build a community

Community Builders: An Interview with Van Trinh

4 min read

Van Trinh has a passion to connect all things: people, processes, and technology. This passion has labeled her a super-connector and a leading community builder. Her background in product management leads her to create customer-focused products for sustainable growth.


Van is always ready to "make it happen" and takes that attitude to launch her startup, Prisme, building data-driven interview games to create meaningful engagement for sustainable job placement.


Family and Meaningful Connection


Panion: Hi, Van! Thanks for taking the time to talk. Can you tell us a bit about how you ended up involved in community building? What has inspired you?


Van: My draw towards community building stems from my family heritage. I love Christmas and party planning. Naturally, I would be the party planner for family Christmas. It was rooted in more than a desire to plan parties.


My internal drive was to create a gathering for the family to get to know one another while setting aside petty differences. No family is perfect, rather I like to think all families are rich in diversity. We all have different personalities and life paths. However, the strength is that families create common ground to respect those diversities and learn to find coexistence.


P: Apart from working on your startup, your recent efforts have been focused on the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) business community and AAPI entrepreneurs. What makes that business community unique?


V: It is unique in the sense that the community often equals family. We loosely share similar family backgrounds with hard-working parents striving for a better life for the next generation. This shared value instills characteristics to be accountable and consider the sum over the one.


creating community


P: The feeling of family connections is certainly powerful. What would you say are the top benefits of belonging to a community?


V: The top benefits of belonging to a community are socialization and personal growth. We as humans are social creatures. Communities offer an environment to socialize with like minds to deepen our thoughts and interactions.


Communities also offer a space for sharing. I find personal growth from learning about other’s journeys. I also find sharing my own journey exercises my voice and reinforces the lessons I have been taught through my experiences.


Community Building Challenges


P: What are some of the challenges people face when building a community?


V: One of the challenges is growing a community that not only shares the core values but actively finds ways to foster those core values. As a community builder, we simply create the structure and environment to keep the energy and momentum moving forward.


However, the growth of a community comes from its members. The energy of the members leads to the wealth of its engagement. When we become stagnant or lose interest, the energy for growth or momentum is lost.


P: What are the biggest mistakes people make when trying to grow a community?


V: I may be biased on this. I am a strong believer in a strong operational structure to create clear communication and transparency for any organization. Teams function successfully when they have an understanding of direction. Often miscommunication stems from operational deficiencies.


COVID-19 and the Future


P: How do you see the future of community building in the context of changing technology and the “new normal”?


V: The future of community building is using technology to foster deeper connections. Social media has us hyper-connected however not necessarily deeply connected. We have so much access yet when we can argue that we do not have enough depth. Depth is getting deep into the complexity of a topic and being open-minded to hearing all sides.


The “new normal” needs empathy for its fellow human beings.


community manager


P: That's very insightful! What are your 3 top tips for people trying to build a community?


V: It's similar to a business: Nurture and cultivates your leadership. They are the backbone of the community. Listen and create a dialogue with your community members to understand their needs. Find and cultivate strategic partnerships.


P: Your work with AAPI entrepreneurs is really impressive. How can allies help support communities of people of color right now?


V: That is a great question. It can start with reaching out to create a dialogue to listen and learn. I think a lot about the basic human rights we all strive for, regardless of color, and use that as the foundation for initiatives towards positive change.


P: Thank you so much for sharing your deep knowledge with Panion!



Erika Tepler
Erika Tepler
Erika was an ESL teacher for 13 years before she became a marketer. She loves traveling and spending lots of time with old and new friends.