LinkedIn as Thought Leadership Tool to Find Investors

Part of finding investors through LinkedIn entails having a robust personal profile and company page demonstrating thought leadership. A profile detailing your accomplishments and knowledge of your industry creates trust and shows your knowledge is up to date on industry trends. This inspires investors to take a chance and engage with you.

What is Thought Leadership?

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Thought leadership is a term coined by Joel Kurtzman in 1994, defined as people who have “business ideas which merited attention.” Thought leadership cannot be claimed by an individual; it is a status bestowed to a person by their community. Rather than just having extensive niche or expert knowledge, thought leaders share their knowledge in various venues.

Daniel Rasmus provided this definition:

Thought leadership should be an entry point to a relationship. Thought leadership should intrigue, challenge, and inspire even people already familiar with a company. It should help start a relationship where none exists, and it should enhance existing relationships.

On meriting attention, Brian Clark of copyblogger.com stated,

In the realm of content marketing, authority is demonstrated, not claimed. Which means leaders are not born or made — they’re selected by the intended audience (much more in line with my more egalitarian experience of how content marketing works). If you have the attention of an audience, you’re a leader already. And great leaders plan, listen, observe, inspire, and then give direction. But most of all they continue to demonstrate, in this case by freely sharing their valuable knowledge via content.

Thought leaders not only share their knowledge nor hold the attention of an audience, they pave a path for the future and causes disruption. Investors that you connect with need to be able to share the same vision of the future as you.

LinkedIn Profile

Within your LinkedIn profile, you can utilize the Headline, Summary, Update, Publication, and Reading List sections in addition to integrating Slideshare. The Headline and Summary section should mention important content that you have written, such as books. The Summary can also be used to list articles and professional papers you have written or contributed towards. Updates should be posted once daily with original or curated content you find valuable. Updates are visible only to your network but can be changed to public. The Publication section is used to link to books, articles, white papers and other professional written materials authored by you. The Reading List section shows books you have read and/or are currently reading. This is useful for showing that you’re staying on top of the latest information in your field. Integrating Slideshare is good for providing additional original content and even past presentation slides.

Tools

Rather than just staying on your profile to demonstrate thought leadership, using Groups, Answers and Polls are good ways to be recognized by your community as a thought leader. With Groups, you can submit your own content for discussion or join discussions by asking thoughtful questions. This is a good way to be known then eventually recognized as someone with valuable knowledge. LinkedIn allows joining up to 50 groups, so take the offer and join 50! Answers is another great way to show your thought leadership in niche areas because there are many categories and subcategories. This allows targeting specific audiences. To take it a step further, Polls asks the public to engage with you and share their thoughts without requiring comments. Conducting a Poll can bring awareness towards you as the person who submitted the Poll and may lead to further discussions of the topic.   You don’t have to be an acclaimed thought leader, but sharing original and curated content shows a high level of credibility in your space.  Typically, it will eventually lead to “capitalizing on the dramatically enhanced brand equity attained by being a thought leader.” In other words, it will help lead to investors investing in you.

Get Inside the Mind of an Unpredictable Investor

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Credits: Desri Tate

“Emotion trumps logic.”

Investors do not make funding decisions rationally. Take the time to understand investor psychology and your startup will be at an advantage in the funding game. First, you have to know what drives investors positively and negatively. Second, its not about money for investors. And lastly, you aren’t there to sell your product. On the positive side, investors are driven by the need to be ahead of the trends, to be part of something amazing and they are looking for a great experience. They are searching for an emotional experience they can’t get anywhere else. On the negative side, they are risk and loss averse. Wikipedia defines loss averse as, “the tendency for people to strongly prefer avoiding losses than acquiring gains. Some studies suggest that losses are as much as twice as psychologically powerful as gains.” Investors, especially angel investors, have higher risk yet fund companies 10x more than venture capitalists. Since angel investors fund only a few startups, each of those startups are a high risk for them, meaning, your company is also a high risk. How can you use these two differing perspectives to your advantage? Why is it that despite a higher risk for angel investors, they still fund more companies than VCs? By offering investors an experience so enthralling, investors are willing to forego their fear of failure, shame and loss. The experience is what matters to investors, not the money. Geoffroy T. Roach states in  Angel Investing: A Case Study of the Processes, Risk and Internal Rate of Return:

“Angels may invest for reasons other than solely economic gain and are not rational investors from the perspective of many economic theories…The second reason is the satisfaction that one feels from being involved in a startup business…Angels see themselves as investors who play an active part in the company.”

If you allow investors to take part in your company, that experience of being part of a rich experience will overcome their fears. Here are words directly from angel investor Ron Conway:

“It’s not about the money. For me, it’s one simple word: Because it’s interesting. Angel investing is the most interesting thing you will ever do. If I could, I would convince you in seven minutes to take the leap and start angel investing. Because if you talk to an entrepreneur, and they are starting a company—usually, there are about four cofounders in each new company—you get to listen to those entrepreneurs tell you what is going to happen in the future. Entrepreneurs are a crystal ball telling the technology industry where it’s going to be in four to five years. There cannot be anything more exciting and interesting than being part of that. I’m just completely addicted to it. There is no way I’m going to stop.”

Angel investors, like Ron Conway, enjoys experiencing the passion and conviction of entrepreneurs. However, trust is paramount in acquiring funding from an investor. Ron Conway states that he invests in entrepreneurs first rather than their ideas. There’s no doubt that someone else can create a better product than you but what stands out is you. What is being sold is you and trust, not a product.

Teaser Videos for Easily Distracted Investors

30 October, 21.25Credit: Timo Arnall

According to Dave McClure, most investors have a short attention span. This is why we recommend using video in your presentation towards investors, especially when reaching investors online. When videos are used in crowdfunding campaigns and on AngelList or Gust, it is much easier to articulate your message quickly and in an effective manner. Using videos has become a trend, such that Angel Investors and Venture Capitalists such as Bain Capital Ventures Innovation Center encourages start-ups to pitch them virtually with videos.

“So when reviewing 20, 50 or 100 submissions for funding during the screening process, I have found that it is incredibly helpful to be able to watch a quick (2-3 minute) video elevator pitch so that I can get an instant gut feel for the entrepreneur and the company. I’ll be looking for all those same clues that I’d be watching for during an in-person meeting.” – David S. Rose, CEO of Gust

You don’t want to simply talk at the camera how you normally would in a presentation with investors. Understand and optimize video as a medium and use it to your advantage. Video is art, and in art, there are principles and rules.

“Show, don’t tell.” This simple rule in creative writing can be applied to any art medium. Show your passion and energy. Show who you are and your credibility. Show your product–even better, show people using your product and how it affects them, if possible, emotionally.  Show the story behind your start-up. DJZ and MUBI are good examples you can learn from.

Chip and Dan Heath discovered 6 principles that makes an idea stick–they call it SUCCESs, an acronym:

Simple — Simplicity isn’t about dumbing down an idea but finding the core of the message and prioritizing it

Unexpected —  Surprise the audience

Concrete — Get rid of abstractions and use sensory language

Credible — An idea is credible through outside authorities or from within with stats and details

Emotional — Focus on emotion rather than logic or numbers

Stories — Use a narrative to explore an idea

By applying these 6 principles, your video will be engaging and more influential. As for content, your video should let the investor know who you are, what problem you are solving, who the product benefits, and how you will implement your plan. For the problem and solution, consider this rhetorical question Dave McClure asks: ““How does your solution tap into the emotional, powerful, evolutionary needs that we as humans have?”

The purpose of your product will always be human driven and derives from emotions. Go on, tell your story with video and capture the attention of investors.