Personal Branding for Startup CEOs Part 10: Leveraging a Blog to Build a Following

Nestor Villalobos

  • If you want to look professional, build a following and have a strong online presence that investors are attracted to, then I highly recommend creating a blog.
  • By telling the story of your entrepreneurial journey, you can get other people excited about your business. Keep in mind, once you build a following, marketing to the individuals that follow you is completely
  • Furthermore, blogging can help you keep a growing list of thoughts and memories together in one place. This can be enormously helpful when reflecting on your own entrepreneurial path. This is therapeutic in ways since it’s a break from the frenzy. This will give you an opportunity to re-frame and gain some perspective.
  • Blogging can also be an excellent tool in making people aware of any issues or challenges you are facing that they potentially might be able to help you out with.
  • Blogging is a great way to give back to the community. If you have experienced a difficult situation and have figured out ways around them, sharing this knowledge with the community helps everyone else around you. For example, well known investor/blogger Brad Feld writes a lot about depression which hits home with many entrepreneurs. You can read more about it here:
  • Finally – some bloggers with great followers are able to get sponsors and actually make money from the blog. However, to get to this stage, you really have to build a lot of content and have a fairly large following. My opinion is that monetization really shouldn’t be the goal of your blog.
  • These days, publishing content on a blog is very easy. If you already know how to use a word processor like Microsoft Word or Apple Pages then you can absolutely learn how to build and run a blog.
  • Furthermore, search engines really like new content and will feature them pretty high on their search results. If you post regularly, these search engines will continue to post content you create.
  • Finally – there are a number of famous CEOs which have blogged while they were working on their (now famous) businesses. Reid Hoffman (the founder of LinkedIn) has been an avid blogger since back in the day. Evan Williams (founder of Twitter) is also no stranger to blogging.
  • Creating a Blog:
    • The easiest way to create a blog is to visit and follow the onscreen instructions to “Create a Blog”. Furthermore, there are a ton of other websites that will easily teach you to design and craft a great looking blog. Spend your time and have fun with this.
    • You can also build a blog on a personal URL domain that you own. GoDaddy has a really great and easy tools for building it yourself which I highly recommend trying out. Simply go to Goddaddy click on “Websites”. Then, under “Do It Yourself” click on “WordPress”. I suggest starting off with a “BASIC” plan and upgrading later if you find you need the extra features.
  • Topics to Blog About:
    • Your Product – Here is where you can feature any existing or new products on your blog. This is free marketing for your business.
    • Your Clients – Providing plugs for your customers is a great way to build relationships with them. Who doesn’t like to be written about?
    • Industry Information – Here is where you can show your expertise in the industry. By writing about it, you become a quasi-expert/authority on the subject.
    • Running a Business – This is where you can give back to the community. By writing about the everyday issues you encounter, aspiring entrepreneurs can learn from your experiences.
  • Do’s
    • When creating blog posts, make sure that before you upload pictures, you tag them with your name. This way they will show up on the search engine “image” databases when someone searches for your name.
    • If you run out of topics to blog about, ask your followers/employees/partners or fellow entrepreneurs.
    • Consider blogging at least 3-4 times per week. This will ensure there is always fresh content on your site and keep people interested in what you have to say.
  • Do Not:
    • Forget to blog at least once or twice per week. WordPress actually allows you to stage the release of posts so there is no excuse for writing a number of posts in one sitting and having them released ever few days.

Personal Branding for Startup CEOs Part 9: Public Speaking


Speaking at a public event about a topic you know gives you instant street cred within your industry. Unfortunately for many people, this presents a big problem. According to a recent Washington Post article, American’s biggest fear is speaking in public. If you are part of that statistic, I have some bad news for you. To be an entrepreneur, speaking in public is going to need to be a skill that you need to master. Especially if you are ever have hopes of pitching to a large room full of Angels or VCs to raise capital.

I can typically tell when someone is uncomfortable when speaking to an audience – they tend to rush through their lines, fidget with their hands, stay unmovable behind the podium, read text directly from slides, and avoid eye contact with the audience. You better believe that Angels and VCs will absolutely be able to pick up on these kind of behaviors and lose confidence in any entrepreneur displaying these traits.

The best way to hone your public speaking skills is to practice. As such, I highly recommend joining an organization like Toastmasters. They are a national group with over 300,000 members that encourages members to give speeches, get feedback and lead teams which ultimately helps provide you the experience need to master public speaking. You can also practice speaking at home. One if the best ways is to record yourself using your webcam or smartphone. When done, play back the video. Watching yourself speak is kind of surreal but it really helps to hone your skills.

Landing a Speaking Gig

  • Once you have developed some basic speaking skills by practicing alone and in groups, I suggest that you begin speaking (for free) at relevant industry events, local chambers of commerce and industry associations.What you need to do is network with the event coordinators and ask them if you can present a relevant topic during their event.
  • When you do land a speaking gig, make sure bring along a friend that will post pictures or video of you speaking to social media. You have to create your own marketing buzz and this is really the best way to do so. Make sure you leverage Twitter and Instagram as these posts will likely be picked up by search engines further helping to drive up the search results for your name.

Speaking Tips:

  • I highly recommend telling a story during your presentation. This is sometimes one of the best ways to engage an audience in your pitch.
  • It is expected that you memorize what you are going to say. One of the worst presentations I ever saw was where an entrepreneur had his back to the audience and was literally reading word-for-word what was on the screen.
  • Practice to where you have the whole presentation memorized. You will need a few days to do this. You need to nail down flow, slide transitions, timing, clarity of concepts and the story.
  • Make sure to project your voice so that those in the back rows can hear it clearly.
  • Use your hands to emphasize important points during the presentation.
  • Remember to breathe. SLOWWW down your pitch when you get to complicated details. This will help with comprehension. When you are telling a story, you can speed it up a bit. Just keep in mind that most people are nervous are nervous about presenting and tend to blaze through the entire presentation quickly. This is a mistake. Take your time on the points that matter and modify your pace as needed.
  • When presenting, make sure to make eye contact with the audience members – focus on one person for a point, then move on to another person when making another point. This will allow you to connect with your audience at a deeper level.
  • When something goes wrong with your presentation, don’t stop and acknowledge it. Simply continue on. Recognizing an issue with the audience and apologizing for it will derail your presentation.
  • I don’t recommend giving a handout to the audience. This will keep their eyes off of you and on a piece of paper in front of them. You should be the focus of their attention at all times.
  • Do NOT use a monotone voice! Make sure to vary your pitch and pace to keep the audience interested at all times. Your pitch should exude passion. It is literally contagious!
  • I would advise you against standing behind the podium as it creates a physical barrier between you and the audience. Walk around the room when pitching. If the microphone is on the pedestal, see if you can remove it and walk around the room. Just make sure you aren’t pacing back and forth as that could prove to be a distraction. Believe it or not, doing so cuts investor fatigue. This keeps them engaged.
  • If you are using a microphone, keep it close to your mouth at all times. Some people inexperienced with microphones tend it hold it at stomach level which makes the presentation extremely difficult to hear for the audience.
  • Follow the rules for the KISS principle – Keep it Simple, Stupid. What I mean by this is to keep your language and graphics simple – don’t distract your audience with fancy graphics or vocabulary. In many cases, I have presented to foreigners where English wasn’t their first language. What I learned was that many times my jokes or fancy vocabulary went right over their heads. Don’t let that happen to you.
  • Don’t use filler words including ‘ums’, ‘ahs’, ‘likes’ or ‘you know’s during the pitch.
  • Finally, if anything goes wrong during your presentation – the computer freezes, the power goes out or the presenter remote doesn’t work, don’t try to fix it right then and there. You will waste valuable time. Set everything aside and complete your presentation without those tools.
  • Try to get the audience to laugh at least once. However, don’t make it a comedy routine.

When Speaking with a Slide Deck

  • Pictures are far more memorable than words. Think about how Steve Jobs pitched his products vs. Bill Gates. Take a look at their slide decks behind them. Just by looking at these images which presentation do you think is more effective?


  • If you use a slide deck, keep in mind that you don’t have to repeat word-for-word exactly what you have on the slide. In fact, it’s a lot better if you don’t. It’s also fine to have content on your slides that you don’t mention in your pitch and vice-versa.
  • The slides presented should be mostly visual. Use pictures to tell the story you are taking the audience through. As such, you absolutely want to minimize the amount of clutter you have on the slides. In today’s day in age, less is more. Try not to use more than 5 bullets per slide and no more than 5 words per bullet. Keep in mind, these do not have to be grammatically correct fully structured sentences. Single words are OK!
  • When choosing a font and color for the text on screen, make sure that you use a color that stands out from the background of the slide. Imagine you are looking at the screen from 50+ feet away. Will it be legible to those people in the back of the audience? Also make sure to keep your choice of fonts, line spacing and colors consistent. There should be one common graphical ‘theme’ throughout the entire presentation.
  • I would highly recommend that you buy the images you use from a stock photography website as they will be of very high quality which will make your presentation stand out.
  • Put too much information/text on the screen at one time. 5 bullet points maximum with 5 words each.
  • Don’t use live videos or demos. These hardly ever work during actual presentations due to the incompatibilities of operating systems, as well as presentation hardware. Typically they only serve as a distraction. Avoid this at ALL costs.
  • Don’t ever turn your back to the audience to look at your slide deck. You should just be able to glance at it and know where you are in your pitch.
  • Try not to use any fancy slide transitions, animations or sound effects in your presentation. These just serve as a distraction. Plus, if you built your presentation on one operating system and the presenting OS is different these transitions could “break” your presentation.
  • This might seem trivial but make sure that your presentation deck is less than 5mb. If your file size is any larger it is going to prove difficult to send over email.
  • Once you are done drafting your document, you may want to consider saving it as a PDF. This way, you’re formatting stays consistent across all devices.

Before Your Presentation

  • Arrive at least 20 to 30 minutes early. This will give you a chance to test the presentation equipment, connect to Wi-Fi and work out any last minute kinks.
  • Bring your own wireless presenter device (with extra batteries). You may also prefer to use your own if they allow it. A number of times I have seen speakers fumble with an unknown presenter device and have it devastate their presentation flow.
  • Absolutely take your laptop (and it’s charger) with you. Do this just in case the computer that is being used to show your presentation falters, you will be able to save the day. This actually happened to one of the companies I mentored. When we arrived at his pitch event, the laptop computer being used to control the projector died. Our team simply swapped it out with their own laptop and was able to save the day for all the other presenting companies.
  • If you are using a MAC they typically have funky connectors on them requiring you to have adapters in order to connect them to projectors and monitors. Make sure you keep feeding the Apple machine buy bringing those (expensive) dongles with you.
  • I would also suggest taking a USB flash drive that contains the presentation. You never know if the file you sent over email gets corrupted or the computer they are using crashes as I mentioned previously. Basically, always have a plan B AND C hardware when presenting!
  • Turn OFF your phone! Even though I once put my phone on mute and had it in my jacket pocket, the buzzing has disrupted my flow of thought and it absolutely messing me up a few times. Before you pitch, turn your phone completely off or use airplane mode.
  • Finally, if you are using your own laptop connected to the projector, close down the email, skype, and any other applications that might provide you with a pop-up or notification during your pitch. The last thing you want is your mother to call you on Skype while you are pitching to a group of investors.

Additional Resources:

  • I recently read a great book by Oren Klaff called Pitch Anything. It truly was a great book and I believe has helped me with my pitching abilities.
  • If you have the time, I highly recommend you check out Steve Job’s iPhone Introduction from 2007. He does a masterful job with his slide deck that has now become the standard by which most presentations are judged.

Personal Branding for Startup CEOs Part 8: Dressing for Investors

  • Investors don’t just look at your executive summary, business plan and projections when considering working with you, they look at YOU. As such, you must accept the fact that how you look and how you carry yourself is very important.
  • I am not claiming that you should show up in meetings in a three piece suit with one of those fancy handkerchiefs in your breast pocket. I personally hate ties. The trick is that you should never truly be uncomfortable with what you are wearing as people will pick up on it. Now, this does not mean you should show up in shorts and flip-flops either. You have to balance a fine line.
  • Here is the key: when in doubt, overdress.
  • Generally speaking, you need to match your attire for the meeting environment. Do you think Mark Zuckerberg only wears t-shirts and hoodies to business meetings? Think again, here is a picture of him in South Korea where wearing a full suit and tie which, in that country, is the way to dress in order to conduct business.


  • Dress for the occasion. If you have a meeting with an angel or VC at a Wall Street office, then you should absolutely consider wearing a suit or a business-blouse. If you are meeting someone for coffee at a local shop, then a suit would probably be overkill.
  • Also keep in mind that, at least in the United States, the west coast startup entrepreneurs dress very differently than their east coast brethren. Investors on the west coast (especially those in Silicon Valley) are totally fine with a founder wearing a T-Shirt and jeans for a meeting. Just make sure that that T-Shirt has your company logo.
  • The previously mentioned dress code, doesn’t really fly much on the east coast. In New York, Boston and even Miami, entrepreneurs typically can’t get away with T-Shirts. My recommendation is for women to wear a semi-formal blouse. Men should consider wearing a dress shirt with jeans and maybe even a dinner jacket or sports coat.
  • In fact, you really can’t go wrong by wearing a sports coat. Even when wearing jeans and a t-shirt, a sports coat can instantly “level-up” your attire.
  • If worn, the jacket should be well-fitting meaning that it should conform to your body when buttoned. Also, don’t wear shorts with your blazer unless you are meeting with an investor on a yacht!
  • For women, consider wearing clothes that don’t show off too much of your skin as that can be distracting. Also, avoid using too much makeup. In this case, less is definitely more. Finally, try to avoid using large pieces of jewelry as those too can be distracting.
  • Whenever possible, use custom fit articles of clothing that work well for your body type. You never want to look like you are swimming in your clothes or they are too small for your frame.
  • Don’t overdo fragrances, either. Try to use mild fragrances or none at all. Chances are you are going to be sitting close to the investor, so try not to go overboard it in this department as it can be very off putting.
  • Make sure to hide any tattoos and avoid wearing non-traditional piercings. You need to convince the investor that you can act professional in any business setting.

Personal Branding for Startup CEOs Part 7: The Business Card

Note: Much of what I learned about business cards comes from my sister and personal branding expert Michelle Villalobos. If you would like to learn more about this topic as well as others related to branding. I highly recommend reaching out to her HERE

  • Creating unique and different business cards is one of my favorite things to do. You will find that 99% of people have pretty much the same rectangular card with just slight variations in paper type, font and information. What they don’t realize is that by spending a little bit more money and brain power, they can create something incredibly unique that will help them get noticed.
  • Your job as an entrepreneur is to capture the hearts and minds of investors, partners, clients and even employees. Having a great business card can help you accomplish this.
  • The first step to creating a great business card is to watch the below 2-minute video on YouTube called Your business card is CRAP!

  • Let me clarify something – you should NOT spend $4 a business card. However, the essential point of his rant is that your business card should be a reflection of YOU and your business. If your card looks just like everyone else’s, then you have lost an incredible opportunity to get noticed.
  • First, let’s start with differentiating both the size and shape of your card. Consider getting a vastly different size or shape. My latest set of cards are small and round and even without reading the information on the card, most people are already “oohhhhing” and “awwwwing” all over it.
  • I am of the camp that including your addresses on the card is no longer necessary. If someone is going to visit your office or send you something in the mail, they are likely going to call or email you first. Furthermore, startups tend to move around a bit and you shouldn’t need to re-print all your cards every time you want to do so. Furthermore, addresses just takes up a lot of vital space on the card that could otherwise be put to better use.
  • Consider putting a picture on your business card. The reason is that in business networking events, people will rarely, if ever, remember your name. Most people are much better with faces. As such, adding a photo of you will ensure you are remembered long after the event.
  • Your card should also have some sort of “Call to Action”. Meaning you need to give the person receiving your card a reason to reach out to you. You can do this by explaining the results you or your business generate for your clients. This way, they clearly know what it is you do and if they should be interested. You can also give something away for free – like a 30 minute “consulting” session. This encourages engagement which is also a great call to action.
  • If you are having a hard time coming up with unique/different card ideas, then there is a great article on com by DJ Andrea entitled “These Unique Business Card Ideas Will Make You Stand Out From Others”. I highly recommend you check it out for some inspiration.
  • Finally, if cost is a concern, then I would suggest creating two sets of business cards– one for conventional folk that aren’t as expensive and another set for those people you want to leave a lasting impression with. Those cards you can and should give out sparingly.
  • In my previous career, I used to travel extensively to the Far East. Over there, they have a tradition with regards to the ritual of exchanging business cards. When accepting other people’s cards or when handing out their own, they do so by clasping the card with the thumb and forefingers of both hands. This tradition was a sign of great respect for the person you were meeting. I recommend that you try employing this method. When you receive someone’s card, hold it in both your hands as if you were just given a prized possession. Throughout the conversation, look at it, and then back at the person who gave it to you. This simple act will help you win over anyone you meet – including angel investors.


  • On a side note, one of my old business card was actually “seeded” meaning that if you planted it and poured water over, over time it would actually grow wildflowers. This was a neat way of showing how ‘green’ we were. A ton of people asked me where I got them made so here is the link: PrintGlobe. They cost under $0.70 each and you can get an even better discount by ordering higher volumes.
  • My last comment regarding business cards is to buy and use a nice business card holder. Nothing exudes professionalism more than someone whom takes care of both his own card and others that he/she receives by storing them in a holder that will prevent the cards from becoming damaged or creased. Amazon has some great looking ones for just a few bucks.

Personal Branding for Startup CEOs Part 6: Peacocking for Business

  • In this post, I am going to explain how to leverage the art of “Peacocking” to leave a lasting impression with potential clients, partners and investors at events.
  • This is where personal branding gets really fun. I originally came across the concept of Peacocking when I read The Game by Neil Strauss back in my mid-20s. In the book, Neil chronicles his journey from being an average guy without much game to becoming a Pick up Artist. The book basically coined the term “Peacocking” to mean the act of wearing attention-getting accessories or clothes to draw attention from females.
  • Now, I am not going to ask you to go out and try to attract investor interest by wearing your mother’s boa or your sister’s pink cowboy hat. Just hear me out. You see, when applying the theory to a business setting, think of leveraging “Peacocking” by using an accessory or article of clothing that actually reinforces the image of someone whom is well groomed, experienced, and classy.
  • For example, if you were to find pictures of me in the press, you will find one common element. In practically all of them, I am wearing one of my many different types of suspenders. This is obviously not by accident. I actually love wearing suspenders and find them significantly more comfortable than wearing a belt. However, the added benefit of wearing them is that practically no one else does. As such, it is likely one of the biggest reasons why many angels remember me at events and conferences.
  • You see, at those events, most other entrepreneurs wear some variation of a blue, black or grey suit. I stick out like a sore thumb when I am seen wearing a dress shirt with suspenders. This really helps to get me noticed and remain memorable even long after meeting people.
  • Suspenders aren’t the only way to get noticed. Here is another example – one of my friends (and the author of Social Media Sucks!) is Sebastian Rusk whom masterfully uses Bow Ties as his signature look. Go ahead and Google his name (making sure you click on image results) and you will see what I am talking about. He has absolutely mastered the art of peacocking to help him drive awareness to his personal brand and business.
  • Think about other signature looks that artists employ. Recognize this guy?


  • How about this woman?


  • Before you take up smoking or start wearing orange hair and meat-made dresses, consider other, more appropriate uses of Peacocking for business. Think of the late Steve Jobs’s signature look. His always wore a similar attire when appearing in public. Jeans, black shirt and eyeglass.


  • Consider Sir Richard Branson’s signature long and sometimes disheveled hair.


  • Other items “Peacocking” items that you could potentially employ in your wardrobe include the use of memorable eyeglasses, vests, watches, accent colors, hats, or even funky ties, belts, shoes or socks.
  • The trick is that the item should set you apart from everyone else in the room. This makes you kind of a ‘wildcard’ or ‘maverick’. Angel investors will be drawn to this image and will want to talk to you since you are the only one in the room that looks different.

Personal Branding for Startup CEOs Part 5: Get the Most out of Your Email Signature

  • Many entrepreneurs ignore one of the best opportunities to engage online with investors, partners and clients….the email signature.
  • Your signature doesn’t just have to be where you provide your basic contact information. Instead, you could it as a marketing tool to provide people with additional ways to connect with you, tell a story and, most importantly, have a “Call to Action”.
  • Aside from your basic email address, position and phone number, of what you may want to include in your signature are:
    • Your company logo
    • A picture of yourself
    • A quote that is relevant to your business.
    • Links to your social media profiles (I recommend no more than two which should be LinkedIn and Twitter).
    • A YouTube link to a 60 second pitch of your company and the product(s) it offers.
    • Any upcoming event that you or your company will be featured in, awards you or your company have received or new products and promotions.
    • Finally and most importantly, a “Call to Action”.
  • Creating a signature takes a lot of work. Even for a designer. As such, I highly recommend using an online service like WiseStamp or Black Pearl. They can easily help you create a unique and memorable signature without you having to know a line of code. Both services cost around $50/year. I consider this a very worth-while expense.
  • One cool feature with these services is that they allow you to pull content from social media sources like your blog, Twitter or LinkedIn just to name a few. This is a neat idea as it keeps your signature ‘fresh’ in delivering new content.
  • Below is a screenshot of my personal email signature. Notice how it copies a link to my latest blog post. Also, the quotes rotate continuously so every email is slightly different. Finally, I have a “Call to Action” which are links to the history of Frederic Tudor which has to do with the business I am currently managing.


  • My friend Austin Allan’s email signature. He is the “Totally Important Officer” of Tio Gazpacho. Notice how he lists his accomplishments which instantly gives him credibility.Nestor_Villalobos_Austin_Sig
  • Finally, sign offs like “Thanks” and “Regards” are fine, however, they won’t get you noticed. Try to think up something a tad bit more creative. For example, with my existing ice business, my sign off is “Cheers” which has an excellent double entendre meaning that is specific to the beverage world in which I play in currently.
  • Here are some links for learning how to set up email signatures with Outlook, Entourage, Gmail and Yahoo.


  • Don’t have your email or phone number written ON images you upload. Sometimes, when emails get forwarded or are forwarded to a smart phone, the image get stripped out. As such, you want to make sure that the most important information remain as text or hyperlinks.
  • Make sure your signature looks good on mobile phones. Use a text size of between 12 and 15 point. Also, make sure you don’t make the whole thing more than 320 pixels wide and 650 pixels high as that will force the user to have to scroll sideways to view your signature.
  • If you have a blog, you should absolutely include the link. However, if the blog hasn’t been updated, then don’t bother. The last thing you want to do is send someone to a link that has old or outdated information.
  • Try to compress information to as little space as possible using special characters including colons “:”, commas “,” and bars “|”.
  • Some countries have laws dictating disclaimers that need to be in your signature. For example, according to the laws in the European Union, companies are required to have their company registration number, address, place of registration and VAT number. Just make sure you are complying with all the laws in your region by checking with your attorney.
  • Make sure that your default signatures are removed from your smart phones. You should never leave the generic “Sent from my iPhone” or “Sent on Android OS” signatures.
  • Make sure to leverage different fonts, font sizes and font colors. You don’t necessarily need to left-justify everything.
  • Test your signature on a variety of platforms and email clients to ensure it is displayed properly.



  • I don’t recommend listing EVERY method to connect with you. That would be overwhelming and may make you look desperate. Just choose the top 2 or 3. If you Tweet a lot, then list Twitter. If you leverage LinkedIn (as you should), then use that link. The more choices you offer, the less chances you get of someone actually choosing to connect with you.
  • Don’t use more than one or two images in your signature. When emails get forwarded, chances are that the images will get stripped out. As such, you need to make sure your signature looks good even without the images.
  • Make sure your actual email address is professional-looking. I.e. does not exude professionalism. You should strive to have If you are unsure how to do this, then you should read my post on Online Branding for Entrepreneurs Part 2: Create a Business URL and Email.
  • Only list one job or company per signature. Even if you do multiple things, you don’t want to overcomplicate this.
  • I would advise you not list more than one email address. Don’t confuse people with how to reach you.
  • Don’t attach your vCard to all of your email messages. Most people don’t use them and you will be adding unnecessary “weight” to the email message size.
  • I don’t necessarily think that you should include your address for the same reason why we won’t include it in your business card. Most people aren’t mailing things these days. If they are going to send you something, they will likely check with you first. If you really think that people receiving emails from you should know where you are based, consider just using a broad city/state identifier.
  • Make sure when using images that they are naturally 100% to scale. If you start with a large image and scale it down, it may make each of your emails very “heavy” in terms of size. If you start with too small an image and scale it up, it might look blurry or distorted.

Personal Branding for Startup CEOs Part 4: Leveraging LinkedIn to Build Credibility and Drive Interest

  • There is no single online social network more powerful for networking and seeking investment from angel investors as LinkedIn ( As an entrepreneur it is absolutely imperative that you build a credible and compelling online profile.
  • If you haven’t created a profile yet, go ahead and do so now. Once you do, the first thing you want to do is upload the professional headshot we covered in the previous blog post “Personal Branding for Startup CEOs Part 3: Create a Killer Headshot“. To do this, click on “Profile” then “Edit Profile”.

How to Create a Custom LinkedIn URL

  • Hover your mouse over where it says “Add a photo” and click there.


  • Now select the photo by clicking “Choose File” and then hit “SAVE”


  • Second, make sure that anyone can connect with you without having to input your email address first. Otherwise, leaving your profile private will severely limit your ability to have angels reach out and connect with YOU. Do this by clicking on your profile picture on the upper right hand corner of the screen, selecting “Manage” next to “Privacy and Settings”.


  • Then click on “Communications” on the left hand side, then “Select who can send you invitations”.


  • Make sure to select “Anyone on LinkedIn (Recommended)” then click on “Save changes”


  • Under “Summary” this is your chance to write an attention-grabbing Hook. This is usually the second thing an investor will read after checking out your profile picture. Here is where you will encourage him or her to continue to review the rest of your profile. Don’t use anything too personal or kitschy. I suggest starting with a high-level summary of your accomplishments, your educational background as well as your existing company and what makes it so amazing.
  • The next thing an investor will want to see is details relating to your existing company. As such, make sure that this work experience is listed immediately after “Summary” on your profile. You can change the order that these items appear in by clicking on the arrow icon on the upper right hand corner of the “Experience” box and dragging the box immediately below “Summary”.


  • After you list your existing endeavor, you should start listing others in the order that you have had them with your most recent jobs near the top and the oldest near the bottom. Be careful what you list, if you waited tables in college at your local bar, you should probably not list that job. If you had a summer internship at a well-recognized company doing more than just serving coffee, you should absolutely list that. Furthermore, if you spent less than 6 months at an organization, I would consider not posting it unless it was a consulting job….investors might question why you spent such little time in one position and think you fickle.
  • One interesting feature is that LinkedIn allows you to upload content under each of your “Work Experience” entries. This could be a website link, an image, a video, or even a presentation. I highly recommend taking advantage of this opportunity to make your resume more visual. Add a link, presentation or a photo of what you worked on. In my case, I have uploaded images of our product which really makes the profile more impactful. First start by clicking on the square icon with a plus sign on the upper right hand corner of the “Experience” section.


  • Next, you have a few options – you can copy or paste a URL (like a website, slide deck or video) OR you can upload a file.


  • After you have completed adding all of your Experience and related graphics/links, make sure your education is properly listed. Mention any relevant majors or courses you took that are in line with the business you are creating. I would also mention any relevant skills you developed while studying.
  • Next, make sure to add any languages you speak or relevant clubs you are a member of or any honors or awards you have achieved. You need to BRAG about your accomplishments! Investors want to see entrepreneurs that have a history of achievements as they (rightly) believe that a history of previous achievements are a pretty good indicators of future success.
  • You can also list patents which, if you have any, is a really good idea as it helps build your credibility.


  • Give and get recommendations – once you have had the chance to connect with some of your former managers and colleagues and even existing partners, ask them to write a recommendation for you. The most important recommendation is for the business you are currently trying to raise money for. This provides 3rd party validation of your skills. Also, once you get a recommendation, I would suggest returning the favor – its good form.


  • To request a recommendation, make sure you are in “Edit Profile” mode and scroll down to “Recommendations”. On the upper right hand corner, click on “Ask to be recommended”.


  • Next, fill out the position you want to be recommended for, whom you want to ask, what your relationship is with the person, what his/her position was at the time and a short message to go along with your request. I highly recommend that you customize this section to write a personal note to ensure people follow up with this request. Then, click on “Send”.
  • I would recommend joining (and participating in) a few angel investor groups as well as this will help you network with investors and fellow entrepreneurs. To do this, click on “Interests” then “Groups”.


  • Next, click on “Find a group” and search for “Angel”.


  • You should get a list which includes the following groups: “Angel Investor Group”, “Angel Investment Network” and “Global Investment Network”. Click on “Join” for each of these as these are the largest groups of this class on LinkedIn and can really help you network with investors.


  • One really cool feature that LinkedIn has is that they allow you to create a custom URL to make accessing your profile easier. Many people aren’t aware of this feature and don’t take advantage of it. I highly recommend that you do so as it will only help with your search engine rankings. Plus, it makes you profile look a lot more professional. Check out what I am talking about below:


  • Next go underneath your profile picture where there is a URL where a small gear should appear. Click on that.

How to Create a Custom LinkedIn URL

  • On the top right hand corner of the screen you should see a section titled “Your public profile URL”. Click on the pencil icon to the right of the URL.


  • Type in something VERY simple and easy to remember. Keep in mind that it must be between 5 and 30 characters. Do not use spaces, symbols or special characters. Also remember that it is case insensitive so it doesn’t matter if you use capital letters. In my case, I simply used “nestorv”. Click on “SAVE” when done.

How to Create a Custom LinkedIn URL

  • You now have a custom LinkedIn URL. LinkedIn will allow you to change your URL up to 5 times every 180 days. I don’t recommend ever changing your URL as it will make it harder for people to find you and might mess with your search engine results. Set this once and forget about it.

Personal Branding for Startup CEOs Part 3: Create a Killer Headshot

Note: Much of what I learned about headshots comes from my sister and personal branding expert Michelle Villalobos. If you would like to learn more about this topic or schedule a HEADSHOT WORKSOP with her, I highly recommend reaching out to her HERE

  • A profile picture is typically the first thing an investor will see when he/she searches for you online. As such, the first step to building an effective investor-worthy online profile is to have professionally made headshots that exude competence.
  • Under no circumstances should you use a “selfie”, or a pictures where you are with friends or family no matter how cute your kids are.
  • You should absolutely have a photographer take these pictures. In some cases you can often find someone to do this for as little as $100. However, for something of great quality, I recommend paying at least double that. Just make sure that the photographer has the ability to retouch the photos you decide to use to make them pop. Most importantly, be different! Your photo should not look like every other headshot out there. Investors love placing bets on mavericks so this is your time to be different.
  • The below are headshots done by photographer Tabatha Mudra in Miami.

Nestor VillalobosNestor_Villalobos_Tabatha4

  • Below are some additional headshots by Todd van Fleet out of Colorado whom I found on the internet.

Nestor_Villalobos_Todd_Van Fleet3Nestor_Villalobos_Todd_Van Fleet1

  • Notice how different they all are? Having a headshot like this will help you get positive attention which is exactly what you want.
  • Consider the use of (relevant) props. If you have a physical product, hold it up to the camera in your picture! If you have a software company, then consider having a picture taken where you are in front of your company’s logo.
  • Try employing different poses. You may even want to consider an action shot that shows an animated version of yourself. This kind of shot absolutely captures the attention of people looking you up.
  • The last big tip is that when saving your headshot on your computer, make sure the file name of your picture contains your name. Doing this will make sure one of the search engines will pick it up. Use the underscore character for spaces (don’t just leave blank spaces as it doesn’t sit well with search engines).
  • Also, make sure you TAG your name and your company name in the file attributes. These tags will be picked up by search engines like Google and Bing and will cause them to show up during searches for you and your company.
    • To tag a picture in Microsoft Windows, right click on the file name, click on “Properties” then select the “Details” tab on the top window and type in each of the names next to the “Tags” section separated by a colon .
    • To tag a picture with an Apple computer, control-click then select “Tags” and type in each keyword name using a colon as a separator.