Young entrepreneurs are no strangers to social media. Back in the earliest days of social media – before it was even called that – LinkedIn came on the scene to connect professionals around the world. A sort of online global networking party, if you will.
Fast forward to 2020, and LinkedIn boasts over 690 million users. That’s nearly a tenth of the entire global population! As a member of Gen-Z, we know you’re probably already on sites like Instagram, TikTok, and SnapChat. But as a member of the young entrepreneur community, you may want to consider a LinkedIn account if you don’t have one already.
Your business needs a brand, and that brand needs to be seen by as many potential customers and investors as possible. The more people see your brand on LinkedIn, the more connections you will make. And the more connections you have, the more likely it is you’ll find quality investors, partners, and customers.
Remember, you’re pretty new on the scene. More than ever, it’s important to get your name and brand out there. Setting your business up with an account on LinkedIn is a fast and easy way for people to get to know you.
A mentor is an incredible asset for any young entrepreneur. And LinkedIn is a great way to find one. Since the site is full of professionals, you can use hashtags and groups to filter accounts by your field of interest. Start following people or businesses that inspire you and seem friendly. Like and share their posts. Comment with something you feel is insightful or ask a question to engage them. You never know who will respond!
This is how you network online. It can be a slow process, so be patient but persistent. Remember that everyone on LinkedIn is there to network and connect, so you aren’t bothering anyone and you’re not out of line. This is the place to speak up and make yourself a known entity.
We know this seems like yet one more chore for you. This is why we highly recommend using a social media organizational tool for your business on LinkedIn. This way you can create posts ahead of time and schedule them to go live on your feed at a certain time every day. These tools can also help you sift through comments, reposts, and track important accounts you follow.
The key here is visibility. You don’t have to be witty or write 500-word essays for each day you post. Reposts, quotes, or links to things you find interesting (and related to your field) show you are out there in the world and on top of what’s happening.
SHARE YOUR COMPANY’S VALUES
Without getting overly political or religious, LinkedIn is a great way to tell the world what you and your business stand for. People and companies with like-minded values will be better able to find and connect with you this way. Whether it’s working towards ending child poverty in your community or sending clean water and water filters to people who need them, make yourself shine by promoting strong values and a commitment to community service.
When sharing your company’s values, be as specific as possible without getting bogged down in too many details. Everyone wants to “help children.” Use your profile to share how, exactly, you are doing this. Doing so will increase the chances others in your field will find you.
IT AIN’T BRAGGIN’ IF IT’S THE TRUTH
When you set up your LinkedIn profile, make sure you show off your biggest accomplishments and everything you’ve achieved so far. Got into Harvard already? That goes in your profile. Led your debate team to a state championship? Profile. Interned for your city mayor? Profile.
You get the idea.
Not everything needs to go in your profile, though. Winning your local movie theater’s raffle, for example, is not going to improve how potential bosses view your business. Focus on real-life skills, such as leadership, communication, and sales. Point out the ways your skills have helped others.
When you list awards, make sure they are ones related to something you achieved through hard work and good habits.
STAY UP TO DATE
Every time your enterprise hits a milestone, celebrate it on LinkedIn. Potential customers and investors want to see growth and achievements, not stagnation. Show the world that you will not be left behind as everyone else in your field moves forward. Even the smallest things, like changing the font on your website, should be celebrated! “We upgraded our user experience for better customer engagement!”
Nothing says, “I’m a team player” like reposting others in your field. We’re not saying you have to give your competition free advertising. But look around online and elsewhere on LinkedIn for interesting people in your field. When they succeed, be public with your happiness for them. Everyone loves a cheerleader. It boosts morale and makes you look like a fun, thoughtful, and positive young entrepreneur.
Don’t just post and run. When others repost you, be sure to thank them. When others respond, be sure to engage in conversation.
Ask questions. Take informal polls. (“Would you rather have an extra hour per day or an extra $50 per week?”) Creating connections on LinkedIn only works if you are active, engaged, and responsive. (This is where those social media tools we mentioned above will really come in handy.)
Ready to get started? This handy checklist can help you build and maintain a top-notch student profile on LinkedIn. Still need inspiration? Here are a few recent winners of the Kantner Foundation Scholarship and their LinkedIn profiles.
Florida’s young entrepreneurs are encouraged to apply for a Kantner Foundation college scholarship. Learn more by clicking here!