The Great Reset?

This past week there has been fear circulating among founders and private investors who hold stock in certain early stage startups that have achieved sky-high valuations.

Why the fear?

The startups in question are privately held, meaning that the founders and early stage investors own shares in the companies, but shares have not yet been offered for sale to members of the public.

Many of these startups have achieved record valuations, based largely on a hope among investors that they will be able to sell shares in these companies to members of the public at even more inflated prices when the companies are eventually sold via IPO.

Early stage investors are willing to bet big because they are desperately searching for the next big win, the next Facebook, Airbnb or Whatsapp.  And they have been comforted by the fact that, if their optimistic expectations don’t come to pass, they should still be able to break even or turn a small profit by passing the buck onto a hapless public.

This form of aggressive investing has produced a record number of unicorns (that is, startups with a valuation of more than $1 billion). Unfortunately for all the Venture Capitalist cowboys, though, prices for tech companies in the public markets have been falling, and this has started to make unicorns that are yet to float on the stock market look over valued. Business Insider reports that “[o]ver the past year, LinkedIn shares have fallen by about 52%.”

Falling prices in the public markets means that a fear of missing out on the next big thing appears to have morphed into a fear of losing money. Early stage investors will need to reset their expectations, ignore the startup hype and return to investing basics by looking for companies with a proven business model.

How Consultants Can Use Social Media to Brand Themselves

How Consultants Can Use Social Media to Brand Themselves

This is a guest post from Archie Ward, a business consultant and social media strategist. Archie splits his time each year between Asia and Australia. While he is hard at work helping other people make their businesses successful, he hopes to launch his own by year end.

Consultants rely on image as much as they do with any other form of credibility, and one of the avenues technology has provided for consultants to easily differentiate themselves from others in their field is through the use of social media.

There are several different platforms that consultants can use to develop their image and stand out from the competition, and utilising social media is a great first step. Self promotion is something that the most successful consultants all do.

Blogging

Improving personal branding through social media is an obvious first step for anyone looking to be a consultant. A consultant’s brand name is perhaps their most valuable asset, and building a blog with lots of great free content is a smart and scalable way to start building that brand.

Blogs are nothing new, but are one of the best ways for social media and personal branding to coexist.

If a consultant has a great online platform through a blog, then their work can be show cased to the world and potential customers will be able to view their knowledge of the industry as well as see the consultant’s work over time. Whenever a potential customer Googles the consultant’s name, it helps to have a well maintained website show up with all of the consultant’s past work.

Once you are ranking for your own name within Google, then you know that you can attract repeat visits from people you have met briefly at conferences or other functions. People tend to lose business cards, but if you make a real impression on someone, they will Google you, and you do want them to be able to find you with one click.

LinkedIn

Another great social media resource that consultants must use to brand themselves is LinkedIn.

Known as the largest network for professionals available today, LinkedIn has a lot of features that allow a person to show case their work in electronic form.

There are areas on a LinkedIn profile where a consultant can upload work from past projects. In addition, if a client is satisfied with the work completed by a consultant then there is an area where they can leave a recommendation. Having the ability to display real reviews from satisfied customers is a great way to improve the credibility and brand recognition of a consultant. In addition, there are also options to display different skills through the LinkedIn profile and have connections and former clients endorse for those skills. This is important because if a consultant is in the health care field, for example, and a potential client sees recommendations and endorsed skills in that area, then that will go a long way towards landing that client.

It all comes back to having a blog. Once you make that new post go live, you want to post it to LinkedIn, and make sure it’s posted to the types of groups that are able to find it useful. If you can have it read by just one influential person, and they feel compelled to share it, your social reach could explode over night.

Investing Time and Money

One thing that many consultants may notice at the beginning of their journey of using social media to brand themselves is that a significant amount of time and money are needed in order to get started. A social media strategy should be a well thought out plan that allows for the time and money investment required.

There are many different ways in which a consultant could wisely spend money and time on developing their social media strategy and building their platform. This might include taking classes on how to build a web site, on SEO techniques, understanding your Klout score, determining if it’s a worthwhile investment to get into Facebook advertising or re-marketing. Building an email list can become essential at one point, once you have a core group of followers.