Sometimes I feel like a total fraud.
I'm going to tell you a story that only a few people know about me.
A story I've never told anyone before.
I haven't published this story anywhere else yet.
And I'm now telling this story because a lot of people asked me how I got started with all of the stuff that I'm currently doing.
A lot of people also asked me how the hell I get all of these speaker engagements.
And why the hell I'm being invited to mentor at all sorts of events (all over Europe), even though I have barely any (visible) credentials.
Some people even say that I have no clue about anything.
And you know what.
They might be totally right.
But then again, maybe they're not.
So here's the story about how it all started.
How I built a personal brand without even realizing it.
After I quit my job in the summer of 2013 I decided to write a book about my experiences in the startup ecosystems in China, Berlin and New York.
My basic idea was to only write the book once I had paying customers.
To acquire customers, I built a simple landing page (took me maybe two hours) with Launchrock and started sending traffic to it.
Because back then I had no clue about how to build up traction, I started experimenting with Facebook ads.
Also, no one knew me back then or had ever heard my name.
To get that thing started I simply targeted people that read similar books about startups.
Lean Startup, Customer Development, Running Lean and so on..
But these ads seemed way too expensive.
Clicks from Germany were around 20cents each.
Clicks from the US were about 25cents each.
So I went for the cheapest clicks possible.
After all, I planned to offer a digital product that could be sold anywhere in the world.
Turns out that countries such as Hungary, Czech Republic and Poland were dead cheap.
Something like 5cents a click.
So I started advertising in these countries.
In total I spent a few hundred bucks in advertisement on Facebook.
And most of the people that ended up buying my book were from these countries.
The only problem was that I now had to write a book. Ugh!
But that's a whole other story and took me a lot longer than initially expected.
At least I already had some paying customers.
But not only was I selling my book in these countries, I also had most of the people's email addresses (as they signed up on my landing page).
At one point I simply fired up Rapportive (a Gmail plugin) that showed me people's LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter accounts, based on their email addresses.
I now had the contact details of loads of decision makers within these startup ecosystems.
The only thing I had to do was to ask them whether or not they would be interested in me coming over and giving a talk.
And it worked out (not all the time, but sometimes).
Ever since I gave maybe 30+ talks, was mentoring at dozens of startup events and am invited to all sorts of things. Not everybody pays me a huge sum, but most of these events cover my expenses.
That again enables me to improve my local network pretty much for free.
And I see loads of interesting places and meet a lot of cool people.
So here's in a nutshell the stuff I did to (more or less accidentally) build my personal brand.
Feel free to copy it and do the same. Let me know how that works out for you..
Think about something valuable you could offer (e.g. a guide).
Build a landing page to collect people's email addresses.
Start a blog and send newsletters to build up trust and start interaction.
Pre-sell the product (heavily) discounted (and then build it) or sell the final product.
Get in touch with influencers from your email list (use Rapportive). They already signed up so they might be interested in you giving a talk (pull instead of push).
In case they're interested that you show up, ask if they have a budget. Some do. Some don't. Build trust first. Money comes later.
Show up. Be awesome. Be humble. Be nice.
That's pretty much all I did.
This actually works for all sorts of products. It's an easy way to validate whatever idea you want to work on. Traction first, then trust, then sales and only then do you build it.
The funniest thing that ever happened was at an event in Budapest, Hungary where I seem to have a lot of followers (feel free to share this post if you're one of them).
Just for the fun of it I asked the folks in the audience who knew me or has heard my name before (remember I've never been there before).
Out of 100 people about 20 people raised their hands.
That's a good 20%. Not too bad.
And all of this thanks to 5cents a click on Facebook..
The world is changing. Faster than ever before.
What worked yesterday might not work anymore tomorrow. But some things will always work.
No matter how many robots are out there. Or how many algorithms are replacing our jobs.
Learn these 14 micro skills and you'll never have to worry about your future ever again (of course it isn't that easy, but it's a great start.)
You can download a free report where I discuss these skills below.
Click here to claim your copy now (it's free, for now)...