I started playing professional football when I was younger and always wanted to be a pro athlete. So after college, I made All American as a football player and a decathlete. Eventually I had to make a decision, whether I should train for the next few years as a decathlete to try and make the Olympic team or should I go and play professional football right now. I had decided I wanted to play professional football and start getting paid right away. I ended up making the Arena Football League but got injured in my first year so I never really had the chance to make it to the NFL. The goal was to play in the Arena Football League, do well in it, and then move up to the NFL after a year or two.
A good mentor and friend said to check out LinkedIn for jobs. So I got on LinkedIn and started to become pretty aggressive on there for about 6-8 hours a day for the next six months just connecting with people, trying to make introductions, and adding value to people in any way I could. That’s kind of how everything else started.
It already existed for a few years actually. I got on there in late 2007 and there were about 20 million people on there at that time and now there are over 200 million people. It has grown tremendously since then. It has only helped people even more since then but for me, there are a lot of people on there then that I could connect with still. Originally, the goal was to connect with as many sports executives as possible to see if I could get back into playing football or work in sports somehow, because sports was what I really liked. I started connecting with every sports professional I could and then just started interviewing them, asking them questions like: What’s your biggest challenge? What are you really working on right now? What’s the biggest thing you’re trying to overcome?
I’ve got a couple of books. I’ve got a webinar marketing book, but the LinkedIn book is called Linked Working and it’s teaches people how to generate success on LinkedIn. It’s all about real world networking principles and applying it to the online networking world of LinkedIn.
I started leveraging LinkedIn groups early on for myself to drive traffic back to the site that I created, which is a sports business website and I started to see that I was easily able to get a lot of traffic back to my site by creating my own group, cultivating a network in a tribe of people in a similar industry, and then I just started teaching other people how to do the same so they can get traffic leads and sales through LinkedIn. I became one of the top people teaching LinkedIn for businesses.
There were a couple of people who were doing it but had a very corporate feeling, it wasn’t entrepreneurial at all. I was guest posting on the right blogs, I was getting featured in the right places so I was becoming more known than the other people who started out before me. I was showing tremendous results for the clients that I was teaching and helping out. I think that’s what helped me separate myself from the other LinkedIn educators out there and also what separated me today.
The next thing was really trying to figure out how to make money because I was making a little bit of cash. I was hosting LinkedIn networking events around the country. I did about 20 events in 2009 where I was just bringing people together and helping them connect offline in the real world as opposed to just connecting on LinkedIn. I was making $2,000 in cash a month doing that but it was very time consuming. It took a lot of my energy and it wasn’t helping me really grow and it wasn’t exciting anymore.
I tried to figure out how I could monetize my information. I had already created a book but wasn’t really making a lot of sales off a $20 product. I tried to figure out how I could take this to the next level but also not work as hard, so there is passive income coming and there’s someone buying something every day. I did my first webinar and that’s what really helped me create this idea of what I wanted to do for the last few years. I did my first webinar and made $6,300 in an hour teaching LinkedIn. I thought to myself, “I could do this every day for as long as it takes.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We publish experts who know the platforms who are the top in the field, Amy Porterfield for Facebook Influence and James Wedmore for Video Traffic Academy. I know a lot about those platforms but I’m not the best so we want to give our audience the best. They’ve got their own products but they didn’t have a big audience so we help sell it for them to a bigger audience. We have lots of affiliates so we can have them promoted as well and they wanted to be more well-known so we were able to do that through our channels.
Our three core products which are basically LinkedIn, Facebook, and YouTube where we show people how to get more leads, traffics, and sales for those three major sites. We’ve also got a webinar marketing course which teaches people, if you’ve got expertise or a passion, or something that you want to share with people, how to get your message across through webinars and then monetize those webinars. We’ve also got a membership site which is weekly content for small business owners and entrepreneurs called the Social Marketing Tribe which basically gives lessons, webinars, videos, content, to help them get more leads, traffics, and sales and there’s a membership form where they can communicate with us and ask us any questions. We have done bigger events in the past. We have coaching. We’ve got a lot of different things we’re doing.
It was a huge blessing because it gave me a different channel to really share my message more and I think what keeps me motivated is the value to help people out and really see their dreams come true. As cheesy as that sounds, I get emails every day from people who are just like, “I use your strategy. I applied this method, or I took action on what you told me to do and I made this much more money.” I feel a sense of freedom that I was finally able to figure out how to monetize my passion or my inspiration and I can step away from the stuff that I don’t like. I can have more freedom and flexibility and l can enjoy the lifestyle that I’ve always wanted to live.”
I think when I get those messages from people, that’s one of the things that really inspired me to continue creating information that helps people live that way and also, being able to create the lifestyle for myself. I’ve always been the type of guy that wants to do exactly what I want, when I want to do it and not having to rely on anyone else to live a certain way. Making sure that I can live a lifestyle I want to live inspires me to continue and also helping as many people as well live their lives that they want.
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.
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.
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.
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.