I have played golf most of my life. Like most aspiring young hockey players, I golfed in the summer months and was fortunate to learn on one of Stanley Thompson’s earliest designs, Cedarhurst Golf Club. I am not good (no one ever really masters the game) but I have learned how to move the ball around the course, score better than most and enjoy the camaraderie.
Golf is a strategic game. You not only have to hit the fairway off the tee but position the ball so that you have an unobstructed angle to the pin for your next shot. And, you not only have to hit the green in regulation but land the approach so that you have a realistic chance for par, perhaps birdie. And, to complicate matters, well designed facilities are laced with obstacles – bunkers, hills, water, rough, trees, undulating greens, uneven lies, wind – that make every shot a challenge. A good layout requires the use of all clubs in the bag and will play differently each and every time. That is the challenge.
Mark Twain said “Golf is a good walk spoiled”. I prefer to think that “Golf is an exhilarating and rewarding walk provided you avoid the hazards”.
I have not worked with LinkedIn as long as I have played golf but have been an advocate of the product since 2005. About that time, I was introduced to a Toronto lawyer via LinkedIn who, after meeting several times face-to-face, awarded my firm a substantial contract. I was hooked and proceeded to learn as much as I could.
Like golf, LinkedIn is strategic. You have to target potential clients much the same way you strategically place tee and approach shots. And, like golf, LinkedIn has hazards to avoid – making sufficient time seems to be the most challenging. Time is the deep pot bunker at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. You must be committed to spending time and effort learning to use the product, searching out quality connections that can assist growing your practice and becoming a thought leader in your field. Otherwise, you will be disappointed. You will miss every fairway, 3-putt the greens and mark your score card with little square boxes.
Golf and LinkedIn require a commitment. You must be prepared to continually learn, practice and train. For every 4 hour round of golf I play, I practice and train the same amount of time before playing again, working on aspects of the game that disappointed me. LinkedIn is similar. You must be prepared to spend at least 30 minutes each and every day crafting your profile, searching for connections and distributing relevant material.
Don’t spoil the walk. Learn. Practice. Commit.