By: Zeb Welborn, founder of Welborn Media
On February 26, 2013, I made a connection on LinkedIn that impacted my life forever.
Since February 26, 2013, I have made a name for myself in the golf course industry. I wrote a book with John Hakim, owner of Greenskeeper.org, called The Social Golf Course. I have spoken at the Crittenden Golf Conference, the California Golf Course Owner’s Association, at the KemperSports Golf Management Company regional meeting, and appeared on numerous golf-related radio shows, podcasts, and blogs. And, I have landed numerous golf courses as clients for my business and been much better at retaining those clients for longer periods of time.
All of this was made through one connection I made on LinkedIn about a year and a half ago.
Using LinkedIn to reach and maintain customers is easier than you think.
LinkedIn is Your Digital Rolodex (Only 1,000 times better)
Facebook is for everyone. Twitter is for connecting with experts or people trying to become experts. And LinkedIn is for your business contacts.
Whenever you exchange business cards with another professional, the first thing you should do is email them to say how nice it was to meet them . . . and the second thing you should do is to connect to them on LinkedIn.
All too often, we meet people at a networking function, interact with them briefly, exchange business cards and never speak to each other again. Since I started my business, I have handed out more than 2,000 business cards and have had a handful of people reach out to me afterwards. I have also received 2,000 business cards and have reached out to 2,000 people through email and through LinkedIn.
And that has made all the difference.
By storing all your contacts on LinkedIn, you have the potential to be seen by them regularly and when an opportunity comes up that you might be a good fit for, your LinkedIn contacts will think of you. It’s a really simple and easy thing to do to stay in touch with all of your business contacts, and not miss out on developing those relationships which you intended on having when you went to that networking event in the first place.
Update Your Profile Regularly to Increase Your Exposure
Now that you’ve come up with a strategy to connect with other people on LinkedIn, you need to be active on your LinkedIn page so your contacts will be reminded of you which you can do in a variety of ways. You can post status updates to your profile anytime you like and these status updates will show up in your contacts news feeds. Post updates, give advice, or share successes about you, your job, your profession, or your business.
A LinkedIn profile is very similar to a resume, only it’s a living breathing document which you can change whenever you feel the need to. Whenever you make a change to your personal profile your contacts will also be updated. In 2013, my business, Welborn Media, was named the 2013 Chino Hills Business of the Year. I updated my profile to reflect my new award and my contacts were notified immediately in a subtle, non-salesy way.
Update your profile regularly to reach new potential customers and make your current customers aware of the wonderful things you’re doing to help others.
Use LinkedIn Groups to Reach More Customers and Build Influence in Your Industry
LinkedIn groups are a great way to connect with influencers in your industry and to demonstrate your expertise to your potential customers.
To check out LinkedIn groups that may be right for you login to LinkedIn and search for industry keywords/terms in the search bar at the top of LinkedIn and change the filter to Groups. A search of the keyword Facebook resulted in 3,998 results for groups inside of LinkedIn. If I was interested in learning or discussing Facebook with other like-minded individuals, that would be a great place to go.
One of my niches is in the golf industry, so I’m active in five LinkedIn groups on golf. Each of these groups have members that are golf course owners and/or operators – my target market. To reach them, I regularly post questions, engage them through messaging, and build awareness by commenting on their posts.
LinkedIn groups have been a great tool for me to reach more customers and build influence in my industry.
It’s Not What You Know, It’s Who You Know
Probably the coolest feature for me on LinkedIn is finding prospects through the LinkedIn search feature. As mentioned previously, the target market for my social media for golf courses program is golf course owners and operators. Typically, the ones who would be making the hiring decisions for golf courses would be the Golf Course General Manager.
To search for my target market, I login to LinkedIn and type Golf General Manager in the search bar using the “people” filter. And this is what comes up:
As you can see my results turn up 228,618 people who are General Managers in the Golf Course Industry.
When you search for keywords LinkedIn will automatically show up the ones that seem most relevant to your search the highest. If you look closely, you will see the word 2nd next to every name on the list. The “2nd” means I have a 2nd degree connection to that person. This means that one or more of the people I am already connected to is also connected to that person. Eric Fisher and I, for example, share 42 connections in common.
Since Eric is the General Manager/Director of Golf at Apple Valley Golf Course, he is a perfect potential client for me. If I click on the 42 shared connections that he and I share in common, LinkedIn will show me a list of all those people who are connected with him and me.
“It’s not what you know. It’s who you know.”
By using LinkedIn you can use your connections to create opportunities to get in front of potential customers. An example of an email you can send to your shared connection could be:
I see you’re good friends with Eric Fisher. I think I can really help him out. Do you think you could introduce me via email?
This is an easy, unimposing way to meet and connect with people you’d like to do business with.
How I met Jay Miller on LinkedIn
I interviewed a good friend of mine, David Kramer, General Manager of Los Serranos Country Club on the Defining Success Podcast early in 2013 and posted my conversation with him in the Golf Industry Professionals group on LinkedIn, and one commenter really stood out.
I clicked on his profile –
His profile read:
Thirty years of experience in the golf industry. A knack for developing partnerships and devising new avenues of marketing, sales, branding and distribution of golf courses & related products. Twelve years experience as a golf course owner and or operator, with one property recognized as the 2011 National Golf Course of the Year. Co-Founder and CEO of a nationally recognized golf foundation for area youth. Adept and comfortable speaking publicly about growing the game of golf and other industry topics.
* Past President of the California Golf Course Owners Association
* Founder and Past CEO of the Get A Grip Foundation.
* Past President / Manager of the National Golf Course of the Year, Hidden Valley GC
* 2010 Southern California Korean Golf Association “Man of the Year”
* 2007 Southland Golf & Golf Magazine “One of the Most Giving People in Golf”
* Published: Growing the Game of Golf thesis
* Conference Speaker: USGA, CGCOA, NGCOA, PGA
* “Salesman of the Year” Recipient, ten times
* Past Collegiate Scholarship Golfer – Purdue University
Here was a guy who had 30 years of experience in the golf industry, a former president of the California Golf Course Owner’s Association, the founder/CEO of the Get a Grip Foundation, the President of the National Golf Course of the Year, and a well-connected man in the golf industry. He was definitely someone I wanted to have on my team.
I reached out to Jay to ask him to be a guest on the Defining Success Podcast where we talked about his career and the importance of getting the younger generation to take up the game. The conversation blew up on LinkedIn receiving more than 100 comments and fringe discussions which left a ripple-effect across the community.
Jay introduced me to John Hakim because we shared similar passions. John and I worked together for 6 months to write our book, The Social Golf Course: Increasing Rounds with Social Media. In the book, we talk about how golf courses can use social media to make more money.
John’s business, Greenskeeper.org also became a customer.
The book has led me to work for some of the top golf courses in the country including a top 100 golf course in the United States, a top 20 golf course in California, a California Golf Course of the Year, and a finalist for the National Golf Course of the Year. And it all came from that one connection I made on LinkedIn on February 26, 2013.
Note: The Inland Empire SBDC will be hosting the seminar “Marketing your Small Business with LinkedIn” presented by Zeb Welborn on Tuesday, Nov. 4 at the Carolyn Owens Community Center in Chino. Admission is free, sponsored by the City of Chino. Register today to save your seat for this SBDC Training Event!
Zeb Welborn is the owner of Welborn Media, 19th Hole Media, and The Tutoring Solution. He is the Host of the Defining Success Podcast and the author of The Social Golf Course. If you found this article insightful and/or helpful, download free Welborn Media’s Top 5 Free Internet Marketing Tools for businesses and learn the free tools Zeb uses to run his Internet marketing business.