1. Upate your LinkedIn profile monthly. Frequent updates helps keep your profile visible in search results.
2. Invite at least five people to join your network monthly. This is ongoing prospecting. Add contacts to your LinkedIn contact base. Over 12 months, that’s 60 contacts.
3. Update your LinkedIn URL with your name. Log in to your account. Click on the Profile tab. On the right side of the tab you will see a link to “Edit Public Profile Settings.” Click the link and change the URL to end with /yourname. This personally brands your URL.
4. Share news. What are you working on? When you log in to LinkedIn, look to the left nav for the box “What are you working on.” Click on the link to enter a short phrase. LinkedIn aggregates these and sends people in your network a message with news about several people. This is a great way to share what’s going on in your business life, without sending too many emails to colleagues.
5. Honors & Awards. Update your profile for those search results. Here is a great place. If you or your company received an honor or award add it to your profile. This section also adds interest to your profile for people in your network.
6. Make Your Profile Meaningful. Add Web Sites. You can add your company and your blog as Web Sites to your profile. I link to SCORE for my company and Dress for Success as my other link http://www.dressforsuccess.org.
Maybe, you want to let others know about SCORE. Please do. And, thanks! You can use the “Other” Web site link to make a Web Link for SCORE Biz Mentors and set it to http://www.score.org.
Use the “Other” Web hotlink in LinkedIn to name a favorite link & set it to a charity or cause. You want to promote your business, so add your site & blog, plus a community link to your LinkedIn profile.
There are no Small Business Association loan programs solely for women and no federal government set-asides for women in regular loan programs. Programs like 7A, 504 and micro-loans provide guarantees for commercial loans to qualified small businesses regardless race or gender. (The SBA does track the number that go to women and minorities.) Through partners like SCORE and others, they support minorities, including women, with technical assistance in preparing loan applications.
Count Me In for Women’s Economic Independence is, according to their website, “the leading national not-for-profit provider of resources and business education for women entrepreneurs.” They have two programs. The first is “Make Mine a Million” for women with businesses over two years old and with revenues over $250,000. It offers a combination of “money, mentoring, marketing and technology tools.” The second is “Micro to Millions,” for businesses below those benchmarks, which offers awards of “financing up to $5,000, PR opportunities and business coaching” to support women.
SCORE counselors are nearby to help women, and some counselors are women as well. While not lenders or microloan providers, counselors support women every day by recommending financing alternatives and reading business plan drafts.
Women’s Business Development Centers (WBDCs), like SCORE chapters, are resource partners of the U.S. Small Business Administration. Some WBDCs will help women prepare a loan package. For example, the WBDC in Chicago does loan packaging from $1,000 to $1.2 million dollars.
To improve your odds of getting a loan, check out some of SCORE’s general guides on loans and financing:
Does being a women offer special hurdles in getting financing? Please share your thoughts and experiences in a comment.