Sheri Atwood, the Founder and CEO of SupportPay, shares her do’s and don’ts of one of her most fruitful business tools… LinkedIn.
The Do’s of Using LinkedIn to Raise Money:
Play by the rules. Understand the income rules for accredited investors and how that income maps to job titles. Typically a Director or higher in a larger tech corporation would meet the income requirements.
Experience trumps newbie every time. Seek people who have invested before. Savvy investors are easier to communicate with and convince to invest vs a person who hasn’t invested previously. LinkedIn shows what companies the person has advised or is on the board.
Like for like. Look for investments in similar industries but not competitors. Identify companies that could be a partner for you and then go to their company page. Typically on the company page there are people linked to the company including founders, investors and advisors.
Read the about page! Do you research! Before trying to contact the person make sure you know their background, what they have invested in before, any successful exits or insight into what they like to invest in. You can see mine here.
Share your friends! Find someone in your network that is connected to the person you are targeting and ask them to make an introduction. Sure you can use InMAIL to send someone a note directly but most times those emails just go into the spam bucket. Having an intro from someone that is known to the contact is much more likely to get a response.
Going up? Create a short elevator paragraph on why you want to talk to the person and what is in it for them to talk to you. Use this paragraph at the end of your request for the introduction so the person doing the introduction doesn’t have to do any work except hit the forward button. If you require the person who is doing the introduction to do any work your chance of an introduction (and one that represents you correctly) decreases dramatically.
KISS (keep it short & simple). If you do contact someone directly, make sure to make it short and sweet but also relevant. Prove you read their profile and you know what they do and their background. Refer to something that you may have in common with the person, whether it’s a mutual connection or a common experience. Ask for 15 minutes of their time and suggest 3 days/times to meet or talk.
Use the forms. If you can’t get an intro and you don’t want to “cold email” someone then send a connection request first. Don’t use the generic text for the invite. Use this to just get the person to connect to you, using the tips from above. Once they accept your connection you at least know there is some openness to a connection and your chance of a response is much higher
The Don’ts of LinkedIn:
Thou shall not spam! Don’t blast every person in an investment group or all your contacts with your “AWESOME, AMAZING, GREAT IDEA”. Not only is this annoying, it’s the first email to go to the trash bin and may also get a spam flag (which means you could be kicked out of LinkedIn for violating their terms).
Focus on service. Don’t make it about you – make it about them. There is nothing worse than receiving an email or contact from someone saying how great they are and how they want this or they want that and there is nothing clear as to why you should waste your time even finishing reading the email. How will the person benefit from talking to you? Why should they take time out of their busy schedule to meet with you?
Date first! Don’t really date, but DO get to know the person as you would any business relationship. Don’t Ask for money. You need to create a relationship with the person before you can ask them to get out their paycheck. Sounds counterintuitive but when you are fundraising and looking for money, ask for advice. When you are looking for advice, ask for money.
What are your favorite tools in business?