Inbound Now #10 - Using LinkedIn for business with Lewis Howes

This week Lewis Howes joins us to share his tips and best practices for using LinkedIn to grow and promote your Business.

This time around we chat about:

  • Where to start with when getting into LinkedIn
  • Some common mistakes people make and how to avoid them
  • How to leverage Linkedin Groups
  • & How to build these activities into your daily workflow


David: Hey everybody, welcome to Episode Number 10 of Inbound Now. Today I have a very special guest with us, Mr. Lewis Howes. Lewis is the author of two books, “LinkedWorking” and “LinkedIn Master Strategies.” He’s the founder of He’s a professional speaker, covering a variety of social media topics, but mostly focusing on how individuals and businesses can leverage LinkedIn to grow their businesses and personal brands and what have you. So, welcome to the show, Lewis.

Lewis: Thanks, David. How you doing man?

David: I’m doing good. It’s a nice snowy day here in Boston.

Lewis: Nice.

David: Yeah. I wanted to get you on the show here to talk about, you know, some people are relatively new to LinkedIn. I want to kind of talk about where they should start getting into LinkedIn; some common mistakes that people make that they should avoid. Then there’s some fan-submitted questions that I’m going to shoot at you, kind of a rapid-fire thing. Then we’ll talk about how you have personally leveraged building up LinkedIn groups and some best practices around that. Sound good?

Lewis: Sounds perfect.

David: All right, cool. You start out your book, “LinkedWorking,” with the statement, a lot of people say this to you, “LinkedIn doesn’t work.” What’s your response to this?

Lewis: I tell people that it only works as much as you put into making it work. A lot of people tell me, you know tell me if this is something that you might have done for a while, David. A lot of people set up their profile, they get an invite to LinkedIn and they set their profile and then they just let it sit for months. They say it doesn’t work because they’re not getting any leads or business or they’re finding a job. Really, it’s because they’re not putting the energy into connecting with people and advancing their profile and joining groups, creating their own group, creating conversations with people in groups. Really the more you put into it the more you’re going to get out of it. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

David: Right. Yeah, and I am one of those people guilty of … I’m an early adopter of most social networks, right? I signed up, filled out my profile to 100%, and then just kind of sat there. I really was missing the value in LinkedIn. Your book kind of opened my eyes to a couple of things that I was missing out on. What are some of the biggest mistakes you see people making on LinkedIn?

Lewis: Some of the basics would be people don’t fill out their profile 100%. It just looks poor. When you Google your name, your LinkedIn profile is usually one of the top five things that shows up on Google. Sometimes the top three, top one, you never know how many articles you have out there and who’s been writing about you. But for most people it’s top five. If anyone’s ever trying to buy a product from or hire you as a consultant or hire you for whatever, a job, then they’re going do research on you and your LinkedIn profile is going to show up eventually.

If it’s not filled out 100%, if they’re aren’t recommendations of people vouching for you, showing some social proof or creditability about what you’ve done before, you don’t have a picture, if you just don’t have anything, if you have misspellings, things like that, then it’s just going to look pretty poor. So you want to make sure you have it filled out 100%. It’s really basic and a lot of people should already know this, but I see people missing that point a lot. So the first thing is to fill it out 100%.

David: True. So would you say that it’s kind of an extension of your two page resume, or is it something completely different?

Lewis: It’s like your resume on steroids, really. I think the resume is kind of out of style. But I have no idea. I don’t even have a resume. I’m not in the market to find a job. I have some friends who just use their LinkedIn profile to find a job without having a resume. They’ve made it look nice enough that people have hired off that alone. It’s extremely powerful. Obviously, now they’ve got over 100 million members. They’ve more than doubled membership from last year. They’re about to go public soon. It’s obviously not as big Facebook, but they’re a player to be reckoned with; one of the top 25 sites in the world. It’s extremely powerful and people go on LinkedIn to … you know, there’s a different mindset when people go on LinkedIn and when they go on another social networking site. When they go on Facebook, it’s more like let’s hang out with our friends, let’s check out pictures and images, obviously, videos. Some people go there for business, but some people just go there to hang out.

But when you go on LinkedIn, the mindset switches and it’s primarily focused on who can I find to help me to do something in business? How can I find more leads, more customers, more sales? How can I advertise my business? How can I drive more traffic to my website, my sales pages, things like that? There’s only one main focus, and it’s building a business or something around professional careers. It’s a little different.

David: Right. So taking that and kind of turning it, because now you can have a company profile page, how can people best leverage that company page?

Lewis: At the moment, LinkedIn is doing a lot of things to make the platform better. I see my video going in and out, so hopefully, it’s not a big deal. LinkedIn is doing a lot of things to make their platform better, to make the site better, to enhance it for business professionals and businesses. At the moment, the company page is a lot better than what it used to be a few months ago, and they’re adding more resources and tools. Now you can have recommendations about your products, your services. You can add videos to your company page. You can have links to your site back to it so people can review. You can add all sorts of things that help enhance your company and your company image or brand.

I think they’re going to continue to do a lot more in the near future to make it better. As of now, just fill out a company page. You don’t want to have your own company profile per see. You want to create a personal profile and then have a company page attached to that profile. There are ways to add videos, articles, and all sorts of things to drive people back to that company page, which I think it will be as powerful, if not more powerful than the Facebook fan page probably in the next 6 to 12 months with some of things I think they’re doing.

David: Okay, yeah. So it’s kind of in its infancy right now, but moving on into the future, it will be more like that the fan page where there’s more interaction and what have you. Okay, cool.

Lewis: Right now, yeah, you can follow other company pages and things like that. It’s kind of like a “like” but it’s a little different.

David: Right. Yeah, I saw that, and I was wondering like, okay, so now you can follow companies on LinkedIn, but I wasn’t really sure where the value was in it. Okay, interesting. Cool. A fan question here, Michael Reya asked, “Where do we start and is there any quick wins to prove the value of LinkedIn?”

Lewis: Where do we start with LinkedIn?

David: I mean, yeah, you kind of already talked about that, but are there some quick wins that you can do right off the bat to prove value? A lot of these companies, they have to prove the ROI as it were.

Lewis: Sure. Here’s the thing. Everyone’s got to ask themselves the same question, and it is, “What are my goals or what are my professional career goals and my business goals?” Because you can’t just go on LinkedIn and say, do this, do that, do this, because you’ve got to know exactly what it is you want. So if people want to get more leads, traffic, or sales, then they’re got to approach it a different way than someone who is looking for a job. Usually, for a lot of people, they want to know how to build their business from most of the people that I talk to.

If that’s the case, then joining groups of people who are your customers. If you are, let’s say, a realtor, a real estate investor and you want to reach out to all these other real estate agents or potential buyers, then you want to join all the real estate groups, real estate investor groups; things like that and maybe entrepreneur groups in a local market so you can find people who have the money, who want to invest in your properties. You can find other realtors and do more deals, things like that.

You want to join these groups in your industry or in your niche, but you also want to create your own group. Those who are the owners of the groups or create their own group are allowed to send a message once a week to all the members of the group. It’s basically like a free email marketing provider. It’s got 100% deliverability. It’s very powerful and it allows you to basically build an email list for free. One of the groups that I have, for example, is over 35,000 members of sports executives. So it allows me to kind of be that authority figure, send out updates weekly to the members, but it’s also a free email marketing provider, basically.

David: Right. So, yeah, that was actually one of my questions. Talking about groups, is it better to join an existing group if one already exists in your industry or niche, or is it better to create your own?

Lewis: You want to join all the different groups that are in your niche or industry and then create your own. If there’s one that already kind of like a dominating group that already has tens of thousands of members, then what I would do is create a group similar to that but in a regional market, so in a state or in a city or town or whatever. Just add a city or a state name at the end of the title and build that up. Become the expert or the go to resource in your area, because there’s a lot of business in a local market as well. That’s what I would do.

David: You mention on your blog the ten reasons to start a LinkedIn group. It helps build thought leadership and direct traffic and build your personal brand. Again, that email, you can reach into them via that once a week email.

Lewis: Exactly, exactly. It’s very popular. For me LinkedIn groups is probably one of the biggest assets I have online. I have about ten different groups that I’ve created in local markets, different niches, things like that. I mean, it’s probably 70,000 emails total that I can send messages to absolutely for free from the most targeted business professionals in the world.

LinkedIn has an average household income of $109,000 per member, and 45% of its users are actual business decision makers. Now that’s higher than,, Twitter, Facebook members, everything else. You’re dealing with people who make decisions and have money to buy things, and they’re focusing on business when they’re on the site. It’s a great asset where you can get in front of people that are focusing on that type of situation.

David: Definitely. So, if you have ten groups, how do you manage that? Do you have a specific content strategy for each group?

Lewis: Yes. I used to throw LinkedIn networking events, live LinkedIn networking events around the country. I’d create these groups to build an audience in the local markets. That way I could promote these events to and kind of build my business that way around the country. Now, I pretty much just send a weekly message. I try to send weekly messages to them all, to free resources, free articles, free webinars, guides, downloads, eBooks, just different content that’s going to help the members for that niche kind of build their business or achieve their goals as well. So, for me, I’m just trying to become a better resource, promote the members, and give them content that I think they’ll like and appreciate to help them. So that’s kind of my goal.

David: Okay, cool. One of the things I noticed when I first tried out LinkedIn, I joined a lot of groups, but I noticed that there was a lot of spam and self-promotion and what have you. What do you do to kind of police that or make sure that the quality’s there in these groups?

Lewis: You know, it’s tough especially when you have thousands of members and there’s some spam coming in every day. I like to accept everyone, so they automatically are accepted into my group no matter what. You can make it so you have to accept one by one, each person that wants to join the group. However, that takes more time to manage. For me, I like to automate things. Anytime someone joins the group, I’ve got one group that probably gets about 100 plus members a day joining. Every time they join the group, they get an automated welcome message that I create in the backend that sends them to, basically, my site, my newsletter opt-in, my social networks, and I try to get them into my funnel that way.

If they start spamming the group, other members flag a lot of the content or the updates. So they’re kind of self-policing the group, which is really nice. Then I kind of go on there once a week and delete the spam messages and delete the members that are not really providing value. You can kind of bring on an assistant to be a group manager and things like that if you want to. But I like to automate things and I’ll just correct it later just because it saves time.

David: Got you. So in the book, in one of the chapters you talk about how you use LinkedIn on a daily basis. You defined your goal first, right?

Lewis: Yeah.

David: So how exactly do you, on a daily basis, because a lot of people will join LinkedIn and then join a couple of groups and then just kind of forget about it, like we talked about earlier. How do you build it into your daily workflow, to maximize productivity?

Lewis: Sure. For me, a lot of what I do is I’m wanting to build an email list, generate more leads, drive more traffic, and get more sales or more publicity or speaking gigs, things like that. The main thing is more leads, traffic, and sales for my business, because it’s mostly an online business. What I try to do is create top of mind awareness, all the time. I want people to, every time someone connects with me, I add everyone. I’ve got over 10,000 connections which isn’t that many compared to some, but for some it’s a lot. I want all those members to see my name every single day.

The best way to do that is to sync my Twitter account and just automatically post updates from content articles from my blog, other resources, and just have it feeding through there so it’s on the homepage of everyone I’m connected to. They see my name. They associate LinkedIn tips, LinkedIn training, other things and my name.

Whenever anyone has a question or they want to get more training, they can go to my site, buy my book, buy my training courses, things like that. It just creates more top-of-mind awareness for me. That’s an easy way to do that. Another way to get kind of top-of-mind awareness automated is to add an RSS feed to the groups that you create. Every time I post a new article, it automatically gets fed to all the members of my 30,000 plus member groups, my 10,000 member groups. So it’s driving traffic back to my site, putting them through my funnel on my site as well.

Connecting with people. Just every time you accept someone as a friend, you show up on the home profile of everyone they’re connected to and everyone you’re connected to that you’ve connected. Just kind of being active a little bit. You can also create discussion in groups, things like that, to stay active. Try to automate as much as possible.

David: Right, okay. Some of the things you mention in your book, you try to invite five important or influential, interesting people into your network each week. That’s pretty actionable, right? That’s something that you can do on a weekly basis. Recommend one person per week, kind of give to get kind of sort of thing. Interesting. Another fan question.

Lewis: I like that you’ve read my book. This is good.

David: I read all the books on my desk. I actually, I just interviewed Phil Simon and he said after the interview, “Thanks, you definitely read my book, man.”

Lewis: I know, it’s awesome.

David: That’s actually one of my goals for the show. Read the book. I learn that way, and I get to talk with smart people. Another fan question for you, from Karen Baglen, she asks, “How does LinkedIn into a company’s overall social media strategy because a lot of brands are using Facebook and Twitter? But how and at what level have you seen companies incorporating LinkedIn into their strategy?”

Lewis: It really all depends on the goal of the company, but just a couple of quick examples. One of my friends, he’s got a small business and he’s using LinkedIn ads. He’s been using Facebook ads for a while. LinkedIn ads just came out of beta recently. Before, they had some limitations for what you could use for the LinkedIn ads, but now they’re expanding the options, which allows you to target more people a lot easier. He said that he’s seen double the conversion. It costs a little more for advertising on LinkedIn, but he’s seen double the conversion for buyers for his products and services. He’s saying that LinkedIn ads is way better than Facebook at the moment. It makes sense because of the user base and the mindset.

Another way that, kind of another case study, a friend of mine who’s a web designer, a graphics designer, he’s got a small web design company. He’s got a couple of employees. He’s got a lot that he’s currently working on all the time. He doesn’t have a lot of time to do marketing all over the Web or any other type of direct marketing. He just doesn’t have a lot of time because he’s working with his clients. However, he wants more clients. What he does is answer questions three times a week for about 15 minutes day. So about 45 to 60 minutes a week, he goes in and answers email marketing, web design questions, how to build website questions. There are different categories in the answer section. The more he answers, he gets a lot of people follow-up with him. He also replies privately to them. Just basically tries to be a resource for them. He tries to get them on the phone and offer them a 15 minute free consultation.

When you think about it for a second, when other professionals or businesses are asking questions on LinkedIn, they have a specific pain point at that moment. How do I build a website? How do I do this, how do I do that? My IT’s down, and this and that, right? They have a specific pain point that needs to be solved right now. If you can offer them the best resource, the best answer, the best information and be extremely helpful to them, without trying to sell them but just being helpful, that’s the most targeted buyer or anyone who’s going to hire you at anytime is when they’re asking a pain question. There’s just a couple of examples right there.

David: Right, absolutely. I mean answering those questions and it’s just going to build your credibility as well, as long as you’re answering them without the sales pitch in the message.

Lewis: What my friend does is he tries to give the best answer overall. He doesn’t try to sell anything. He’ll give some resources, links for free. He does that publicly so everyone can see his answer and that it will hopefully get rated best answer and move him up the ranking in his category. But also, he clicks the reply privately button on that question section also and just sends them a message saying, “Hey, if you want some help, here’s my number. Give me a call. I’m happy to do a 10 to 15 minute consulting and just see if I can help out in any way. I won’t sell you anything.”

It’s just like a little follow-up, get them on the phone when they’re really painful. If you’re the most helpful person for them, why wouldn’t they work with you?

David: Right, exactly, and that’s just like one of the cardinal rules of social media – be listening to what people are saying. Whether it’s on LinkedIn or Twitter, people are asking these questions that you know the answer to. Whatever industry you’re in, whatever business you’re in, if you’re there being helpful, I mean you’re just going to stay top-of-mind, and you’re more likely to grab that sale than the person that they don’t know.

Lewis: Exactly.

David: Cool. So, on your blog you mention how to optimize your profile and what have you. You talk about adding some advanced applications to your profile. What would be some of your favorite applications to add?

Lewis: There are three main applications that I love. One is the, if you’re an author, you want to add the Amazon application. This allows you to put an image of your book on your profile. It allows you to get more sales and kind of more credibility, so the Amazon application.

If you’re an event planner, you’re going to want to use the Event Application. It allows you to kind of promote your events. I think LinkedIn is the best place to use to promote any event, virtual or in person event. The events section goes very viral when people register. It sends, basically, a message. It doesn’t send them a message, but it shows up on the home profile all their contacts. It really spreads viral if you can get a couple hundred to RSVP right away.

Another one that is a must for businesses, if you have your own blog, if you have a business blog, then you need to add the WordPress App which allows you to feed your RSS feed from your most recent articles from your site. People come to your profile, they see the articles, they can click, drive traffic back to your site and get to know you more.

My last one, a favorite one, would be the Slide Share App which, all these apps are free to download by the way, but the Slide Share App allows you to add a video to your LinkedIn profile. Imagine, when you think about LinkedIn, David, and you go to people’s profiles, what’s kind of the first thing that comes to mind when you go to probably 99% of profiles, how do they look to you?

David: They look kind of spammy and like, oh, I did this and I’m really good and awesome at my job.

Lewis: They either look like a really weird resume with all these bullet points and like I did this in sales. So, it’s either like a resume or it’s just really boring. In my mind, they’re all really boring, a lot of them, except for the students that go through my training of course.

The best way, I think, to break that mold or break that boring kind of look and feel is having a video. Imagine, David, what it would be like if you went to a profile and you were searching for someone to help you with something. You find them, you go to their profile, and within three seconds, their voice just pops up and they’re like, “Thanks so much for checking out my LinkedIn profile. Go ahead and scroll down the page. I’ve got a video right here I want to share with you for a second. I just want to tell you a little about who I am, who I help, and how I can help you specifically right now. For the next 60 seconds, this is what you’re going to learn.” Then you just kind of go on your spiel about your company, how you’ve helped people, maybe you had a testimonial from one of your clients in there. What would that be like if you go to all of these boring or spammy looking profiles and then all of a sudden there’s a video that pops up? It’s kind of a personal touch, a personal introduction for anyone that lands on your page.

David: I think that would be good. Is that actually an app that exists right now?

Lewis: There’s a little sneaky way to do it. If you go to my profile, you can see how it’s done. You need to download the Slide Share Application, and I actually have an article on my site. It’s called “How to Add a Video to your LinkedIn Profile.” It’s kind of step-by-step. You add a Slide Share Application, which is free. Then you need to add a YouTube link to the first slide, before the first slide of the application of your presentation. It will auto play the video when people land on it. So it’s pretty cool.

David: Interesting. That’s actually a really good tip. I didn’t know you could do that. I notice that on your Facebook fan page you also have that kind of intro video, hey, kind of telling about what you do and just kind of the quick elevator pitch. You talk about it in the book as well. You want your profile, your LinkedIn profile to be your elevator pitch, quick, snappy, not boring. I think that’s a great tip.

Lewis: The best thing you can do on your profile is tell people who you are, who you help, and how you help them. On the headline first, which is the first thing people see. Then in the summary, the specialties and kind of throughout your entire profile, but be consistent. Tell people who you are, who you help, and how you help them in the least amount of words possible, but the most compelling amount of words. That’s just going to get your message across to the right person. If they’re not interested, they’re going to know right away that you’re not for them, and they’re going to go on to someone else. So just keep it simple.

David: Another thing that you talk about on your blog, SEO for your LinkedIn profile and kind of for the in LinkedIn search, not really for Google. What are some tips there on how to optimize your profile to be found easier in search?

Lewis: What if you, you know, you’re a marketing guy, right, David?

David: I am.

Lewis: Okay. What if when you typed in Google or anyone typed on Google marketing expert or marketing tips or marketing help and your website and your profile was the first thing that showed up? How would that make you feel?

David: That would be pretty awesome, and I would be a lot richer than I am today.

Lewis: You’d feel like a multi-millionaire, wouldn’t you be?

David: Yeah.

Lewis: Exactly. So what if that could happen where anytime someone typed in those same things only then when people are going on LinkedIn to find marketing consultants, marketing experts, marketing help, marketing tips, what if you were the first thing that showed up out of 100 million searches, 100 million profiles, you were the first one that showed up every single time, how would that make you feel?

David: I mean, it would be great. So how would that actually happen?

Lewis: Exactly. There’s a way to do that, and basically what you need to do is add the keywords in your profile in five main places that you want to rank higher for. If it’s marketing consultant, let’s say for you. Let’s just say marketing consultant because people are looking consultants, experts, coaches, things like that to find to help, hire, and get advice, things like that. You want to do like marketing consultant or maybe even social media marketing consultant or something like that. You want to have those same keywords, marketing consultant, in five main places.

One would be your headline. This is the first thing that pops up. When people do any type of keyword research on LinkedIn, they’ll go to the top right-hand corner of your profile, they’ll say people, there will be a little search bar. Type in marketing consultant and a bunch of names will show up. The first thing you’ll see is the headline and the picture and the name of all these people. The headline is the most important thing because it is the first result that pops up. You need to have marketing consultant in your headline.

The second place you need to have it is in your current work experience. What you’re currently doing in business is the most relevant thing, probably, as opposed to your past work experience. If you have it in the current, it’s going to help you to rank higher because it has more relevance. Put it the past work experience as well, that’s the third place. It will help it rank higher. So, put it in the description and the title of your current and past work experience.

Then in your summary, put marketing consultant. In your specialties area, put marketing consultant. By adding in those five main places, it will help you rank up, hopefully, to the first page and maybe even in the top five results.

David: Interesting. I didn’t know there was that way to game the system. That makes sense.

Lewis: I’ve probably spent 5,000 to 10,000 hours on LinkedIn testing everything. I’ve kind of figured all this stuff out.

David: Nice. Cool. Basically, for the few that have been listening into this interview and now that are fired up to get back in there and give LinkedIn another shot …

Lewis: Yes.

David: … what would you say the number one takeaway would be for those people?

Lewis: You know what’s really cool about LinkedIn that I love, which I feel like everyone should know this but every time I say it, some people say they never knew this? Is that, what would you say is your biggest asset? Besides your personal brand and your personality and kind of you, what is your biggest asset for your business? What would you say?

David: In your blog or your, I mean, I don’t know.

Lewis: How about your database or your connections?

David: Oh, right, your in-house list.

Lewis: Database, list, your email list, your mailing list, whatever it is that you use to promote stuff, right?

David: Right.

Lewis: Would you agree that’s your biggest asset for most businesses?

David: Yeah. I mean, that’s what you own, especially if Facebook or Twitter were to go away. You own that, so that is a huge asset, yeah.

Lewis: So on LinkedIn is the only social networking site, the only major social networking site where you can click one button and export all of your contacts, first name, last name, and email address. Facebook, you can’t do that. Twitter, you can’t do that. YouTube, MySpace, you can’t do that. On LinkedIn, it allows you to do that. I’ve got over 10,000 contacts, connections on LinkedIn, and I can click one button, export it to a CSV file, import that into an email marketing provider or some type of database management system and I have access to those emails forever. It’s mine.

If LinkedIn sells or they shut down or whatever happens, I always have access to that list. If my Twitter account goes down or they change something, I’ll never have those followers again. You can only have 5,000 friends on Facebook, and you can’t export your connections’ email addresses or their contact information, not in an easy way, anyway. LinkedIn allows you to have tens of thousands of connections and export it in one simple click. So it’s pretty cool.

David: That is a good tip. Yeah, I forget who said it, but you live or die by your mailing list.

Lewis: Exactly.

David: I think it was Jeff Pulver or Christopher Penn [SP]. I don’t know. One of the two. They’re both smart guys. That’s an awesome tip. So, Lewis, where can people find you online?

Lewis: Best place to go is You can connect with me everywhere online. I’ve got all my information on there and where to connect with me, and that’s the best place right now,

David: Okay, cool. I’m going to find you there and I’m going to connect with you on LinkedIn. How about that?

Lewis: Sounds great, man, I’m excited about it.

David: All right. Well, thanks for coming on the show, and we hope to get you back sometime to talk about some more LinkedIn strategy stuff.

Lewis: Sounds great, David. Thanks so much, man.

David: Thanks.