How to Use LinkedIn to Find Potential Investors
Although LinkedIn can’t guarantee that you’ll find the right funding partner, get the money you need, and build your business with a great return on investment, using LinkedIn can help you improve your chances of success when dealing with the funding and growth of your business.
No matter what stage your business is in, whether you just thought of a new business idea or invention, you’re building a prototype, you earned your first dollar of revenue, or you just hit $1 million in sales, LinkedIn can be an invaluable resource for reaching the next step and beyond.
Although you may be an expert in your field, you could probably use some good advice from existing venture capitalists, angel investors, or successful entrepreneurs when it comes to obtaining financing. LinkedIn Answers allows you to tap a vast network of knowledgeable folk who are experts in that field and gladly give general and specific tips.
And although LinkedIn Answers has a special category for Startups and Small Business, the focus is on the areas of VC and angel funding here. If you’re not ready for that big investment, definitely check out the Startups and Small Business category of LinkedIn Answers for advice.
When you’re ready to use LinkedIn Answers to get answers to your specific questions regarding VC or angel funding, just follow these steps:
Roll your mouse over the More link from the top navigation bar; then click the Answers link from the drop-down list that appears.
You are promptly brought to LinkedIn Answers.
Scroll down the LinkedIn Answers home page, locate the Browse section on the right side of the page, and then click the link for Finance and Accounting to find the Financing subsection.
Select Financing, which expands the view to reveal the Venture Capital and Private Equity category.
When you go to that category, you see a targeted list of questions for this area.
You can pose a question from a very general perspective or target a highly specific topic. Sample questions people have asked include:
What’s the difference between a venture capitalist and an angel investor?
What are some good venture capital websites?
Who should I go to for nontraditional funding of a startup?
Who are the venture capitalists who invest in scalable open source ventures?
What is the best way to seek interim funding during a period of heavy VC negotiations?
How do venture capitalists view venture debt before, during, and after different funding rounds?
LinkedIn members have used the Financing subsection of LinkedIn Answers to get critiques or reviews of their executive summaries, directly ask for a VC or angel investor to consider their venture, or ask other entrepreneurs how their experience was with a particular VC or angel investor. Most questions, pleas for help, and advice solicitation have received multiple responses, from the one- or two-sentence reply to the pages-long exposition of precise advice and list of accompanying Web sites or contact information.
If you’re thinking of using LinkedIn Answers, here are some of the best ways to do so:
Before you post, search the database. Believe it or not, you might not be the first person with your particular question to approach the LinkedIn community. Take the time to search LinkedIn Answers to see whether someone has asked your question or a variation of it.
Get the information you’re missing. If you’re writing your business plan to get funding and you need some more information to supplement one of your sections, ask the LinkedIn community for the facts.
When asking for advice, be as specific as possible. Your question can gauge people’s experiences and ask for advice, instead of a fact or figure. When asking for advice, though, help your audience by being as specific with your request as possible. Asking for help is one thing, but asking for three ways to strengthen your proposal will probably generate more replies.