With Memorial Day behind us, Summer has officially begun. While the season may mean long days and hot weather, it also signals the start of another period: the summer slowdown. It seems to happen every year — as the weather warms up, deal activity cools down.
While you may not be able to escape the summer slowdown entirely, there are a few ways you can use the relative inactivity to your advantage. Instead of focusing primarily on deals this summer — and fighting an uphill battle — use the time to invest in some non-core but valuable strategies.
Update Your Online Profiles
Establishing a strong online presence is becoming as important as ever. Not only are social media networks — like LinkedIn and Twitter — becoming central to communication and networking, the implementation of the JOBS Act is furthering the significance of online networks such as Axial that are exclusively focused on connecting entrepreneurs with the deal community. As such, take advantage of the summer downtime by updating your LinkedIn and Axial profiles, growing your network online, and building out the company pages for your firm or for your portcos.
In addition to using “People You May Know,” one of the best ways to find new connections on LinkedIn is to join relevant groups. There are countless M&A-specific and industry-specific groups that foster communication between relevant professionals. By joining these communities, you have an easy means of discovering and speaking to new contacts. Also consider using Advanced Search to find a new contacts, especially if you have an upgraded account.
To enhance your company page — and that of your portcos — write in the third person for a more professional tone. Utilize all the allowed links on your profile, including your company’s Twitter account and blog (if you have them). Keep your profile up-to-date, so people can get a real time snapshot of what you’re focused on.
Your Axial profile is a great way to establish new relationships and connect with relevant buyers. As you update your LinkedIn materials, be sure to give your Axial profile a review as well.
Like LinkedIn, Twitter is becoming an increasingly important community for relationship building. In addition to being a means of communication, it is an extremely effective — albeit at times overwhelming — source of information.
One way to quickly get started on Twitter is to follow interesting people. To make it easy for you, here are some lists of people worth following if you work on middle market transactions:
Click any of the lists above and press the “subscribe” button on the left side of the page. Instantly you’ll be following everyone on the list.
To really harness the power of Twitter, consider using news aggregators — like Paper.li or GetPrismatic — to segment and break down the influx of information. Or use a site like FollowerWonk to help you find the CEOs and businesses operating in the industries you target. By searching for relevant keywords, and appropriate industry thought leaders, you can begin to identify new trends and developments in the industry.
Expand Your Network by Attending Events
Attending conferences and events is one of the best ways to maximize the slower deal season. Since activity in the office will be at a lull, the opportunity cost of attending a conference is relatively low. If planned properly, events allow you to create new relationships, source new opportunities, or simply strengthen existing ties.
To make sure you are getting the most out of an event, prepare effectively by scheduling meetings and setting clear goals. Introduce yourself to as many people as possible, and don’t be shy about giving or asking for business cards. Applications like CardMunch, Evernote Hello, and 5Degrees can help you simplify your process of categorization and follow-up.
For real added benefit, do not limit your meetings and your networking to the conference attendees only. Consider scheduling meetings with firms headquartered in the same city/nearby areas, and even consider tacking a day on either side of your trip for a little extra time.
Refresh Your Marketing Collateral
You should also consider taking some time this summer to update your current sales and marketing collateral. By using the downtime to improve your materials, you’ll be prepared for the post-Labor Day boom with the most recent information and data about your firm.
One of the most important pieces of collateral is your website. Your website should be professionally made, aesthetically pleasing, and easily understood. Your site is your outer appearance to the online community, and therefore a reflection of your personal and professional competencies. As in person, a first impression is formed in a matter of seconds.
The importance of a first impression is also true for your investment teasers, which are simply marketing pieces for your deals. You can use the summer to learn some best practices around building the perfect investment teaser and then apply them to your current and future opportunities.