January 12, 2010
Editor’s Note: This article was written by Christopher S. Rollyson a longtime TECH cocktail supporter in Chicago. Chris has been a marketing and technology pioneer for over twenty years, with distinction in corporate strategy and innovation. You can find his Executive’s Guide to Web 2.0 online and follow him on Twitter at: @csrollyson.
Did you know that LinkedIn was designed to reduce the start-up business cycle—but very few entrepreneurs know how to use it? Read on for five quick tips that will get you to money faster.
Finding Your Niche
There’s no secret here, you have a burn rate, so you need to find customers or funding as soon as possible. A huge win would be finding a client who can validate your technology or offering so that other clients or investors’ mouths will water. Or, an investor to help get you to the point of presenting to customers. Your success will be largely based on:
- Articulating a strategy tuned to the reality of the market (out of scope here).
- Finding people that can introduce you to relevant customer or investor prospects.
- Developing an on-point value prop so that when you get in front of said investor or customer, you will have the impact to drive the conversation.
Think of these as transactions. You are getting appointments with profs, ex-colleagues, and relevant friends who listen to your pitch, advise you on adjusting it, and suggest other people you need to approach. That’s old school. Getting on someone’s calendar is high-cost time-wise, your mortal enemy when you have a burn rate.
Using LinkedIn to Shorten Your Time to Money
The game is converting as many of the above offline transactions to LinkedIn as possible to take advantage of lower transaction costs. For example:
- Find Angels/VCs whose portfolio strategies fit your venture—ask entrepreneurs their experiences with certain angels or VCs, and don’t overlook sites like The Funded. Use LinkedIn Group discussions and LinkedIn Answers to ask venture-savvy entrepreneurs, attorneys, marketers and bankers for suggestions. This is much faster than meetings and phone calls. True, you will have calls and meetings, but when you do it right, you will spend that time with better qualified people.
- Put your general 10-slide deck on LI and refer people to it, using LinkedIn’s Slideshare App.
- Use Group discussions and Answers to engage people with the business, culture and technology issues your venture solves. No one cares about your solution, they only care about how it reduces threats or increases opportunities. Focus on that threat and opportunity by asking questions and starting discussions.
- Ask yourself, “Who has the access or the expertise that I need to succeed?” People can give you access to other people. People can give you expertise you need to achieve milestones. What do these people look like, and what are their interests, and how can you help them? Connect with those people on LinkedIn, and make sure you know how you can help them. You don’t have to give them as much as you’re asking for right away, but you need to be aware of their interests and how you can help them.
- Tweet relevant tidbits, and use LinkedIn’s Twitter App to share with Connections. Use LinkedIn’s WordPress App and BlogLink App to share your latest posts on your Profile.
- Linkedin is a digital representation of the real world, but in being digital, it can significantly cut the time needed: to find relevant customers and VCs, and to develop trust with them.
- Any founder will go through these steps, but offline and more expensively. Use LinkedIn to speed transactions and burn less cash.
- Your competitors look at LinkedIn and Facebook as experimental websites, and this can be your advantage if approach it more seriously. Focus and execute.
- Don’t get caught up in LinkedIn vs. Facebook vs. Twitter: focus on the people you want to meet: where do they have the most relevant discussions? Meet them there.
Oh and don’t forget to join the Tech Cocktail LinkedIn Group too. 😉
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