I was in a full arm cast for the next six months and slept on my sister’s couch for about a year trying to figure out how to make a living and what I was going to do next. I didn’t have a college degree at that time so I was trying to figure out if I should even get a job.
It was a free webinar but sold live training, teaching people the beginner, the intermediate, and advanced LinkedIn strategies via webinar later. On that first webinar, about 600 people attended but I think I did a miserable job.
I had no clue what I was doing and didn’t have a great product. I had to figure it out still. I was like, “Okay, do I record this? How do I resell this?” It was a process of figuring all that out as well. I was teaching LinkedIn even though my slides were horrible. I had no practice and I probably lost a lot of money from that but I also saw the potential through the results I did get and it really helped me light a fire under my butt to go in and become better at webinars.
What works the most is webinars. It’s building an email list and giving free content that helps people get the result on that webinar. Then through that, giving them an advanced training of products, services, or software that helps them further achieve the goal that they are trying to achieve based on that webinar topic.
For the last three years, I’ve probably done over 700 live webinars and more automated webinars but they were all free webinars where I would then sell a product that I had already created. After the webinar, people would buy the product then I wouldn’t have to deliver anything. It’s just a matter of building a connection with my audience, giving them new content and then selling them something if they wanted advanced training.
For someone that’s never studied to be a marketer, why do you think you’ve done so well?
I pretty much just studied a lot, learned through trial and error of how to promote things, saw what was working, where was it working, etc. I followed a lot of great marketers online and just emulated what was working for them, using my personal twist. I think over time, if you do it for enough, over three or four years, you start to learn what works, what doesn’t work, and that’s what I’ve been doing.
You were known first for your book Linked Working but expanded that into a training course called Linked Influence. What is that?
Linked Influence is basically a complete training on how to grow your business or achieve any professional goal using LinkedIn. I talk about leads, traffic, and sales. I talk about how to get a job, talk about promoting events, how to automate traffic, all the different things you need to know about building your business on LinkedIn.
It’s all video training, transcripts, work sheets, and MP3s of the audios. It’s a membership site where you could log in and get access to all the different content. We break it down step by step behind the scenes, making it very easy for people to go to any topic they want to learn about.
It has been around for a couple of years. I’ll probably do another update this year because of some design elements that are different in LinkedIn and we have changed a few features so we would probably do a retraining on that and then launch it again.
Let’s say I want to improve my LinkedIn profile. What do you suggest as critical changes?
The first thing is that you want to optimize your profile first because if your profile sucks, it doesn’t matter what you do. If people go to your profile and it looks like a crap or looks amateur, they are not going to take action on what you want them to do. They are not going to opt in, they are not going to go to your site, and they are not going to respond to your email. You got to give them the perception at least that you’re a qualified person that you have done something, that you’re interesting, that you’re creative, or that you get results which you can add. There are ways to optimize your profile. There are ways to increase your SEO in your profile so people can find you based on keywords. There are all sorts of means you can do but just go ahead and optimize your profile first.
The second thing that you should do if you’re looking to get more leads, traffic, and sales or really grow your business is to create your own targeted group on LinkedIn. Now, this group should be based around the audience that you’re trying to market to in general so if your audience is real estate agents, then you’d want to build a real estate agent group. Now if it’s local social media marketing, then you’d want to build local social media marketing group. If it’s sports professionals, you want to build that.
I’ve created a number of different groups and these groups allow you to send an email out once a week to all the members of the group. Now, one of my groups, Sports Industry Network, has over 120,000 members. It’s a free database that I don’t spend any money that I can send an email out with different links to webinars, videos, my website and sales page, whatever I want to send them to, to help me drive traffic, get more leads, and get more sales. So optimize your profile first then go right into creating a specific group that you want to target for your audience that you want to market to.
How did you grow the Sports Industry Network group to over 120,000 members?
Originally, I was just connecting with sports professionals one by one on LinkedIn, reaching out to them. After I connected to them, I would say, “Hey go ahead and make sure you join my group. I’ve got an awesome group of other professionals like yourself that I love to promote you to.” I just started promoting it that way, tweeted that every now and then, posted it on Facebook and after I got to about 1,000 members, it just started to grow on its own. It grows like 4,000 people a month right now just organically because people are searching sports, for groups, and then it grows from there.
Yeah, I’ve got a couple of phone calls from them and talked to a few of them before. They are actually doing a feature on me on their LinkedIn blog about my success story. They don’t really want to help anyone outside of the company, even if you’re an evangelist, they are not backing you and supporting you, but they are not against you either, at least in my experience. They are kind of neutral. I think it’s just the way they run their business and it’s completely fine.
Everything could always be better and one of the things is that I’ve got a good business partner and a good tech team who manage all the affiliate stuff, all the launches, and all webinar set ups. I think the key is finding a system or a team that can do everything that you’re not good at so all you need to focus on is doing the things that you are good at and then you can perform at the highest level with those things. But if I have to do all the technical stuff which I have no clue how to do, then I won’t really be able to perform at my highest level if I’m working on that. I think it’s just a matter of finding the right team, finding a good partner, and having people do the stuff that you’re not good at.
I think its adding value and building relationships, and hustle. I like to hustle a lot so I’m constantly going to events and constantly calling people, emailing people, trying to just get introduced to other people who are writers, who own these different sites. I’m giving them tips, giving them story ideas, and through that, I’m just able to guest post on a lot of these different media outlets or get featured based on my content. Half of it is just by staying relevant, staying consistent, and putting out great content online so people can find you.
My first big media magazine was a two-page spread in the middle of Details Magazine with Gary Vaynerchuk and Seth Godin. I got that because the writer for the article saw on Twitter an article of mine that someone retweeted. He went back to my website and contacted me and said I’d be great for the article. Again, that was just by being active online, by having the right people tweeting you, and putting great content out for people to share your stuff.
I think the big first place I’ve been on, it’s probably Forbes but I’ve done some other popular blogs before that, but that was a big media site that I started writing for. Through conferences, I met one of the editors and built a relationship and asked if I could write. It’s all about seeing them face to face.
Do you have any cool client success stories you can share?
I did a three-day workshop and taught them how to grow their online business. There was a woman that had a service. She did a weekend training teaching people, experts, and business owners, how to write a bestselling book in Amazon in a weekend. She would do this weekend retreat and would charge $1,500 but it took a lot of her time and energy because there would be 15-20 people there. She’d have to rent out the space. She’d have to travel, tons of pre-work and things like that.
She wanted to figure out how to create a product from it but didn’t know how to create it. She spent two years trying to brainstorm, “What can I do? How can I teach this? What should I do with the technical aspect?” I said, “Listen, in the next 24 hours, I want you to create a webinar and I want you to not have a product. I want you to see the idea of a product that you want to have that you’re going to give them. You’re going to deliver the product live just like you would over a weekend retreat. You’re going to deliver it live but virtually on webinars.” So you will do a bestseller on a weekend for $300 as opposed to $1,500 from the comfort of your home and from your audiences’ home. You’re going to sell it to the masses as opposed to having to do a lot of one-on-one work.”
In less than 24 hours, she had promoted this to her audience. Her webinar wasn’t that great. She didn’t have a product. She was nervous. Her sales page was horrible. It was like a PayPal link and a video. Within that hour webinar, she made $22,000 and she didn’t even have a product. I think that was a fun success story recently that someone was feeling like they were holding back from their challenges and their fears. They didn’t know what to do and when they just took action and sold something before they had it; they were able to see the result.
Let’s talk about your failures. What hasn’t worked for you?
We tried to launch a couple of websites that really we thought were going to be big hits. We tried to launch this quote website that was like thousands of different inspirational and motivational quotes from authors, experts, and leaders because everyone likes to share quotes online. They start to share quotes on Twitter, on Facebook and so we thought, “Let’s build like the ultimate quote sharing site that can help us drive a lot of traffic back and build leads that way.” We spent like 3-6 months trying to develop it and it didn’t go anywhere.
We test things all the time. We’re investing all the time and stuff. We’re trying new marketing strategies, ad campaigns, and some stuff just doesn’t work.
I think it’s just more learning – learning how to be more effective in business and I think you need to do certain things in order to learn how to make things better – so I won’t say they are necessarily mistakes but just learning how to manage people, how to build better relationships, how to deal with crisis and just how to learn how to react better with things. Nothing too major but just all the stuff you need to do.
I wouldn’t be who I am today without the help of so many people – coaches, teachers, mentors, and they were just there when I was just learning about business so they really helped shape my mind in the business world.
I had three different mentors over the years. They are probably my closest mentors. I would say I was learning from a lot of people but I had three people that I was pretty much going to every couple of weeks as just mentors. One was a great networking expert and a great writer/author. I was learning how to cultivate those skills with him and he was an amazing mentor. I have a great friend who is a famous inventor and product developer, branding guy, just a really creative mind. I learned about product development and cultivating ideas from him.
I have another great mentor who is the one who suggested getting on LinkedIn. He is just a great business guy in general, very inspirational and just a smart human being.
I would like to share my message and inspire people in a broader audience. The goal would be to develop some type of online show or host one of my own shows on a major network on TV so that I can just get in front of more people and kind of share my message about lifestyle, about business, about marketing, about health and all the things that I like to talk about.
I also interview people on my website in podcast format. The purpose is to one, connect with people on a deeper level that I admire, who I like, who are successful, and learn from them personally. The second goal is to add value to them by sharing these interviews with my audience and the third one is to give value to my audience. Give them some access and inside information that they can’t get anywhere else.
I also love handball and play for US National Team. It’s called Team Handle and that’s my main passions now. After football, I realized that I still want to be a competitive athlete. I haven’t made the Olympics yet so it’s one of my lifelong goals so I took on the sport team handball, learned it, and a year and a half, made the US National Team and now the goal is to go to Rio in 2016.
Lastly, what’s one tip you would like aspiring entrepreneurs to know?
I think the tip would be to find the exact person that you want to emulate or be like in business or in life. Find out the direction you want to be like, find out who that person is and then figure out a way to work with them so you can learn exactly how they did it and then follow your own path in getting there. The biggest thing is just to make sure you follow exactly what you like doing in life otherwise, you’re not going to be as completely fulfilled if you’re not following your passion.
We want to thank Lewis Howes for sharing his success story. You can find him at the following places:
Lewis Howes – The official website and blog of Lewis Howes
Lewis Howes – Lewis’ official LinkedIn.
Lewis Howes – Lewis’ official Facebook.
LinkedInfluence – Learn to get more sales, traffic, and leads via LinkedIn
School of Greatness – Lewis’s podcasts with entrepreneurs, athletes, more…