Study: Top VCs Prefer Networking On LinkedIn
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Study: Top VCs Prefer Networking On LinkedIn

For startups looking to pique the interest of top VCs, LinkedIn might be a more effective channel than Twitter.

Aarti Shah

For startups looking to pique the interest of top VCs, LinkedIn might be a more effective channel than Twitter, according to a new survey by the Zeno Group.   
The research looked at the social media habits of the 2013 Forbes Midas List that profiles the top 100 venture capitalists. Ninety-five percent of the Forbes list have a “well-engaged” presence on LinkedIn, but only 64 percent are on Twitter.
Zeno also tracked “hyper-connected” Twitter users – or those followed by 10 or more of the Forbes List – and discovered fellow VCs made up slightly more than one-third of this group. Another 29 percent are entrepreneurs, CEOs and tech executives, while portfolio companies are generally not followed. About 20 percent were media, including Kara Swisher of All Things D and Sarah Lacy of PandoDaily, among a small pool of women (9 percent) on the “most followed” list.   

Unsurprisingly, VCs tend to follow top-tier media outlets and -- in addition to those listed above -- The Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg, Fortune Term Sheet’s Dan Primack and Fortune’s Adam Lashinsky made the list. Nearly 50 percent of the Forbes Midas list follows The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and TechCrunch.

“Probably 90% of the time we hear from startups that have an objective to position themselves for the next round of funding” placing a premium on understanding the media that influence the VCs, says Todd Irwin, MD of Zeno’s tech practice. 
While the survey didn’t look into blogs, they’ve become a popular channel for VCs to establish thought-leadership. For instance, most of the leadership at Andreessen Horowitz blog, as well as Union Square Ventures’ Fred Wilson and Y Combinator’s Paul Graham, among others. Most VC firms have also hired senior communications advisors to raise the profile of their fund.  

This is, in part, because of the tight competition among VCs vying for a handful of the most promising startups. According to a recent Businessweek article citing Cambridge Associates, VCs returned on average 7.4 percent over the past decade -- less than every US stock index.

“You have the mid-tier VCs fighting for differentiation -- it’s a well-documented challenge,” Irwin said. “The question is, how do you put yourself in a position to get the right people coming to you.”

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