7 Secrets of LinkedIn Fundraising for Your Startup

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It’s basically your choice – You can easily raise $100 or $1,000,000 via LinkedIn.

Yes, I know, you’d say – I have no time for LinkedIn. I am a startuper, you know. We have to raise gig money here.

One startuper I recently met here in Washington, DC, said it even better – “my time is stretched, man. I’ve got to fly to NYC and the West Coast for rounds of investor meetings. Why in the world would I spend my time on yet more social media? Just can’t do it.”

Are you in a similar position with your startup?

I’m not going to tell you that LinkedIn is the magic solution. It’s not. If you think that these angels you’ll be meeting in Manhattan will like your idea and shovel out a bunch of cash at you, please proceed with your plan.

Instead, this article is for those who want to maximize every opportunity, including the largest professional social media platform in the world.

I’m going to share 7 simple but effective steps that will help you grow your quality connections, approach the right contacts with the right message and get your results relatively fast.

Ready?

Let’s just say that your startup is the next Uber or Tesla. You’ve got a team ready to move mountains. You have an awesome plan. You have some cool mentors. All in all – you have the alchemy of stars working for you!

You need some $250K to get moving.

Or maybe, you’re on the next cloud, you need to grow and the price is $1M+.

Fine.

LinkedIn can cover both tasks.

LinkedIn offers a perfect platform to locate your investors, buyers, and mentors. It is great resource of valuable information. It’s a gigantic collaborative data base.

All you have to do is to build a solid base of quality connections, establish your consistent presence, locate right decision-makers and charge with the crisp and focused message.

Step 1. Create Your Personal Brand on LinkedIn via a Perfect LinkedIn Profile

Today every professional knows well – if your LinkedIn page is just a boring resume, you are wasting some valuable real estate. So the first step that I recommend is to polish your LinkedIn profile. If you think that your investor will not check your LinkedIn page, you may be surprised. Today if someone googles your name, a good LinkedIn profile comes the first.

What needs to be on that perfect profile? It’s all very simple.

Start with a great professional picture of yourself.

Then goes your top notch and focused summary. Make it non-trivial. Make it memorable by describing your best qualities. And don’t foget that SEO still works and pepper it with some top key words that may help locate your startup.

Your task is to become unique.

Make sure that your Professional Experience is filled to capacity. Trust me. Or as Matthew Bastian, LinkedIn Researcher says in his blog, LinkedIn users who maximize their professional skills information receive 13 times more clicks! Now that’s powerful!

Not only startupers can miss this. Even Barack Obama had some work to do on his profile – his team had to work hard to do some solid tweaking!

So don’t be negligent there. Spend some quality time to make it perfect.

Step 2. Maximize Your LinkedIn Company Page – Your Startup Should Shine

If you are not going to maximally use your free LinkedIn Company page, then you’ll miss multiple touch points with your investors.

Your first step here should be creating an ideal image of the startup founder/s. Add an engaging story. Spruce it up with the team story. Engage, engage, engage.
Think about what you want your viewers to see first. Find the right angle for your angel.

Make it a gourmet dish for your investors. Offer quality insights, share your early success stories. Don’t forget simple things like your mission and FAQ.

Another great differentiator will be adding some quality pictures of your startup product and your team in action. Make sure that you update your page regularly.

The final piece of that puzzle is to assign someone from your team to work on your fundraising page. This should be a dynamic and regularly updated page. Very important.

Step 3. Be a Startup Bee – Crossbreed Your Network

Do you like bees? Well, even if you don’t, you can learn from these lovely creatures. In particular, if you may want to create quality network, you need to swap your flowers. Spread your net wide – find some unusual connections, go to 3rd level connections, make sure that you add them regularly.

As Malcolm Gladwell asserts in his New Yorker article, crossbreeding of contacts means a simple thing – you need to invite a whole range of contacts who may not be necessarily on the same page with you on various topics, but still brings cool perspectives which help to differentiate your startup.

All you have to do is start with adding 5 new contacts a day. These should not be «frozen» contacts – engage them in your LinkedIn Group, send them quality links and articles, keep them around your orbit. Always ask – how can I help you first?

Step 4. Be Active in LinkedIn Groups

Another effective way to create active interaction and partnership with your various stakeholders is through your LinkedIn Groups. At the beginning, you will need to join at least 20 different groups. However, keep in mind, there’s no sense to be in a group if you’re not planning to be engaged.

Try to share useful links, add some discussion topics, respond to forum discussions. What makes your startup different? How can it help various audiences?

Create a few groups. One focused on attracting investors, another to interest your buyers. You can always use it to channel your product promotion, latest news or success stories. Connect your page with crowdfunding sites that you use.

Step 5. Actively Use LinkedIn Status Updates

The LinkedIn status updates function makes it somewhat similar to Facebook, so it won’t take you long to learn this skill. What you need to work on, though, is sharing professional achievements and news.

To make it an effective tool, I recommend that you post your useful updates and shares 2-3 times a day. Test what content is most popular amongst your audience. Play with some headlines.

I personally follow this template:

1) Motivational Quote

2) Industry News/Article Links

3) Final Quote of the Day.

Don’t forget to like or comment on your focus audience feed.

In terms of publishing your content, Noah Cogan recommends at his blog OkDork, to post it on Tuesdays.

Whatever you do select – try to first test your audience reaction to your content first.

Step 6. Take the Pulse of LinkedIn

When I started using the LinkedIn publishing platform, there were not as many people using it, and my content could hike up almost immediately, as long as it was useful, engaging and spiced with keywords.

For example, my article on how to make your startup a million dollar success quickly got traffic because it was an interview with a successful entrepreneur, had useful advice and an engaging tone.

You can still do this. No need to write LinkedIn War and Peace.

Step 7. Charge! InMail Your Top Prospects

Once you have built a solid presence, your platform is ready to charge. What you need to do is to purchase LinkedIn paid service. LinkedIn InMail makes all the difference in the world. It can help you target your top donors in no time.

Here’s what you need to do to make it super-effective:

a) Thoroughly research your target prospect group. LinkedIn makes it easy. Don’t neglect this important step.

b) Always connect only with decision makers. Don’t try to get mid-level managers or gatekeepers to make a decision. They won’t. Waste of yours and their time.

c) Write crisp brief messages to the point. Short intro. Your offer. Invitation to discuss or provide more information. No more.

d) Don’t get frustrated when you don’t get an answer. Wait for about a week, and then send a polite reminder. This work is not for faint-hearted sensitive types. Persevere. These are busy people, stay on course.

Now a few examples that may inspire you.

When you think that billionaires don’t have time for you, think twice. Or read mystory of connecting with Tony Hsieh via LinkedIn. Yes, he responded.

Another great example happened to Ilya Semin, founder of Datanyze who landed a jackpot deal by writing thoughtful cold email messages. Mind you, he did not use LinkedIn, but the approach was very similar.

Semin collected emails of top managers of several software companies, contacted them with a clear email message to test his and comment on his new product.

According Business Insider, his software represented such a great breakthrough product that not only did Semin receive useful suggestions, he got his future co-investors right there. He later became a co-owner of Datanyze. It gets even cooler, as one of his emails reached Mark Cuban who eventually invested $2M in his company.

I love Ilya’s simple advice:

“if you want advice, ask for money. But if you need money, ask for advice.”

Fun?

It gets even better.

Frank Hannigan found $200,000 for his startup on LinkedIn! In his interview he shared that it took him just 8 days and 700 cold LinkedIn messages.

All he needed was to find 10 people ready to invest $30,000.

And no, he didn’t have plenty of contacts. His 700 were enough.

As long as you know that your proposal makes sense and you have a brilliant product, you should go ahead and create your «killer» message.

Frank received almost instant replies from so many contacts that he finished his first round within one week! In fact, within 12 months of using LinkedIn superpowers, Frank and his team raised over $500,000.

How do you feel about this approach?

Remember, all you have to do is to follow these 7 steps:

Step 1. Create Your Personal Brand on LinkedIn via a Perfect LinkedIn Profile

Step 2. Maximize Your LinkedIn Company Page – Your Startup Should Shine

Step 3. Be a Startup Bee – Crossbreed Your Network

Step 4. Be Active in LinkedIn Groups

Step 5. Actively Use LinkedIn Status Updates

Step 6. Take the Pulse of LinkedIn

Step 7. Charge! InMail Your Top Prospects

(The original article appeared on Exodus Digital Marketing blog)

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