Why Being Helpful Will Attract More Clients

As you put together content to promote to your audience, you may want to hold all of your “good stuff” close to the vest.

Giving away all of your trade secrets may seem counterintuitive. After all, if you tell everyone what you know, they won’t need to hire you … right?

Wrong.

This is a thought many professionals consider as they develop their content, but it couldn’t be further from the truth.

The key, however, is in the targeting. If you have a high-end B2B offer, but you’re targeting startups, you’re going to end up with individuals who try to tailor your advice to their businesses on their own because they can’t afford you. You have to extensively showcase your expertise to the right audience to convert.

(The “right audience” is too busy to perform what you do on their own and has plenty of money to pay you.)

As far as what to say within this “expert content,” use the following guidelines:

1. Ask your target

One of the best things I’ve done in terms of content is ask my target audience what they want to know about my area of expertise. If you’ve never done this before, I will bet money that — upon doing so — you will be blown away by the simplicity of what your audience wants to know.

The reason being, we become very affluent in our area of expertise to the point that we start assuming everyone knows the basics of what we know. This, however, is not even close to being true. I can’t begin to tell you the number of basic LinkedIn features I assumed “everyone” knew only to find out I was one of the only ones.

2. Be basic

Building off of point No. 1, you want to be as basic as possible, but also be complete with your information. Spell out the steps of what you do: how do you come up with a particular sales strategy? How do determine which social media network you leverage for your clients?

You may think you’re giving away too much, but think about it this way: your target does not have the same skill set as you do. If they did, they wouldn’t be your target. As long as you are focused on the right people, all you’re doing when you get detailed is showing how much you know.

3. Help for the sake of helping

If you’ve ever been in a business social media group, you’ve experienced individuals obscenely soliciting at every turn. Susie asks for advice with Facebook ad strategy and Steve volunteers, “I can help, PM me.” Steve is looking for business.

Instead, Steve could say something like, “My clients frequently ask this question and this is what I advise,” or, “I do such-and-such for my clients.” These are helpful responses that (subtly) promote that he is available for paid services.

It’s all about trust …

When you are genuine with your desire to help others, you will attract business. Those who approach content and social media with, “pay me first and then I’ll tell you” turn off people and businesses who know nothing about them.

Now, the idea isn’t to give your services away for free. It’s to be free flowing with your expertise. The more you share, the more you’ll be trusted as an expert, and that will pay dividends.

About Chrissie Wywrot

Chrissie Wywrot is a B2B lead generator and personal brand strategist who works with passionate entrepreneurs and professional athletes. To learn more about her services, visit her LinkedIn profile or email her at chrissie@chrissiewywrot.com.

The 3 Things I Did to Get a Response From a Cold Reach-Out

I was conducting lead generation on behalf of a client and received a response that made me smile. The individual said:

I actually looked at your link because you wrote a very personal and to the point note.

He went on to say that what I was offering wasn’t for him, but the fact that he took the time to respond should speak volumes to you if you’re in sales (and, if you’re an entrepreneur, you’re in sales).

What did I do that was so personal? Three basic things:

1. I read his LinkedIn profile.

Yes, that’s right. I read it. It seems simple and — to some — a waste of time, but it is a few minutes that goes a long way.

As someone who conducts cold reach-outs, when I’m on the receiving end of them, I know exactly why they bother me or why I’m happy to respond:

If you have clearly done your homework (which could mean spending all of three minutes reading my LinkedIn profile) and recognize I’m truly a good fit for what you’re offering, I’m interested … or, at the very least, happy to respond.

If it’s obvious you’ve sent the same message to me that you’re sending to another 100 people, I (shake my head and) move on.

2. I referenced his experiences.

This person had a long career in journalism — it’s clear he’s led an interesting life. When I wrote him a note, I mentioned that. Suddenly, he recognizes I care. He recognizes I took three minutes to read his profile. He recognizes I’m not a bot or an automated system.

I’m seeing him as more than a target.

I’ve read a number of articles lately that talk about solving problems instead of selling services. This is completely true, but let’s take it one step further. We should care about solving those problems. Caring goes a long way, and it can be felt … even through the written word on LinkedIn.

3. I was conversational.

I read a great article today about dealing with objections in sales and agreed with the concept, but the example language used was way too formal and “salesy” for me. My No. 1 tip when it comes to reach-outs: just talk.

Yes, it’s important to be grammatically correct. It’s important to spell things properly. It’s important to sound intelligent. But it’s also important to talk to people as though they’re human beings instead of a statistic.

You can tailor the language to the industry — a doctor will probably respond better to more formal conversation than a life coach — but don’t sound like you copied the text out of a Sales 101 textbook.

In closing …

I truly believe 10 personal reach-outs beat 100 stock reach-outs any day of the week. Yes, there are other factors to being sales savvy, but being personal is No. 1 in my book.

Spend that three minutes reading someone’s LinkedIn profile. Trust me, it’ll pay off.

About Chrissie Wywrot

Chrissie Wywrot is a B2B lead generator and personal brand strategist who works with passionate entrepreneurs and professional athletes. To learn more about her services, visit her LinkedIn profile or email her at chrissie@chrissiewywrot.com.

What I Believe is the Key to Great Sales Success

I love sales, and I’m good at it. But it wasn’t until recently that my “secret” to great sales came up in a conversation.

It was actually during a discovery call with a potential client. We were going over my method for lead generation and this person’s skill for closing sales came up. We went back and forth on the subject, unequivocally agreeing on this fact:

The key isn’t convincing someone to want your product or service; The key is determining whether the person ALREADY wants or needs your product or service and then helping them to recognize it.

The Downside of “Convincing”

If you’ve ever been convinced by a “good salesperson” to buy something you didn’t really want or need, you get it.

Perhaps you were guilted. Maybe you wanted the sales conversation to end. Regardless of the reason, you bought what the individual was selling and then regretted it. You let the product or service go unused and mourned the loss of money wasted.

Whether I’m selling on behalf of myself or a client, I don’t even want to talk to individuals who will end up regretting a purchase. To me, it’s depressing. What I enjoy about business is providing people with products or services they need.

A Different Approach to Sales

How does this change my approach to sales? Quite simply, it makes it better.

Instead of reaching out to people asking them to purchase, I’m reaching out to gauge interest. There is a subtle, yet important, difference here. When you reach out to someone with the tone of, “Hey, what I’m selling is amazing, you should buy it!” it puts people on their heels. They feel affronted and used.

When you reach out with the tone of, “Hey, I’m selling an amazing thing and would love to know if it could be of use to you!” you are shifting gears from focusing on you to focusing on them.

You are filtering through the throngs of people or businesses who fit your ideal target by getting personal. You’re asking if they have a want or need.

Isn’t that nice? They’ll certainly think so.

Why It Works

There are a number of reasons this approach works.

1. Your Prospects Are At Ease

This relaxed, just-checking-to-see-if-you’re-interested approach gets your sales cycle started the right way. Instead of being on the defensive because someone is being a self-absorbed salesperson, your prospect may feel appreciation right out of the gate that you (at least seem to) care.

2. It’s Personal

I don’t have an email list because I consider it impersonal. Whenever I get a stock email from someone that is geared toward selling, I get annoyed and delete it. If someone is trying to sell me with the same message he or she is selling 400 other people, it’s not personal to me. I want to feel special. Reaching out one-on-one to gauge interest with a potential lead makes them feel special.

Disclaimer: Email marketing can absolutely be done “the right way” with this same tone I’m speaking of — in fact, I just subscribed to a service this morning from a great email!

3. You Save Time

This approach can be quick. You’re shooting a quick note to see if someone is interested and they respond with a yes or no. Done. You are saving time, which — in turn — boosts your morale and keeps you going.

Need Help?

I love this process. If you’re looking for help weeding through potential leads on LinkedIn, reach out to learn more about my services. I can take over that part for you, sending quick notes to gauge interest and then handing over people ready to hear your best pitch. Email me at chrissie@chrissiewywrot.com and we can set up a call.

About Chrissie Wywrot

Chrissie Wywrot is a B2B lead generator and personal brand strategist who works with passionate entrepreneurs and professional athletes. To learn more about her services, visit her LinkedIn profile or email her at chrissie@chrissiewywrot.com.

The Most Important Thing I’ve Learned in 3 Years As An Entrepreneur

Nearly three and a half years ago, I said goodbye to my NFL job with the Detroit Lions to set out on my own as an entrepreneur. To say the journey has been smooth sailing would be a huge lie, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Every bump along the way has been an invaluable learning experience.

With all of that learning going on (believe me … there have been plenty of bumps-turned-learning experiences), there is one lesson that has popped up time and again:

Trust your gut.

It’s easy to veer off-course from gut-trusting. In the early phases of owning our own business, we have no idea what the heck we’re doing … or at least we have the illusion that we don’t know what we are doing.

It’s the equivalent of learning to ride a bike without training wheels: we are capable of doing it, but we have to practice (and fall plenty of times) before we get it down.

When it comes to trusting my gut the past three-and-a-half years, there are four key areas that stand out as the most important to my growth in my business and as an entrepreneur:

1. Knowing When I Didn’t Fit the Norm

This has been huge for me. When we get excited about business, it’s easy to get caught up in the what-everyone-else-is-doing trap.

You may think you’re supposed to build an email list, post to all the social media channels, and develop a “lead magnet” or a course. The truth is that those things may not fit who you are as an entrepreneur.

I don’t really have an email list — I don’t need it. My bread-and-butter is networking and selling on LinkedIn. An email list is actually too impersonal for me. I also don’t have a lead magnet (why do that when I can just send a personal message?) and I don’t post to Instagram, Pinterest, or SnapChat.

You may do one or all of those things and they may work for you — that is fantastic! But I’ve learned to trust my gut and do what fits me and my business.

2. Knowing When Advice Isn’t Right

It’s easy to get caught up in what your mentor, coach, or business bestie is saying, especially when things aren’t going so well and your confidence is in the toilet.

They’ve been in business longer than I have … I should just do what they’re telling me to do.

The bottom line is that you know your business (and yourself) the best. If you have doubt that what someone is advising you to do isn’t right for you, don’t do it. Even if the person giving you advice is one of the top business minds out there … you have to trust your gut.

I have learned this lesson from being on both sides of the spectrum: listening when I shouldn’t have and ignoring when I should have. The exercise builds confidence through success and through failure.

3. Knowing When to Cut the Cord

We’ve all had that conversation with ourselves regarding those clients. You know who I’m talking about … those clients.

Is it me or them? Am I the problem? What the heck is wrong with me?

This insecurity regarding our clients flares up the most when we are first starting out and excited to welcome anyone who wants to pay us. It also flares up when we have a “down period” and haven’t yet learned how to manage it mentally and professionally.

We let clients who are bad for us and our business hang around too long because … they’re paying us, right? Plus, we feel bad. What will they do if we let them go? Raise your hand if you’ve tried to make a client break up with you. Come on, raise it.

I’ll never forget a conversation I had with my business coach, who said, “Why are you letting him dictate your business?” It’s important to trust your gut when it comes to firing clients. When you have to do it, suck it up and do it.

(And don’t get caught up worrying you’re losing money … letting go of one client opens space up for another!)

4. Knowing When to Stand Up for an Idea

Have you ever been caught kicking yourself because you didn’t stand up for an idea in the face of a client’s objections? You were worried you’d be wrong and end up with your pants around your ankles, so you just gave in?

Yeah, me too.

Then, inevitably, what the client wanted didn’t work and you are left knowing you were right. The truth is, you have the expertise. You just have to trust your gut and know that you know what you’re talking about.

I find this often happens because we are so immersed in our expertise that we believe everyone knows the basics of what we do. I, for example, may believe that everyone knows the power of LinkedIn, what Twitter is used for, and that a blog title should be made up of more than three words.

But everyone doesn’t know these things and they’re looking for me to guide them toward the right thing to do.

It’s Gut-Check Time

When have you trusted your gut and reaped the reward? When have you not trusted your gut and realized you should have?

I want to hear your stories in the comments below!

About Chrissie Wywrot

Chrissie Wywrot is a B2B lead generator and personal brand strategist who works with passionate entrepreneurs and professional athletes. To learn more about her services, visit her LinkedIn profile or email her at chrissie@chrissiewywrot.com.

How to Effectively Reach Out to Leads on LinkedIn

I engaged heavily in direct sales for the better part of a year in 2015. I was successful, building a good income through product sales. Recruiting, however, wasn’t my forte.

Here’s why:

I couldn’t bring myself to try to sell to someone who didn’t want what I was selling.

Products were a different beast — I generated interest through Facebook posts or one-on-one conversations and responded to inquiries. With recruiting, I felt pressure to reach out to as many people as I could and pitch that the business could generate massive amounts of revenue.

The problem, though, was that I knew the truth: the only way it would generate “massive amounts of revenue” was if the person was good at sales. I saw an opportunity to use standard business marketing practices to bring in warm leads, but I saw a much greater advantage to focusing on my own business rather than someone else’s.

My suspicions were confirmed when my LinkedIn consultancy took off and I left direct sales in the dust.

Whose Needs Matter More?

My point here is that I’m not the person who will try to talk anyone into something they don’t need. That’s not my style and it shouldn’t be yours.

Instead, I look for people who want what I’m selling. When I sense even the slightest bit of interest, I’m as good as you’re going to get.

So, you may ask, how do you determine whether a person has interest?

This is where I think a lot of people miss the mark. Instead of putting time into determining whether a lead has a desire for the product or service they’re selling, they jump right into the ask.

This is both off-putting and ineffective, even for those who do have a genuine interest.

Here’s the thing:

When you jump right into asking someone to buy from you without getting to know them first, you’re essentially telling them that it’s your needs that matter, not theirs.

To gauge whether a person has interest in what you’re selling, you must first engage in a mutually-beneficial relationship. The person you’re engaging with must believe that you have his or her best interest at heart, or you will fall as flat as a pancake.

The Mutual Benefit

Needing to establish a mutually-beneficial relationship doesn’t mean the cold reach-out is dead — quite the opposite, in fact. You’re reading the words of someone who loves cold reach-outs (you can learn all about how I conduct them here).

What is important to remember is that a cold reach-out is rarely done to actually make a sale. Typically it’s done to spark interest.

The key is to be patient — desperate isn’t a good look and your prospect will be able to sniff it out a mile away. Be willing to build relationships and let them flourish. If someone is interested, they’ll be interested … give it time.

What does it look like to kick off a budding online relationship? It can look different with each prospect. Take a look at these three scenarios, each of which has a different objective:

  1. Connecting on LinkedIn
  2. Scheduling a call
  3. Making the ask

Scenario 1: Connecting on LinkedIn

You develop the personal brands of current and former professional athletes. You are engaging on LinkedIn and find John, a former professional football player who now has his own consulting agency. You would love to work with John, but have never spoken to him and don’t want to put him off.

To kick off the relationship (no pun intended), you send a connection request that includes a (very) simple note:

  • “Hey John. I work with professional athletes on their personal brands. Seeing as you’re a former NFL player, I would love to connect with you here on LinkedIn!”

John accepts your connection request and you add him to your list of leads on Sales Navigator. Then you continue pushing out original content geared toward professional athletes, sometimes sending John your articles via private message and asking him to share to his network.

One of two things will happen from here: either John will reach out to learn more about your business or you will eventually reach out to gauge interest and schedule a call.

Scenario 2: Scheduling A Call

You’ve seen Sally, the owner of project management company, on LinkedIn. You aren’t connected, but are in a LinkedIn group together. Your hope is that she needs someone to manage her social media.

A cold reach-out may read like this:

  • “Hey Sally, I saw we’re in the same social media group together. I’d love to connect here on LinkedIn and maybe schedule a call to learn more about one another’s businesses. Are you available this week?”

If Sally is interested in a call, you chat about one another’s businesses. If she truly is in the market for social media help, you mentioning that you manage social media for small businesses is likely to spark her interest.

If it doesn’t, you can mention that you would love any referrals she can give, and then you feel good that you’ve added someone to your growing network.

Scenario 3: The Ask

Yes, sometimes you make the ask right away. In this scenario, you specialize in working with business coaches who are also public speakers. You produce original content on their behalf, manage their social media, and generate leads for speaking gigs.

You’re perusing LinkedIn and come across Laura’s profile. Laura is a business coach and public speaker who hasn’t published an original article in six months. She has, however, shared videos of herself speaking at a few live business events and she’s good at what she does.

A cold reach-out might read like this:

  • “Hi Laura! I am a marketing specialist who works specifically with business coaches and public speakers. I came across your profile and am really impressed by what you do — you have a lot of great information and are a fantastic public speaker. I would love the opportunity to speak with you over the phone about what I might be able to do for you. I help my clients with original content as well as lead generation for speaking events. If you’re interested, I’d love it if we could connect here on LinkedIn and then schedule a call for this week!”

This reach-out makes the ask right away, but it’s personal and mutually-beneficial. By asking in this way, you are acknowledging a specific need Laura might have. If she doesn’t have that need, she’ll say so (and you should respectfully end the conversation and not badger her). If she does, she’ll be pretty darn excited you reached out.

Enjoying the Chase

I’m a self-professed lover of lead generation. The art of scouting out potential leads, learning all I can about them, and reaching out as I deem appropriate is something I enjoy doing for myself and my clients.

If you are interested in lead generation for high-end offers, connect with me via LinkedIn or email chrissie@chrissiewywrot.com.

What’s the Best Way to Conduct a Cold Reach-Out?

Look, I get it. You need clients. We’ve all been there. But I’m constantly shaking my head at the cold reach-outs I receive that miss the mark.

Cold reach-outs are — how do you say it? — my jam. I love online networking, especially on LinkedIn. There is a certain rush that comes with forging a new professional connection, and it doesn’t hurt when that connection turns into a new client.

How do I do it? What are my secrets? Here they are, in no particular order.

1. Get Personal

Seriously, guys … enough with batch-emailing a sales pitch. It really is true that when you’re attempting to speak to everyone, you’re really speaking to no one.

I genuinely shake my head when I get a cold pitch about website services, business coaching, or marketing help. It’s clear the person who sent it sent the identical message to 99 other people, which is a huge turn-off. I suppose that works for some people (does it, really?) but it’s not a method I employ.

Instead, take a look at who you’re pitching and speak to that person when you send a message. I recently spoke about this on Natalie Eckdahl‘s BizChix podcast:

Whenever I cold reach out to people the No. 1 thing is that it needs to be a mutually beneficial relationship. Not everybody’s going to respond, but the big thing that I do is talk about the person; they can tell that I’ve read their profile, they can tell that I see a true benefit in connecting.

2. Truly Get Excited

When I sat back to think about why cold reach-outs work for me, this was a huge one. I have a very specific profile of my ideal client in mind, so when I find someone who fits that profile, I get really excited.

For real.

I have two specific “avatars” I work with: professional athletes and passionate, business-to-business entrepreneurs. The two avatars have a lot in common: both have small businesses (ideally 1-5 people), personal brands, and are passionate about helping others through their businesses.

When I find someone who fits that profile, my energy rises, which translates into whatever action I take: sending a personal message, a connection request, or simply tagging that person as a lead.

Know your ideal client (get really specific) and get excited when you find someone who fits that mold!

3. Use Your Gut

This may come easier to some, but it’s important to really think about the best plan of action when conducting a cold reach-out. Ask yourself whether reaching out would come across as intrusive or disingenuous. If it would, simply take note of the person and comment on his or her posts for awhile (“lurk,” as they say).

If you notice that you have a lot in common with a potential lead that truly justifies a personal note right away, go for it. The point is to hold back when it’s important to hold back and lean in when it’s important to lean in.

Don’t be scared to reach out, but don’t be sloppy with your reach outs, either. You only have one chance to make a good first impression.

4. Don’t (Always) Go for the Sale

There are exceptions to this rule, but it’s typically best to wait to ask for a sale.

Think about it this way: what do you think of people who corner you on the street with a flyer, asking you to purchase something on the spot? I’m guessing you either mumble a “no thank you” or give in out of guilt.

Individuals have to know, like, and trust you in order to purchase. That happens over time. A cold reach-out is the initial point of contact. You have to be patient when it comes to converting a sale … this is a long-term play!

Start with a relationship. Ideally, that person will turn into a client. If not, maybe you can get a referral. “Worst” case, you expand your network and that person thinks of you when a friend or colleague is looking for someone who does what you do.

You really can’t lose.

5. Have Fun

Yes, that’s right … enjoy it! There is nothing quite like networking and lead generation. I love “the hunt” — seeking out other professionals to collaborate with is one of my favorite things about being an entrepreneur.

What do you think about cold reach-outs? Do you engage in them or do you shy away? Do they work for you or are you struggling?

Leave your comments below!

How My Competitive Spirit Has Made Me A Successful Entrepreneur

Once an athlete, always an athlete.

From the time I was a child, I loved competition — playing basketball, volleyball, tennis, and running track in middle and high school. Sometimes I was the best (in middle school I would beat girls and boys in the 800 meter run) and sometimes there was plenty of room for improvement (as a point guard, I would frequently get stuck in the right corner of the court because I couldn’t dribble left-handed).

I peaked as a runner as a freshman in high school, gaining weight and subsequently slowing down my sophomore year. I have since resurrected my love of running as an adult, running 3-5 miles daily at a 7:15-minute-mile pace.

Hey, it allows me to feel like I’m still a “real” athlete.

As someone who has worked with professional athletes, however, I recognize the shortcomings of my athletic ability. Sure, I can pretend I’m an Olympic star, but the truth is that I avoid structured races because I know my competitive spirit would attempt to win and I may keel over while attempting to keep pace with the top runners.

At least that’s what I tell myself. Maybe I avoid them because I don’t see the point in competing if I can’t win.

That’s why I love business. I’ve transferred my relentless desire to compete to another medium … and it’s one I win frequently.

An Athlete in Business

Leaving a professional sport (I was a digital media coordinator for the Detroit Lions) in early 2014 to be an entrepreneur presented an unexpected zing of feeling like the underdog. Engaging in business as an entrepreneur is one of the most intense competitions there is, and I felt it 100-percent.

I experienced a two-year journey of uncovering my strengths, ultimately learning that what fueled my love of athletics also drove me in business: strategy, competition, and the thrill of the win.

Whether it’s closing a new client or closing a lead for my clients, that feeling of winning is everything. Putting together a plan for myself or a client and seeing it come to fruition reminds me of how it felt to pass the boys’ exhibition team on the final lap of the 4×800 in high school. I relished it.

I clearly remember the look of fear on the face of my competition at the thought of being beat by a girl (God forbid) and swiftly passing him on the straightaway.

Don’t mess with me. I’m strong and I possess a relentless hunger to beat you.

My Perfect Clientele

This is why I love working with professional athletes — I speak their language. I get that they want to win and be the best at everything, but I also recognize that they must see the parallel between sports and business to realize that success.

The truth is that some don’t.

The ones that do — and see how they can leverage sports to be even better in business — do amazing things. It’s a combination of confidence and humility; understanding they aren’tthe best at everything, but knowing a certain amount of natural ability and hard work can result in greatness.

The Non-Athlete Athlete

Not all of my clients are athletes in the traditional sense.

I also work with entrepreneurs out who — like me — carry the mentality of a professional athlete. Those who love the thrill of the chase and passing competition on the final straightaway.

Sometimes that comes in the form of winning business deals. Other times that comes in the form of helping others. Achieving a “win” through seeing a client get physically healthy, build his or her own successful business, or develop a business strategy, all embody the clients I work with.

It’s about setting and achieving goals.

Successful Swag

Whether you’ve competed at the highest level of professional athletics or simply carry a business swag reminiscent of Steph Curry shooting a three at the buzzer, I want to hear from you. Reach out to talk business strategy, sports, setting goals, or getting wins.

There is always room to get to the next level.

LinkedIn is the Best Networking Party You’ll Ever Attend

I was recently told by one of my entrepreneurial friends that my engagement on LinkedIn had inspired her to dig even deeper into networking within the platform. I was posting success after success connecting with influencers and potential leads and it led to her reaching out to people she’d never considered reaching out to.

I find that success, quite simply, by looking at LinkedIn as the best networking party I could ever attend … and you can replicate my actions!

Here’s how:

1. Showcase Your Credentials

You can’t be afraid to showcase what you’ve done. I’ve worked for an NFL team, many athletes across a number of sports, and been an entrepreneur for more than three years. It’s important that I say that clearly and directly within my profile.

LinkedIn Networking Party Analogy: How would you introduce yourself to someone at an in-person gathering? What are the most relevant things about your professional background? Make sure those are highlighted within your profile and let me know if you need help.

2. Strike Up A Conversation

Be a real person! Reach out to individuals in your network just to learn more about their businesses. Tell them you think they’re impressive or that you love reading their content on the platform. Send connection requests to individuals you don’t know with a note that compliments them or inquires about their work.

LinkedIn Networking Party Analogy: Don’t be that person at the party who keeps to him or herself or only talks to the one you drove with. Put yourself out there and learn about other people — you never know where you’ll find common ground or who you’ll end up collaborating with. The best leads are often disguised as irrelevant connections!

3. Take An Online World Offline

Let LinkedIn be a conduit to connecting with people over the phone or in person. I love scheduling calls with others in my industry just to talk for 15-20 minutes about who they are, what they do within their business, and their longterm goals. Sometimes that turns into a pitch for services, other times it’s just a conversation that helps me get better acquainted with someone.

LinkedIn Networking Party Analogy: One of the great things about networking parties is they allow you to inform others of what you do and who you target. You may meet someone who knows someone who is looking for someone just like you. That same phenomenon occurs through LinkedIn by connecting offline! Schedule an informational call and you may just hear, “Let me connect you with …”

Noteworthy: The Athlete Advantage

If you’ve played sports in college or within a professional league, I have one piece of advice regarding LinkedIn: exploit the heck out that experience.

I don’t care what sport it was, whether you’re male or female, or whether you won a championship … playing sports at either of those levels is a point of conversation and something people want to be associated with.

As someone who worked in digital media for an NFL team for nearly 10 years, I can attest that this applies beyond those who play on the field or court. I accrued so many LinkedIn connections over that decade that are paying huge dividends now.

Okay, you may be thinking, that sounds great. How do I do that? I don’t want to come across as self-absorbed.

Fantastic question! Here is how you maximize that experience:

  1. Optimize your LinkedIn profile. Make sure your headline references your background in sports and that your experience is complete. There will be plenty of curious eyes on your profile — make it good!
  2. Show your depth. Athletes — especially those who aren’t headliners — are competitive, disciplined, and have plenty of stories to share. Remember that LinkedIn is a networking party — provide anecdotes as they pertain to your business objectives. Life and business lessons are always embedded in sports stories.
  3. Connect with relevant people. This includes other athletes, influencers, business professionals, and media. The key is to connect with them before you need something, but after you are well on your way with profile optimization and sharing content. Form the relationships now so you can ask for what you need later.

The moral of the story? Treat LinkedIn like the online networking party it is and build your business in the process!

4 Reasons Reserve Athletes Make Up the Best in Business

Many athletes struggle with capitalizing on their pro sports career when transitioning into business. They see what they did in the sports world as “no big deal” and that it’s “cheating” to allow it to give them a leg up.

This is primarily true of those who don’t have blockbuster careers. Headliners often have no problem taking advantage of the fame, but what if you only played two or three years? What if you never made it to an active roster?

Honestly, these athletes are often the best for business for a number of reasons.

1. You Fought for What You Received

We all know about the guy who had no problem starting at every level. The player who coasted his way to starting as a freshman before becoming a first-round draft pick. For those players, it always came easy.

Not for you. You had to scratch and claw for every opportunity you received because it didn’t come easy for you. As a kid, you were always elite. You were the best in your hometown and there was no doubt you would move on to stardom.

Once you reached the collegiate level, however, you met players far better than you. Or perhaps you recognized that – while you were great in college – you weren’t physically built to be elite in the pros.

This is a tough pill to swallow and it humbled you, but it also fueled you to work even harder. It resulted in commitment and dedication to achieving your dream of playing at the pro level … and you did it.

2. You Work Hard in the Classroom

Fighting for that final roster spot meant you had to be great in the classroom. You had no choice. Not only did you have to be as easy to work with for the coaches as possible, you had to know how to fill in at more than one position to carry value.

Non-starters have to be flexible, regardless of the sport. In baseball, you’re called a utility player. In football, you have to learn new plays at multiple positions each week. It’s an added burden that requires greater commitment.

You may have also experienced moving between teams during your career or during the same season. Each move requires learning a new playbook, system, or strategy. Often the primary hurdle is picking up new terminology, signals, or signs, but it still requires quick learning or going home.

3. You Possess Discipline

Pro sports is a hierarchy. All players are not treated equal. Though touted as “just a game” by fans, sports is a business that requires winning. For that reason, starters receive preferential treatment, regardless of the sport.

This means you had to work overtime to hone your skills because you didn’t get as many reps as the starters. You had to pull coaches aside for extra work because they put their focus and energy on the starters during practice.

You were responsible for putting in the work required to keep your job … no one was going to do it for you. That shows discipline and integrity because nothing was handed to you.

4. You Are a Team Player

During games you may have acted as a bench coach, encourager, or scout … and you did all of that knowing you were one injury or extra inning away from getting into the game.

I was always in awe of the inactive or reserve players during my time in the NFL. They were often the most charismatic, fun, and supportive guys on the roster and put the betterment of the team ahead of their own personal goals.

A good sense of humor is also common among these players. I remember one guy in particular who was added and then released multiple times each year for many seasons. Each time he came back, we would see and laugh, “You’re back?”

He would smile and say, “Yeah, I’m back,” even though this constant back-and-forth meant moving multiple times throughout the year and staying in shape year-round just to be ready in case he received a call.

Let Pro Sports be Your Brand

Whether you played two seasons or two minutes at the professional level, the fact that you made it there at all is something to build your brand around. Recognize that playing professional sports is a job that requires a number of high-functioning skills to succeed.

Leverage it to build the business you are passionate about. Tell potential employers you played at the highest level of your sport and articulate why it matters. If the people you’re working with don’t recognize it for what it is, maybe they’re not the people you should be working with.

The bottom line? You put in the blood, sweat, and tears … now go ahead and own it.

How to Pitch a Story to the Media

Pitching a story to the media is truly an art form. There are a number of components to consider from the individual writing or reporting your story to the audience that will be reading or watching it.

I have pitched a number of stories in my role as Director of Communications for The ChadTough Foundation as well as in my consulting work with professional athletes. Therefore, I recognize what it takes for a story to be picked up.

Whether you’re looking to promote an event or simply promote yourself or your business, here are questions to ask yourself as you look to media to cover:

Is your story newsworthy?

There are two types of professional athletes: those who generate media attention when they wake up in the morning and those who are asked if they know the athletes who generate media attention when they wake up in the morning.

You know who you are.

I greatly appreciate the players who have a sense of humor when they show up to a kids’ charity event only to be asked if they “know Miguel Cabrera/Lebron James/insert megastar here.”

Point being, if you aren’t generating news simply because you’re breathing, you will have to ask yourself if what you’re doing is newsworthy. Note: stories that seem newsworthy to you may not be newsworthy to the general public.

Did you become the first in your family to graduate college? Live on 10-percent of your salary to set yourself up for after you’re done playing?

These may be worth covering for someone in the local media.

Is your story any good?

Let’s just lay it out there: will anyone care what you have to say? Often times — especially when promoting an event — perspective on whether a story is good or not is lost.

Think about browsing social media or reading ESPN — what catches your attention? What makes a good story?

When you’re trying to promote an event and you’re not Lebron James, the best way to get it out there is to pitch it along with an accompanying story.

For example, let’s say you’re putting on an event to raise money for foster kids. That’s really nice, but it isn’t a news story. Add in the component that you grew up in foster homes and persevered through it and you have a fantastic story.

Is your story mutually beneficial?

This is a big one.

When you’re pitching a story to a member of the media, you must think about whether it is mutually beneficial. If all you do is tell a reporter what you want out of their coverage, you won’t be doing the most critical thing of all: building a relationship.

Once you’ve shown a member of the media that you will help them look good by giving them quality stories, he or she will be more likely to pitch their editors to your events or initiatives.

Note: The mutually beneficial part also comes after the story runs. Push out the coverage via social media or link to it from your website with a thank you to the person who wrote or produced it.

What if your story isn’t picked up?

If the answer to any of these questions is no, you may consider a different way to get your story to the general public. Blog it yourself, write a press release, or post a video to social media talking about your event or initiative.

Bonus: Sometimes stories aren’t big enough for media to cover it themselves, but they will highlight your coverage. Send what you write or record to your media list and you may get coverage regurgitating what you’ve already done.

Do you have to do all of this yourself?

No, you don’t! When you’re just starting out, however, you may have to do a lot of this yourself.

Once you’re more established, it’s a good idea to hire a public relations professional who already has established relationships with the media, writing skills, and the ability to come up with quality stories to pitch.

When you get to that point of hiring someone, make sure you have a specific goal in place such as growing a business or a foundation. That way, you are putting your money to good use and will eventually get a return!

Happy pitching!