK in front of 50+ smart people in one room (see the video from that talk). It was a step outside my comfort zone. I felt the fear and did it anyway. That can be really rewarding. It felt like a move in the right direction, but now I’m hungry for more.

I want this year to be a year that I focus on my public speaking skills. I’m going to look for more opportunities to speak. Honestly, I just need to practice more. I am also going to research joining a local Toastmasters chapter.  My last boss, and mentor Lewis always spoke very highly of Toastmasters and said it really made an impact on his public speaking skills. If you have any experiences with joining a chapter in Sydney, I’d really like to hear from you.

If you have any upcoming events that you need a speaker for, please let me know. I’m happy to come along and practice. I promise I’m not that awful, and you can help me get even better friends.

Have you taken steps have you taken to improve your own public speaking? Any advice to offer? 


Filed under Communications, Personal Brand

Letting Your Blog Be Your Online Home

cc license, DeclanTM

I’m not the most consistent blogger.  I always regret that I don’t write more often and envy those who are able to find time to write relevant posts on a daily basis. I’ve heard people use this as an excuse for not blogging altogether. “I don’t have time to start a blog” or “I would rather not blog at all because I know I wouldn’t update it.”

On one hand, I think it’s smart to recognize if you’re too busy to keep up with your blog. A neglected blog can look messy, especially when paired with an out of date resume or other forgotten social networking profile.  On the other hand I’ve had great experiences having a blog despite my inconsistent posting. Depending on what approach you take to blogging you can gain a lot of value that doesn’t necessarily have a dollar amount attached to it.

My blog is my online home. I own my domain name, thanks to some encouragement from mentor and friend Nate Riggs. I have my blog linked to all of my other profiles, it’s on my personal business card and if I have to give someone a link to find me I usually give them to visit that website.

While I don’t make money off my blog or have thousands of readers who cling to my every word. I’ve found a lot of value in blogging. It has connected me to other bloggers. I’m a member of several online communities that have allowed me to meet new friends with similar interests. In my recent move to Australia I made new connections through my blog. It also is a way for me to share that part of my life with friends and family and friends I don’t yet.

My blog represents me online. It should show up in the top few results when you search for my name. It’s a way to stand out from others working in the digital space. Also managing your own brand and community teaches you lessons in managing brands for others.

I’m not the best blogger, but I’m certainly glad I have my blog.

What benefits or opportunities have you gained from blogging?


Filed under Communications, Personal Brand

Losing My Elevator Pitch

alykat - elevator

cc license, alykat

When meeting someone for the first time you should be able to give them a quick summary of who you are and what you do. Your ‘elevator pitch’ is an approximately thirty second story to tell during a brief elevator ride to a hypothetical top floor. I like to think that I used to have a decent pitch ready to give. It went something like this, “I’m a public relations student who wants to work in the non-profit sector when I graduate. I love meeting people, volunteering, playing tennis, etc.” While all of those things are still true I find that my pitch has been changing lately, or in come cases disappearing.

I’m starting to ask myself where I want to go next. I would still love to work in the non-profit sector one day but I’m starting to see other possibilities. Too many possibilities – that’s my issue. There are a lot of things I could do, careers I could pursue, dreams I could bring to life. How do I explain to others where I am going if I have no idea myself?

Now when I meet new people it feels like I’m rambling off a million different thoughts and ideas. This isn’t exactly an awful problem to have. I’m excited for new possibilities. It’s great to question yourself and reevaluate your goals. I know that I’ll find my pitch again soon. Until then, let’s hope we don’t meet in an elevator.


Filed under About Me, Personal Brand

What’s in a Name?

openinggntdoorsOn twitter I am @openinggtndoors – (It stands for Opening Giant Doors FYI). I have mixed feelings on my handle choice. Many would advise when signing up for Twitter, to pick your name or something close to it (if yours is taken). When I created my account I didn’t think twice about it. Basically, I have been ‘openinggntdoors’ for as long as I’ve been online. It was my first email account when we got the internet at my house. It was also my first instant messenger (AIM) username and I still use it today. It’s part of my online personality.

I’ve been told a few times that I should reconsider using my name instead. I do understand the power of my name in building my personal brand but I also wonder if it’s the best choice for me.

Some reasons I like being @openinggntdoors:

  • My name is not that easy to spell and it’s long. If you have a short easy to spell first and last name then yes, it would be smart to turn that into your handle. I don’t know if it would be an advantage to switch it. I would only be saving two characters by switching.
  • If someone really wants to find me my Twitter handle shouldn’t matter. I have my name on my profile with a bio and website link. You can find my profile by Google or via Twitter search. Plus, there are no other Hannah DeMiltas around to compete with.
  • Can’t I make any name famous one day? If followers are invested in who I am and the content I produce my choice of Twitter handle should be unimportant. There are definitely people who I would consider successful who don’t use their real name.
  • It’s unique to me. I want to stand out and have a different style. I recently met Andrea (@aslesinski) for the first time in person. When I introduced myself she said “Oh my God, opening doors! I feel like I know you!” I like being opening doors and getting that type of reaction.

I don’t like being @openinggntdoors because it is too long and makes it harder for people to re-tweet me. I also think it appears unprofessional to some people. I mean, I did come up with it in middle school. A lot of people just don’t understand it or wonder what it means.

What is your opinion on this topic, do you agree or disagree? Leave a comment. If you make a good enough argument and maybe I’ll be @hannahdemilta by the end of the week.

UPDATE: Well that was short lived. I lasted about 1.5 hrs. Give me a follow @HannahDeMilta


Filed under Personal Brand

The Student Label

StudentI’m learning that senior year is a tough transition time. You are stuck between what feels like your quickly fading college years and a terrifying “real” world approaching quickly. I often wonder what label(s) I should give myself when meeting people for the first time both online and off. I want to be seen as a young professional but at the same time I’m still learning.

Some students try to separate themselves from being labeled a student or undergrad. They want to be viewed as pros so they feel pressured to strictly present themselves as pros. This has advantages if done well. In certain situations you may be taken more seriously. The downside is that it can come off as potentially arrogant. I’ve also been turned off by big talkers without the back-up and true knowledge (or experience).

I’ve found that being labeled a student doesn’t necessarily give you less credibility. If you are humble and willing to learn from others, some will be more willing to help you in return. You don’t have to act less professional or lower yourself to a different level to achieve this. I think it’s important to be transparent about who you are. You don’t have to label yourself a student, but you also don’t have to hide it. We as young pros have knowledge to share too – so don’t sell yourself short or have the attitude “well I’m only a student.”

What labels do you give yourself?


Filed under About Me, Personal Brand