Lewis Howes is 26 and has already been featured in things like ESPN and Fast Company because of his expertise with LinkedIn. Lewis graduated Principia College in 2005 but not before spending some time at both Southwest Minnesota State University and Capital University. He had never looked past playing pro football until a career ending injury made him look to other options leading him to LinkedIn…
What is your background/story before you started a company? Previous jobs? Career path?
I went from being a two sport All-American in college, to playing Arena Football after I graduated. After one year of playing professional football, I had a career ending injury. It left me in a full arm cast for six months, with another 8 months of rehab following that.
I have never worked a “career” job longer than two months in my entire life. I couldn’t get motivated building someone else’s empire, and honestly don’t like other people telling me I can’t do something.
I hate the feeling of losing more than anything. I’ve trained my mind and body in any necessary ways so I can be the best competitor at all times. I think this holds true in both sports and the business world.
Did you set-out to be an entrepreneur? What gave you the push?
I really never thought past playing professional football, it was the main goal I wanted to achieve after college. Preparing for a job wasn’t even something that crossed my mind.
After football I know I needed to earn a living. I was sleeping on my sister’s couch for a year during recovery trying to figure out what I wanted to do next. I looked at various job opportunities but never followed up with any of them. I knew deep down it wasn’t something I was passionate about.
I never set out to be an entrepreneur, I just knew I needed to generate an income and that I didn’t want to do that by making money for someone else.
What companies have you started or were involved in the start?
I co-founded a manufacturing company along with a famous inventor, Chris Hawker of www.trident-design.com. We developed cushioned cast covers to help make the experience of having broken bones more comfortable.
Later, I worked to create and co-found Ripple Results, LLC, an interactive and social media-marketing firm.
Now I’m in the process of starting my third company which includes educational training on social media, online marketing, and more.
You talk a lot about LinkedIn. Why do you think LinkedIn is such a great resource?
It is the number one business site on the planet, hands down. At the time of this interview there are more than 55 million users on LinkedIn. It has the highest average household income over any other major social networking site; almost 50% of the members are business decision makers. LinkedIn also continues to update its platform to make it easier and easier to manage your contacts and build your business.
When it comes down to it, the only thing that matters in business is relationships. LinkedIn is the best free resource you can use to strengthen your connections.
Do you have some tips or common mistakes so people can better use LinkedIn?
1. Make sure you fill out your profile 100%
2. Have a clear message and tell people who you are, who you help, and how you help them throughout your profile description.
3. Always send a personalized message when you invite someone to connect. This will strengthen the relationship.
4. Connect people when you see they can mutually benefit from one another.
5. Add everyone as a connection (even competitors)
6. Add key words in your profile to move up on the search rankings
7. Join and create niche groups
I could go on and on… but I have a ton more tips at www.lewishowes.com or in my book LinkedWorking.
What do you think the key was to becoming a recognized LinkedIn expert and featured in things like ESPN and Fast Company at only 26?
I mastered how to effectively use LinkedIn over every other person who talks about about it. I put my theories into practice and went around the country hosting LinkedIn events, speaking weekly on the subject, conducting webinars and writing articles. I used these methods to teach others, sell products, generate leads for my business, help people land jobs, promote my services, and more.
1. Mastering The Craft: In this case, how to use LinkedIn to achieve your goals
2. Taking Massive Action: I was active every day to learn and produce more
3. Adding Value: I took pride in helping others as much as possible
4. Building Strong Relationships: It’s all about relationships for me
5. Following Through: None of the above matters unless you follow through
What have you found to be the hardest thing about being an entrepreneur?
For me the best part about being an entrepreneur is having the freedom to do whatever I want, whenever I want to do it. The hardest part is this as well, as you need to be efficient with your time spent. It’s tough to manage your own actions with no one is looking over your shoulder.
If you could give 1 piece of advice to a young entrepreneur today what would it be?
Don’t be afraid of your biggest dreams, just go after them.
Care to brag at all? User numbers? Sales numbers? Big achievements?
I’ll keep the bragging on the field. My biggest sports accomplishment is that I still hold the record for the most receiving yards in a single football game with 418 yards (an unofficial world record on all levels of amateur, collegiate, and professional).
Favorite business book?
The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss
What are your next steps? Either business or personal
Do my first million in sales in a six month period, continue to master new sports, complete more MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) training and become a professional salsa dancer. I want to make my next book a NY Times Best Seller while inspiring thousands of people along the way.
Where can people find you online? Twitter, facebook, email etc…
You can find everything you need to contact me at www.lewishowes.comSubscribe to the Podcast