Don’t Throw Away Your Million Dollar Jackpot Ticket, or Why You Should Continue Writing on LinkedIn



In July of 2011, Sharon Duncan bought a lottery ticket at a local store in Beebe, Arkansas. She thought the ticket had no chance of winning and tossed it into a trash bin right in the store.

Turned out it was a winner! Her neighbor Sharon Jones discovered the ticket in the trash bin, and knew exactly what she had found. Ms. Jones claimed the prize money…a million dollars!

That’s just luck, you say. But is it?

Consider another “lost ticket” story. In 1976, Ron Wayne, one of the three Apple co-founders, owned a 10 percent stake in the company. However, after just 12 days Wayne decided to quit and sold his shares for…$800! In his interview with Cult of Mac Wayne said, “They (Jobs and Wozniak) were whirlwinds — it was like having a tiger by the tail. If I had stayed with Apple I probably would have wound up the richest man in the cemetery.”

Indeed, he’d be a billionaire today.

How many of us give up too easily when our chances of success seem slim?

Take LinkedIn Pulse authors. There has been a wave of changes on LinkedIn lately, some of which have made authors frustrated. I agree that LinkedIn Pulse has become less dynamic, and its algorithms are promoting a lot of cookie cutter articles while not catching all the quality articles out there. I also agree that with the growing amount of spam on LinkedIn, we are less optimistic even about communicating with new contacts.

But should we just stop writing and move to another platform? Can writing ever be easy?

No, writing is more of a lottery than a predictable sport. Ask Jack London, Emily Dickinson or Ernest Hemingway. Did they stop trying? Should we just forget about our winning ticket?

“Can one individual’s social media activities, meaningful and honest or pointless, impact a multitude of other minds significantly?” asks Milos Djukic, one of the most original writers on LinkedIn.

Comparing social media writing with the famous Butterfly Effect, he argues that every one of us can make a difference. “You are one in a million, equally unique, unrepeatable and unpredictable. A single flap of a butterfly’s wings may provoke a new Renaissance… It is your global social impact,” says Djukic.

So write to make this impact. Write, but don’t preach. Write to create positive thinking. Write to inspire. Write to make sense. Write to transform yourself.

Ray Bradbury, the king of science fiction, once said, “And what, you ask, does writing teach us? First and foremost, it reminds us that we are alive and that it is a gift and a privilege, not a right.”

Or listen to the advice from Karthik Rajan, another successful LinkedIn blogger, who heard a perfect advice on writing from his mother – “Just share your experiences, trigger the reader’s curiosity and let the audience draw their own conclusions, respect them as individuals and they will in turn respect you.” And shared he did! Thanks to LinkedIn blogging, Karthik is now sharing his thoughts in his Huffington Post column. Not bad?

“It took me fifteen years to discover that I had no talent for writing, but I couldn’t give it up because by that time I was too famous.”
—Robert Benchley

But what should you do with all of your LinkedIn articles? What’s the ultimate goal?

For me personally, writing itself is a rewarding experience. Yet, when I started writing on LinkedIn back in May 2014, I had no idea that my 42 articles would help me find new business leads, meet inspiring social entrepreneurs and non-profits, and open many doors. Most importantly, I found a great diverse audience, fellow writers and readers, who constantly guide me and improve my writing one article at a time. Isn’t that a treasure?

There’s not one single goal in writing, because its ROI is more than just a monetary reward.

So instead of throwing your dream into a trash bin, think of compiling your articles into a non-fiction book.

This is advice that I got from Derek Sivers, a successful entrepreneur, musician and the bestselling author of Anything You Want. This book changed me. It inspired me so much that I wanted to speak with Derek and learn from him. So when I read on the book’s back cover that Derek’s “main act of public service is answering emails from strangers,” I emailed him asking whether I should write a non-fiction book based on the articles I wrote on LinkedIn. Here’s what he said:

“Yes! Absolutely. Share whatever you learned. We should all do that. It’s just the right thing to do.

Tell the tales the best you can.  Start by telling them to friends & strangers, before you write them down.  Watch feedback.

Don’t worry about it becoming an official book. First just start by making each experience into its own blog post like this:

Once the blog posts are well-received, look into making them a book.”

How about that? Want to know how to improve your LinkedIn articles before you venture into the book business?

Following Derek’s blog advice, begin by “presenting one little idea, something anyone can read in under two minutes, and shine a spotlight on it.” Watch for comments, and see if other social media channels pick up on your content.

Important – “don’t bury your brilliant idea on page 217”! “Stop the orchestra. Solo that motif. Repeat it. Let the other instruments build upon it.”

Once you’ve selected your top winners, you can plunge into the excitement of book writing. After all, you’ve got nothing to lose! Your own LinkedIn audience improved and approved your articles. And while you’re waiting to receive your first freshly minted book from a publishing house, hear out this advice on how you can actually get paid for what you write, by Jeff Haden, a ghostwriter, speaker, LinkedIn Influencer, and contributing editor for Inc. who authored over 50 non-fiction books.

But always remember your duty as a writer, which Theodora Goss said best: “If you’re a writer, your first duty, a duty you owe to yourself and your readers, and to your writing itself, is to become wonderful. To become the best writer you can possibly be.”

Isn’t that like winning the jackpot?



The Power of Authentic Email



Every day we write dozens and dozens of emails. Some are dull and boring. Others may be more engaging. On average, they all serve their purpose, and we’re fine with it – type, send, done, next!

Yet, if we only add a touch of personality to our communication, the results might surprise us. Here is an example of one authentic email message that created thousands of new customers, and over 20,000 citations on Google.

Derek Sivers, a successful entrepreneur, musician and the founder of CD Baby, an online distributor of independent music, which he built from scratch and sold for $22 million, shared how he made this happen in his bestselling book Anything You Want.

Sivers wrote how one day he decided to customize an automated email that went to every customer informing them that their CD had been shipped.

The message was standard and boring. Something like I get from Amazon all the time:

Thank you for shopping with us. You ordered XYZ product and 1 other item. We’ll send a confirmation when your items ship.

Sivers knew that this dull message did not match his company’s boutique customer-oriented image and his “personal mission to make people smile.”

In 20 minutes, “Your order has shipped today” transformed into:

Your CDs have been gently taken from our CD Baby shelves with sterilized contamination-free gloves and placed onto a satin pillow.

A team of 50 employees inspected your CDs and polished them to make sure they were in the best possible condition before mailing.

Our packing specialist from Japan lit a candle and a hush fell over the crowd as he put your CDs into the finest gold-lined box that money can buy.

We all had a wonderful celebration afterwards and the whole party marched down the street to the post office where the entire town of Portland waved ‘Bon Voyage!’ to your package, on its way to you, in our private CD Baby jet on this day, Sunday, December 11th.

I hope you had a wonderful time shopping at CD Baby.  We sure did.
Your picture is on our wall as “Customer of the Year”.  We’re all exhausted but can’t wait for you to come back to CDBABY.COM!!

Thank you once again,

Derek Sivers, President, CD Baby

Goofy? Yes? Memorable? Of course! Effective? 20,000 references say so.

Now, I’m not suggesting that you have to be funny tomorrow, or that you should never use your corporate speak!

But whether it’s your LinkedIn message, an email to your customer or a thank-you letter to your donor, the point is to take an extra step to own your message. Once you make it authentic, memorable, and creative – your reader will love you for it.

Simple Steps to Find Your Nonprofit “Zen”



No, I won’t waste your time offering yoga advice to relieve your non-profit challenges.

In fact, I’m not even talking about that Zen(禅 – meditation)!

Rather, I’ll share the secrets of what KaiZen can do for your non-profit.

But before I begin, let me ask you a question:

Do you think that the following would work at your non-profit?

  1. Discard conventional fixed ideas.
  2. Think of how to do it, not why it cannot be done.
  3. Do not make excuses. Start by questioning current practices.
  4. Do not seek perfection. Do it right away even if it will only achieve 50% the target.
  5. If you make a mistake, correct it right away.
  6. Throw wisdom at a problem, not money.
  7. Ask “WHY?” five times and seek root causes.
  8. Seek the wisdom of ten people rather than the knowledge of one.

What do you think? Can you subscribe at least to some of these points?

These are the guidelines of “kaizen”, (改善), the Japanese philosophy of continuous improvement that greatly influenced Japanese business and became a cornerstone for the success of industry leaders, like Toyota, Sony, and many others.

According to Masaaki Imai, the founder of Kaizen strategy and Kaizen Institute, kaizen is based on ancient Japanese tradition and philosophy that achieves harmony through gradual and continuous improvement.

Remarkably, kaizen demonstrates that big results are achieved through many small changes. At the same time, kaizen offers all employees the authority to make improvements, not just upper management. It leads to better efficiency and effectiveness in an organization.

It also challenges the traditional Western approach – “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” – suggesting that there’s always room for improvement. Kaizen calls for appreciation of everyone’s input in the life of an organization, and suggests active participation from all staff members.

Another significant differentiator of kaizen is that it values holistic process-oriented management, productivity and quality control improvement involving the whole organization. Quite simply, kaizen aims at improving the organizational culture through a stimulating and supportive environment.

Does it bring innovation? You bet. But a different kind – the one that flows like a river, which never stops. Masaaki Imai said it better:

“Kaizen is like a hotbed that nurtures small and ongoing changes, while innovation is like magma that appears in abrupt eruptions from time to time.”

In summary, kaizen is more of a mindset than anything else. And you can start putting it into practice straight away.

For example, next week you can start your day by doing these three simple things:

1) Ask yourself one question today and every day – right now what can I do to make my non-profit better?

2) See the problem – fix it

3) Repeat the process

Yes, these steps seem incredibly simple. Yet making them a habit is much more difficult than you think, especially if your organization has a long history.
Nonetheless, you can begin small by making simple changes and inspiring others to follow suit. Of course, if you want maximum results, you will need to convince your peers to invest their time and energy in learning the best ways to implement kaizen principles at your non-profit.

Or as Masaaki Imai put it, “You can’t do kaizen just once or twice and expect immediate results. You have to be in it for the long haul.”

Are you?


Tom Davidson, EverFi: “The Real Key to Success – Working Really Hard On Whatever Place You Are in Life”


tom and tien
Tien Wong, Tech 2000 Inc. interviews Tom Davidson, EverFi at ConnectPreneur 2015

How do you become an entrepreneur? What are the qualities which help a young person to be successful in this challenging, ever-changing environment?

People take many different paths. But sometimes inspiration comes from the person closest to you, like your mother.

“When I was a kid,” shared Tom Davidson, the founder of EverFi, at another super successful ConnectPreneur session, featuring top DC entrepreneurs and VC firms, “my mother used to take us places and when she’d see someone working hard, she’d pull the car over, and pointed to the person, whoever it was at the moment, someone cleaning the street really well, and explained to us that this is the real key to success – working really hard on whatever place you are in life.

“It wasn’t about the empathy, but rather the ultimate respect and importance of hard work,” explained Tom. “That really was the foundation and inspiration for me. My mother instilled these qualities in me.”

Apart from respecting the work, you need to actually do it, and a lot of it.

Davidson trained his persistence when he was just a senior at Bowdoin College, when he ran for the Maine House of Representatives. There was a lot of resistance along the way, but he eventually got elected in 1994, and served three terms. Perseverance helped Tom knock on more than 30,000 doors!

After that, Davidson thrived as an investment banker and venture capitalist, investing in early-stage tech companies in education and social media areas.

Yet real entrepreneurs never stop after their achievements; they always have a strong vision for the next big thing. Starting EverFi company in a small Georgetown apartment along with his co-founders, Jon Chapman and Ray Martinez in 2008, he and his team created one of the most successful tech companies in the DC area! The company addressed critical challenges facing the millennial generation through innovative technology.

In 2013 EverFi reached an incredible result – its learning platform was used in over 5,000 K-12 schools and over 500 colleges and universities. Thanks to synergies with top corporate partners and foundations, EverFi was able to certify over 6 million students in various critical areas, like financial literacy, and safer decision-making.

Davidson believes that his success with EverFi comes in part from understanding how to hire the best people to support your start-up. “Ultimately, success comes when you surround yourself with brilliant people who are smarter than you!” says Davidson.

Another quality which stood out for me was Davidson’s unbeatable spirit, belief in his idea and ability to hustle.

Back in 2010, the company was at a crossroads and badly needed money for development. He had maxed out his credit cards, and hadn’t made payroll in two months, but he had the opportunity to pitch his company to new investors. Davidson had to sleep on a hotel couch the night before his pitch. And pitch he did – on that meeting he raised $11M!

When asked whether the investors knew about his dire circumstances, Davidson proudly answers – “Heck no, I was wearing my best suit, and best smile!”

How exactly do you persuade potential investors?

“You show your best performance — you have to come up with something spectacular for your pitch,” believes Davidson.

One final piece of advice was to always work on improving your company. This is the essential part that Davidson attributes to the success of EverFi.

“Success is measured on a weekly basis. Are we a better company today than we were a week ago?”

And what about you and your organization? Are you more capable than a week ago?


Andrey Gidaspov is a published author, creative fundraiser, and a passionate “dot connector.” He is passionate about connecting people and ideas, creating new social ventures and helping non-profits find new funding streams.

Follow him on Twitter (@AndreyGidaspov) and check out his blog ( for more useful tips on creativity, innovative marketing and fundraising.

Check out Andrey’s latest e-book, Reignite Your Thinking: Kickstart Your Career By Using Brains, Intuition and Creativity

Learn how you can raise money through LinkedIn for your start-up in my article – 7 Secrets of LinkedIn Fundraising for Your Startup

7.5 Top Blogging Secrets in 7 Minutes: How to Write Your Best Blog Post. Ever.


“Hey there… Here’s your tall Americano… Is there something else I can help you with? Hello?”
 The Starbucks barista stares at you. “Are you okay?” she asks with slight concern in her eyes.

Suddenly you’re back.

She has no idea you were thinking about your next LinkedIn Pulse article.

“Ah, yes, thanks! I’m fine. Thanks, I was just thinking. Sorry!”

You know the feeling.

You had your great a-ha moment in the car as you were driving through heavy Monday morning traffic filled with busy moms in their Odysseys and Siennas, driving at 20 miles an hour while talking on their phones.

It’s crazy, but you had no pen in the car.

You’ve got to scribble down that idea. What to do?

Finally you get to that Starbucks. Turning left. Waiting for another flow of traffic. Zoom, you’re there.

And then you’re standing in a long line of thirsty Monday commuters.

You’re still thinking of that perfect, perfect blog post. Dreaming and writing in your head.

When you finally get your coffee, you walk out an autopilot. In the car again, of course, you realize you forgot the pen.

And now you’re late to work.

First thing when you get to the office, you’ll write it down. Right?

Of course, when you finally sit down, the screen’s blank. Zip. Nothing. Black hole!

And there’s nothing coming out of you.

Where was that magnificent idea, you ask?

You know the feeling.

1) A Magic Tool

Why did this happen? You were missing your magic tool, of course.

Mark Twain had 40 or 50 of those.

George Patton learned of its importance in West Point.

George Lucas and Ernest Hemingway loved them too!

Yes, I’m talking about pocket notebooks, and you can read the examples of other 17 famous men who thought that life would be amiss if they didn’t carry them all the time.

And there are plenty of options today. From Moleskins to spiral-bound index cards, you can anchor your idea generation and innovation in those magic pages.

You must buy a notebook. Period.

Then every day starting from tomorrow, write every single idea (crazy, stupid, love) you have in that notepad.

You will never regret it.

Trust me. Or Mark Twain.

2) “One True Sentence”

Next, you look and listen deep inside of you. What is it that you need to share with the world?

There are two quotes from Hemingway on this, and both are applicable to any writer or blogger.

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”


“All you have to do is write one true sentence that you know.”

So of course, it’s entirely your choice to bleed or not to bleed, but you need to absolutely look for that “true sentence.”

Follow your gut feeling to discern the truth in you. You’ll know exactly when it comes out.

3) Tune In and Inspire Others

But what if you don’t know what to write about?


Maria Popova, the genius founder of the Brain Pickings, is a great example of a mega-curator of content, and, at the same time, original writer.

As quoted in the New York Times, Popova is “the mastermind of one of the faster growing literary empires on the Internet…and the champion of old-fashioned ideas.”

And how exactly do you inspire others by curating old books and ideas of the past?

Find content that you personally love to read. For me it’s innovation, creativity, social media, and business.

What’s it for you?

There’s no need to re-invent the wheel here. Just collect and share your passionate side with your friends.

In fact, according to Rainmaker.Fm, this is what “American newspapers did 300 years back, that was basically all that they did.”

Add powerful visuals and graphics, be original with your text.

Illustrate it with your thoughts and timely photos.

Check out Popova’s site for some ideas.

As her friend put it, she “somehow tunes in to what would make other people dream, or inspires them in a way that is quite unique.

4) Say it in 7 Minutes

By now, you’ve sweated some bullets and found your message.

You can’t stop this flow of genius and think of yourself as the next Na-Bo-Koff, or Tolstoy, or Fitzgerald…

The sky is the limit, right?

But suddenly you hear…

“Honey, would you mind taking out the trash?”


You know the feeling.

You were in the flow, but now you realize that your time on this Earth is finite.

You are not alone here. (Which is by the way, pretty good!)

That means that you MUST realize that your readers are not alone either. And you MUST respect their time.

Even if you’re the next Stephen King.

So what to do? How do we know where to stop?

Apparently, there are some knowledgeable people out there, who have looked into this and determined that the perfect length of your masterpiece should be no longer than 7 minutes, which translates to about 1,600 words max.

And that’s it.

If you won’t listen to me, you should listen to Anna, a mother of two and the founder of the Ask Anna blog, who claims that you can do 28 exciting things in 7 minutes, including folding a basket of laundry, starting a slow-cooker dinner, dusting a living room, greasing squeaky hinges, preparing oatmeal, and much more…

In other words, you have competition.

So make sure that reading your blog is more exciting than greasing squeaky hinges or folding a basket of laundry!

You know the feeling.

 Engage ‘Em!

Martyn Chamberlin asserts that “if you learn to engage your reader, you won’t need anything else.” Among other engagers and catalysts, you may use your personal story, a pinch of outrageousness, and most importantly, authenticity.

Another blogger, Joel Friedlander,recommends writing something “useful, or entertaining, or educational, or all three.” Or ask your readers’ opinion.

Annie Dillard, the author of The Writing Life, says it best:

Why are we reading, if not in hope of beauty laid bare, life heightened and its deepest mystery probed? Can the writer isolate and vivify all in experience that most deeply engages our intellects and our heats? Can the writer renew our hope for literary forms? Why are we reading if not in hope that the writer will magnify and dramatize our days, will illuminate and inspire us with wisdom, courage, and the possibility of meaningfulness, and will press upon our minds the deepest mysteries, so we may feel again their majesty and power?”

I’m sure, you know the feeling.

6) “Watch The First 54 Seconds. That’s All I Ask. You’ll Be Hooked After That, I Swear”

This headline was created by a totally disruptive website called Upworthy, the site that “posts viral videos with terrible headlines.” Yet, according to The Guardian’s article, Upworthy’s 100 most popular posts were viewed and shared more than 380 million times during 2013!

David Ogilvy once said, “When you have written your headline, you have spent 80 cents out of your dollar.”

According to CopyBlogger, on average, 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest.

What if you have no clue how to grab people’s attention? Is all lost?

Jeff Goins makes this task easy by offering 5 easy tricks to write your persuasive headline. He shares this brilliant and simple formula:

Number or Trigger word + Adjective + Keyword + Promise

How about that?

I love this example that Jeff provides:

“18 Unbelievable Ways You Can Bathe an Elephant Indoors”

What has your best headline been so far?

7) “Saturday Wait, and Sunday Always Comes Too Late”

I’m writing this late Friday night. The kids are already sleeping. I’m listening to Coldplay’s True Love. (By the way, it’s Saturday already. Oops!)

If you were to ask me – when do I post my content?

I’d say, hmm. There’s contradictory advice out there, so why don’t we experiment?

According TrackMaven, Blog posts get more shares on Saturday and Sunday than any other day of the week.

For LinkedIn, BufferSocial suggests avoiding weekends like the plague.

Well, I’m still going to try to publish it today, on Saturday, September 5, 2015, and see what happens with your help.

Go ahead and click those “Like and Comment” buttons (Please do!) I can’t wait to reach one million views.

You know the feeling.

7.5) Bonus Section: Why Bother Writing on LinkedIn?

When a group of Berkley University students asked Haruki Murakami, a bestselling author and practically a literary idol for millions of readers across the globe, about the “aha” moment that started his writing career at age 29, Murakami said it happened when he was watching his favorite baseball team, the Yakult Swallows.

And when Dave Hilton, an American player, hit a double, Murakami felt that wave urging him to write, “On that sunny day drinking beer, I just knew I could write.”

In other words, you should enjoy the process. Having fun while writing is the most important reason to do it.

Secondly, you should make your readers happy. Because reading helps people reduce stress and learn new things.

Finally, I will tell you why I enjoy writing on LinkedIn. Because, without these articles and connections, I’d never have met cool people, social innovators, visionaries, mentors, and 7,000+ inspiring individuals, like you, who share, advise, help and care every single day.

Doesn’t it feel great?

Well, you know the feeling.


7 Secrets of LinkedIn Fundraising for Your Startup


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.


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+.


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.”


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)

Ben Joffe @HAX: “The Lone Genius Myth Doesn’t Work in China”


Ben Joffe, @HAX

The Chinese hardware startup scene is hot. If you are interested in taking your startup to the next level, you may consider Shenzhen, a thriving “Silicon Valley” of hardware in China.

I asked my good friend, Ben Joffe, a serial entrepreneur and Asia strategist, who currently works as General Partner @ HAX, to share his views on the startup environment in China. Here is what he thinks.

1) Is there one city in China that can be truly called the best version of SV?

Each city or region in China has its advantages and drawbacks. Beijing is strong on software. Shenzhen is strong on hardware. In fact, it has more resources than Silicon Valley for going from 0 to 1 to many.

I see 6 components to a thriving startup ecosystem (for more on this theme, check Ben’s interview on Techcrunch):

(1) Market size => the US is still No.1 in terms of GDP.

(2) Capital (early stage to M&A/IPO) => China now has a strong angel scene, there’s also growth capital. However, M&A still weak.

(3) Talent => There are many engineers and entrepreneurs in China, but there’s lack of connection between research and entrepreneurship.

(4) Culture => Entrepreneurship is widely accepted. Failure in good faith is less detrimental than it used to be.

(5) Infrastructure => Web/mobile are good. Better people info now with events, salons, clubs for entrepreneurs and investors. Lacking the legal / accounting for speed and low-cost transactions.

(6) Regulations => Could be better. Faster to register a company, difficult to hire from overseas, though easier than in US. Also problem of “gray” offshore financial vehicles.

2) What are some pros and cons of startuping in China? 

If you’re not Chinese and target China market, it’s very hard. It’s like starting in the US when you don’t speak English and don’t know the culture. If you want to leverage the Shenzhen ecosystem for a global hardware startup, it’s easier than ever.

3) What are the differences between Chinese and European/US startupers? 

China is more competitive, faster, wilder. The scale startups can reach here is bigger than in Europe (think about the recent $100m+ funding rounds)

4) Is there a specific Chinese startup culture?

Yes. It’s now supported by “first generation startup people” who made money with Tencent, Alibaba, Baidu, etc.

It’s not as “pay it forward” as Silicon Valley, but here, SV is more the global anomaly than the rule!

5) Is it cool to be an entrepreneur in China these days?

Yes. But my perception is that people are not impressed with “innovation”. They want to see numbers: users, growth and/or revenue.

The “lone genius” myth you find in USA does not seem anywhere as strong in China.

6) You’ve been working for HAX for a few years now. Can you share some success stories and failures?

Too early to tell, as HAX is just 3 years old (a typical exit is 8 years), but:

Success stories:

– A few companies with valuations between $10-$50m: Particle, Makeblock, Yeelink.
– A few spectacular crowdfunded projects: CHIP, the $9 computer and Electroloom, the 3D printer for fabric, Prynt, who turns your smartphone into an instant camera and Kokoon, the smart headphones for sleep. 3 of them raised over $1M on Kickstarter!
– Many more in the making 🙂


– Some founder fights, some delays

7) Why are you doing this all over…again? 

It’s the right place, the right time and the right people!