In January 2014, I got introduced to the organizer of TEDxLugano in Switzerland which led to a series of events that made me the first speaker chosen for TEDxLugano 2015.

In this article, I want to share with you the steps involved in this process that led me from having a dream of speaking at TEDx to becoming a speaker there and how you can build meaningful relationships with Thought Leaders and Influencers.


1. Have a Dream and Know Why

I believe the first step to achieve anything is knowing what it is and why you want it. Right behind me, as I am writing this, is my vision board. On that vision board is a picture of a TEDx talk in front of a large audience.

Without having that dream of being on stage at TEDx, I’m not sure this would have materialized.

The reason why I wanted to be on stage at TEDx is to share my message with the people who want to hear it. It’s about inspiring people to live their dream of contributing instead of hiding from it. It’s about inspiring people to go after what they are most afraid of.

I wanted this opportunity to inspire more people to do something that matters and makes a difference.


2. Let People Help You

It’s important to have dreams and a vision of what we want to achieve. It’s also important to know that none of us gets there alone. Not a single one of us.

We all need each other to create what we envision. We need the support, encouragement, feedback, connections, collaboration and resources others can offer.

In January 2014, I had a call with a potential client, a ChangeMaker, who is building relationship bridges between Switzerland, Silicon Valley and the CIS region to enable faster and better economic growth.

She spoke about her vision of what she wants to create and at some point, I shared that one of my dreams is to speak at TEDx. Immediately, she mentioned that she used to organize TEDx events and knows a few organizers in Switzerland, especially the one from TEDxLugano.

Right after our call, she sent an introduction email to me and the TEDx organizer.


3. Build Meaningful Relationships of Value

After the introduction, I reached out to the TEDx organizer and faced my first challenge. He thanked for the introduction and told me that they already had booked all speakers for 2014 but that he can put me on the list for 2015.

He had never met me before at that point and I knew that “being on the list” did not mean much because if he had speakers for 2015 that he knew personally, he would probably choose them first.

So it was on me to build and nurture a relationship over time so that we got to know each other better.

I thanked him for the update on the speakers list for 2015 and told him I will keep in touch over time.


4. Persist

I put together a strategic and authentic plan to keep in touch with him and build a relationship of value for both of us.

A few weeks after our first contact, I reached out to him again and shared one of my favorite TED talks with him and mentioned why it was so inspiring to me. I continued to keep in touch with him by sharing things like inspiring speeches every month or so.

It took eight months until I got an email from him. However, it was not a response to an email I sent to him but an invitation for lunch in Zurich because he was passing through the city that day on his way to Lugano. Unfortunately, I only saw it the next day so we missed each other.

After this, it took another two months until I received an email from him. It was the first time he replied to an email I sent to him after our initial conversation.

I had sent him a very inspiring TED talk on leadership and he replied that this may be the speech they will use for the opening at TEDxLugano 2015. He also asked me if I am still interested in speaking at TEDxLugano.

Of course, I said yes.


The Power of Relationship Value Creation

What if I had stopped communicating after he told me I’m on the list for 2015? Or what if I would have given up on keeping in touch after not hearing back from him after the first attempt?

Maybe, I would still have been invited to speak at TEDxLugano 2015, maybe not.

The important part about it is that I dramatically increased my chances to become a speaker at TEDx because I created a relationship of value.

If you want to create such meaningful relationships of value with Thought Leaders and Influencers that can multiply your impact and influence, let’s talk about how.


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