5 LinkedIn tips for life science entrepreneurs

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For life science entrepreneurs and professionals looking to build a business, search for the next opportunity or simply network, having a LinkedIn page is a necessity. But the passion people devote to looking for a job or investors on LinkedIn can come off as desperation and lead to bad practices like being overly familiar with people you've never met, having a picture of Brad Pitt as your profile photo or misspelling the name of the drug you've worked for years to develop.

Here's a guide to which LinkedIn practices to embrace and which to avoid, much of it cultivated from the insights of Wayne Barz, manager of entrepreneurial services at the incubator Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeast Pennsylvania, and Steven Raz, co-founder and managing partner of pharmaceutical and biotechnology executive search firm Cornerstone Search Group.

Don't use LinkedIn like Facebook. One of things people like about LinkedIn is that it is a professional social media network, emphasis on professional. So if your profile picture includes your girlfriend, boyfriend, kids, pets or friends, replace it with a photo of yourself in clothes you would wear to the office. Think professional and conservative. No photo? Thought you dodged a bullet there? Get one, or people might think you rarely update your profile, or just don't care. Also, be sure the photo is from this decade and bears at least a passing resemblance.

Treat your profile statement as an elevator pitch. For life science entrepreneurs, what should a room of investors know about you and your business? For networkers or job seekers, what are your career interests and your specialties? Be clinical in your approach and detail driven, Barz says, but don't give away your intellectual property. Have several people check your profile for spelling and grammar mistakes. Avoid bizarre headlines like 'Top Wizard' or 'King of Turnaround,' cautions Raz. Use acronyms sparingly and use search engine friendly words so that you will be easy to find for professionals in your specialty.

Protect your network. People tend to be more assertive online than in person. Resist the urge to immediately add someone who you think could be useful as a contact if they are two or three steps removed from you. Request an introduction, but don't make it awkward for the person receiving this request. If you're determined to make the connection, at least email a sentence or two explaining who you are and why you want to connect. Barz observes that lately he has received a lot of requests from people he has never heard of. Also, be careful about what invitations you accept. Don't do it if it's not a good fit.

If you reach out to investors, be strategic and be careful. Barz recommends against reaching out to investors directly. Instead, cultivate a network or join a group where you are more likely to have the opportunity to interact. 'It's just like emailing an investor your business plan. If they don't know you, they're not likely to look at it,' Barz said.

Be active. Barz and Raz always check out the level of activity on a LinkedIn user's profile page. How do you show that you're active? Post updates on a regular basis. And network, network, network. Raz recommends having more than 500 members in your network and having about five recommendations. Join a LinkedIn group with people who are influential in an area that interests you and that has active discussions on topics that are useful and relevant to you and your business. Participating in these online discussions is another way to raise your profile.

[Photo by - localmarketer]

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