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With no friends, no money, no real expertise: How to still achieve entrepreneurial success

Entrepreneur Leonard Kim highlights five components that have earned him success over the past two years
By Scott Hansen |



As host of the Success Hackers podcast, I interviewed Leonard Kim, who is managing partner of a company called Influence Tree. Kim's team teaches you how to build your personal brand, get featured in publications and growth-hack your social media following.


He also does digital marketing at the University of Southern California’s medical enterprise, Keck Medicine of USC.


Much like me, Kim fell into his career. He started writing content on a website called Quora, based on the recommendation of a virtual mentor. His online presence picked up more steam than he could have ever imagined.


And Kim has picked up a lot of steam – it isn’t every day that I talk to someone who has amassed well over 10 million reads, gotten syndicated and featured in major media publications like Entrepreneur, Inc., ForbesFortuneHuffington Post, etc., where he has a number of columns and has attracted well over 100,000 social media followers.


How'd he do it? From our conversation, here are the top five highlights:



1. Create 'social proof.'

Back in 2013, Kim wanted to leave his dead-end job at his Fortune 100 employer. He lacked a decent resume, because each startup he worked with went bankrupt and his reputation went along with it. And the hundreds of resumes he sent out produced no call backs.


Determined to not be stuck in place forever, he went off to build "social proof." He gathered up testimonials, got his content featured in leading media publications and grew his social media following to over 100,000. Once he did that, the world became his playground. So, be like Kim: Ask your current/former clients if they would supply you with some testimonials. Believe it or not, this is much easier than you think.



2. Be authentic.

People are smart. They can see right through you. When I work with my clients, the most important thing I coach them on is their ability to be 100 percent authentic in everything they do. Readers are tired of seeing "rah rah rah," where people just brag about what they have.


Instead, your content should be designed to connect with your audience. If you want to achieve success, the more raw you make your voice, the easier it will be to connect with your readers.


3. Use a content syndication platform.

Your content deserves to be read. When it is parked in only one place, like your company or personal blog, only a limited number of people can see it. Kim recommends using content syndication platforms that have pre-built audiences, like Quora, an Alexa top 150 website, and Medium, a content-publishing platform.



These content syndication platforms also have strong ties to media outlets, so there is a chance that your content will be published in a major publication.


4. Ensure that there’s demand.

Make sure people want what you have to offer. Kim almost went out to build an e-commerce platform like Volusion and Shopify. There was a key problem with that strategy, however, aside from the many unforeseen costs. His target market and followers weren’t looking for a platform like that.


Instead, they continued to ask him to mentor them. The old saying of, "If you build it, they will come," does not apply to business. Here's a simple formula when deciding which business to "start-build": find a need in the marketplace, figure out a solution, become the solution provider and build a business.


5. 'Defrag-ment' the industry.

Once you find the industry with demand that you want, go out there and "defrag-ment" it. Kim did that with education. He saw that there were courses where people would binge-watch material, but not take action, because they ended up with analysis paralysis. He saw other courses that did not keep people accountable by making them turn in assignments.


He saw people who learned a wealth of information from other courses, but they didn’t take action. Why? Because, in a fragmented industry, people get stuck. Kim solves all these problems by basing his InfluenceTree course around taking action by doing things each week that will have a direct result on your personal brand.


The tips Kim provided just scratch the surface of what he covered. Learn more and hear the full podcast to get a full understanding of his story.







Copyright © 2015 Entrepreneur Media, Inc. All rights reserved.  

This article originally appeared on Minor edits have been done by


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