Marketer: Dive Into Social Media Now

by Howard W. Hewitt

January 28, 2010

Lewis Howes is a former professional athlete and self-made social media guru. He told a group of Wabash students Thursday night that social networking sites can change their lives.

After using example after example of people who've established a personal brand online, he was very direct.

"I don't think you guys understand the power of the internet and social media," he said. "If you don't get on LinkedIn and Twitter now you're going to be far behind. If you don't take action you're going to be sitting at home and regretting it after you graduate.

"Take action! If you don't know how to use these sites, employers are not going to want you. It's changed my life in exactly one year and it started with just being on LinkedIn."

Howes used the power of LinkedIn to create a network of sports executives. His marketing email list has grown to 23,000. It all started when his Arena League Football career came to an end with a broken wrist. He couldn't work out so he'd spend hours every day online studying networks.

"Connecting individuals is one of the ways to get what you want," he said. "I connect people who can help each other. By helping people in my network, the big executives, it's always going to come back around and help me."

He told the students he has turned down job after job because he enjoys the freedom of his internet sites, speaking engagements, and event marketing opportunities.

The formula is simple, he suggested. Have a primary site like a blog or web presence and then use that site to feed content to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or other sites. The keys to success are developing a brand, consistency, the right niche, protecting your brand and growing a network.

He shared numerous examples of how his network has returned dividends big and small. After his noon talk Thursday, his photo and a short story was posted on the Wabash website. He tweeted about it and before the afternoon was over heard from an Indiana University student who had been following him on Twitter. She issued an invitation to speak to the school's Sports Management program.

Howes was invited to speak at Wabash because sophomore Adam Miller '12 works in Career Services and was receiving the SportsMarketer newsletter.

He started his program by talking about one of the most successful marketer in social media, Gary Vaynerchuk. Vaynerchuk's family owns a New Jersey wine shop that was doing $4-5 million yearly in wine sales. Vaynerchuk started an off-beat daily wine video blog, built his brand through social media and in just a few years has grown his business to $60 million annually.

He also cited successful, and self-made, internet marketers Dan Schawbel, Chris Brogan, Ryan Stephens, Nate Riggs, and Christy Hammond.

At his noon presentation he conducted an informal question and answer session. He explained how he started his business while at home nursing his broken wrist.

“I’d spend six to eight hours a day interviewing top sports management people,” he explained. “You can work in anything you want if you build up the right network.”
He offered the students, many of them athletes, tips on how to approach executives, find internships, and build a personal network and brand.
“I’m so big on social media. It’s so big and we’re just scratching the surface,” he said. “You can promote yourself at absolutely no cost.”
Howes has written a book about LinkedIn and how to use it to your advantage. Among his many other interests is his Sports Networker site that draws the attention of hundreds of sports executives.
He  was a two-sport collegiate athlete and NCAA All-Division Record holder for 418 receiving yards in a single football game. He played football at Principia College and Capital with a degree in Sports Management.


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