Building a startup is an all-consuming task, to say the least.
You’re up to your ears in industry research, user research, marketing, sales, product creation, team building, pitch development, investor conversations – the list goes on.
It would come as no surprise, then, if one of the last things on a founder’s mind is what’s happening on their LinkedIn profile.
But many founders don’t recognise what a missed opportunity this is.
LinkedIn is the social media platform for business.
It’s the one platform where people expect to be connected with on a professional level.
And it’s the one platform people will turn to when they’re trying to learn more about you as a founder.
These folks may be:
- Your user research candidates
- Your early-adopter customers
- Your prospective new hires
- Your potential investors
However, whenever I’m looking up a founder on LinkedIn to learn more about them and their startup, this is what I usually find:
- The profile copy is not optimised to speak to the beachhead market segment about their problems and desires
- The founder is not using it to grow their audience
- They’re not posting regular content to build authority in the space they’re trying to disrupt
These are three very important boxes to tick in the early stages of a startup when you’re trying to hit all your milestones to get to Product-Market Fit.
It’s easy to trivialise things like “social media” and “online presence” and dismiss them as optional extras.
But the truth is, your online presence is the difference maker when it comes to getting people who don’t already know you to understand who you are and what you’re about.
Most of the people you’ll be trying to appeal to on your startup journey will be people who don’t yet know you.
“Oh, but I’m not a copywriter. I’m not a marketing expert. I don’t know anything about social media.”
I hear these excuses from founders all the time.
So, here are five questions you can work through – and actions you can take from each question – to take the first steps to optimise your LinkedIn profile.
(Your best user research candidates, your most ideal early-adopter customers, and your most-aligned investors will thank you for it).
1. IS YOUR PROFILE PICTURE GIVING THE RIGHT IMPRESSION?
Too often, a founder’s LinkedIn profile pic is:
– Out of focus
– Too close up or too far away
– Badly li
– Too casual (that 10pm photo from your work leaving do, beer in hand, is probably not doing you justice)
– Inauthentic or misrepresenting the founder in some way (perhaps too serious if they are a more casual or lighthearted person)
It’s the first thing to fix.
ACTION: Take a smartphone outside in the natural light in smart clothing you feel comfortable in. (Or stand against a nice wall inside with even natural light shining toward your face).
Either use a tripod and position it at head height, or get someone else to take the photos.
The key is to take more photos than you think. Snap a series of slightly different pics (e.g. some smiling with teeth, some without) so you have a good number to choose your favourite from.
2. DOES YOUR BANNER MAKE IT CLEAR WHAT PROBLEM YOU SOLVE?
Too often, a founder’s LinkedIn banner:
– Is just a photo of something random (like a city skyline)
– Features just a business logo with no clear message
– Doesn’t make it clear what problems the person solves or what vision they are working on
– Doesn’t show a way for customers to take the next logical step with the business
ACTION: Spend 10 mins in Canva (or an equivalent image-creation tool) and use the LinkedIn banner template to create one that:
a) Makes it clear the key problem you’re solving
b) Shows a clear way for your customers to take the next logical step with you (if that exists, though if you’re in a user research phase, that may not exist yet)
3. DOES YOUR HEADLINE MAKE IT CLEAR WHAT YOU DO AND WHO YOU HELP?
Your headline, or your bio text, is the first thing other LinkedIn users see alongside your profile picture when you request to connect with them, or when they visit your profile.
If your headline just says something along the lines of [position title], [company name] – that doesn’t offer any value and won’t communicate the clearest message.
ACTION: The best thing to do is to create an ‘audience statement’ for your headline.
Audience statements can follow a variety of different formulas, but to start, here’s a simple formula to follow:
“[Helping] [your most valuable client] [get] [the thing they want] [without] [this painful thing].”
“[Helping] [your most valuable client] [get] [the thing they want] [so they can] [have this awesome thing].”
4. HAVE YOU MADE THE MOST OF YOUR “FEATURED” SECTION?
The “Featured” section is the first thing visitors to your profile see after they scroll down from your profile picture, banner & headline.
Most founders have nothing featured and are not using this key piece of real estate effectively.
ACTION: Create 3 key pieces of content you’ve created (articles, newsletters, links to YouTube videos, etc.) that do these 3 things:
a) Highlight the gap in your ideal customer’s situation
b) Talk about an outcome or transformation that’s possible for them (related to what you’re building in your startup)
c) Offer a useful free resource that can help them take a step towards that outcome or transformation
After the 3 content pieces have been created and posted to your news feed, press the 3 dots on the top right of each post and select “Feature on top of profile,” and they’ll stay in the featured section of your profile.
5. IS YOUR “ABOUT” SECTION ABOUT YOU OR YOUR CUSTOMER?
Most founders waste their LinkedIn “About” section with text about themselves instead of their ideal customers’ challenges and desires.
It’s important to flip that and put the spotlight on the customers and the issues they’re experiencing (that are related to the solution you’re building in your startup).
ACTION: Write a clear paragraph:
a) Asking a question that resonates with a problem or desire your ideal customer has
b) Specifically describing the challenges you know they face and the situation they’re likely to be in
c) Outlining how your solution solves those challenges (if you’re up to that – skip this if you’re still doing user research)
d) Stating how to take the next logical step with you (it might be filling out a form, sending an email, or taking a certain action on a web page)
Optimising your LinkedIn profile will give you great clarity on how to communicate your startup vision with the right people.
Once the profile is optimised, you can start building your audience and posting relevant content for them that grabs their attention (and generates leads for you).
If you’re a founder navigating the early stages of your startup and you’re looking for help to optimise your social media presence to allow you to generate leads and do other things, like attract investors, fill out this short questionnaire, and introduce your startup to us. We’ll help you with your next logical step.
Whenever you’re ready, here’s how we can help you.
If you’ve got a startup idea, or you’ve already embarked on your journey – you might be facing one or both of these situations.
- You’re struggling while going it alone. Worse, you’re wading in the muddy waters of some not-so-great advice.
- Perhaps you’re trying to raise capital for your startup and you’re hitting a dead end. Raising capital is a notoriously difficult thing to do. Globally, only 0.74% of startups manage to raise capital at Seed stage. Despite this, 16% of startups we’ve worked with were able to raise capital at Seed stage.
If you’re ready to step up and get the help you need, our Startup Builder™ program was created especially for you.
The Startup Builder™ process is specifically designed to take you all the way from idea to global success – in a way that’s simple, sustainable, and scalable.
If you’re ready to grow your revenue, profit, and social impact faster without wasting time and money on the wrong things at the wrong time, click here to request your Startup Builder™ Strategy Session.
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