[Business Insider] Quora for M&A Professionals

http://www.businessinsider.com/quora-for-ma-professionals-2011-7

Quora is a website focused on aggregating and presenting high quality responses from various subject matter experts on an essentially infinite set of questions and topics. It’s like Q&A meets Wikipedia. The website initially received a lot of attention from technologists and venture capitalists, but is increasingly being used by more and more types of professionals and consumers. We recently began seeing some M&A professionals begin to contribute to Quora as well. We see most M&A professionals using Quora to do company research, showcase their expertise on M&A topics, and strengthen personal or company brands.

If Quora continues to become a credible destination for business insights and information, it will increasingly contribute to important business decisions people make. In the world of M&A, these questions could be: who is the most successful private equity firm in the packaging industry? Which corporations do the best job of post-merger integration? Who are the top 5 investment banks in the marketing services industry? If you’re a corporation, investment bank, or private equity firm, it’s going to be increasingly important for you to show up in answers to these questions.

To help get you up to speed on Quora, we’re bringing you tips on how to use Quora, Q&A style.

1. What is Quora?

Quora is a continually improving collection of questions and answers created, edited, and organized by everyone who uses it. The goal is to have each question page become the best possible resource for someone who wants to know about the question.

2. Do M&A professionals use Quora?

Yes. While Quora’s roots are strongly entrenched within the tech community, Quora continues to grow beyond the early adopting tech community. Users now include journalists, entrepreneurs, elected officials, CEOs, business owners, M&A professionals, and more. You can learn more about anyone who posed or answered a question by reviewing their bio and previous questions they’ve asked or answered. You can engage with them in a dialogue through the site as well.

3. Should M&A professionals use Quora?

For M&A professionals, Quora is an avenue where you can establish expertise in a particular topic or industry and access entrepreneurs directly at their time of need. In essence, entrepreneurs visit Quora to ask questions and seek advice, and if you’re following topics related to M&A, that ability to dispense expertise and advice will be centered around M&A. Your presence and availability at the greatest time of need builds credibility and ultimately, deal flow.

4. How can M&A professionals use Quora?

Follow M&A Questions and Topics
Start by searching topics you’re familiar with like, “mergers and acquisitions,” “investment banking,” “selling a company,” etc. By following these questions and topics, they will be displayed on your Quora homepage. You’ll be able to monitor activity and will be emailed with new answers to any questions you follow. If there are particular companies of interest to you, go ahead and follow them as well.

Vote Up Answers You Like
This is a very subtle way of contributing to the community. If you find a good answer to a question, vote it up. This is how Quora pushes the best answers to the top. Your name will also appear next to the up arrow, so it’s a good opportunity to gain additional visibility.

Answer Questions
If you find a great question with a string of answers, ask yourself is, “can I add additional perspective through an additional answer or are the answers provided sufficient to answer the question?” There is no need to agree with existing answers. If you click on the “Answer Open Questions” link on the Quora homepage, you can be the first to answer these. If you like an answer, but feel it needs a few tweaks, you can edit answers as well.

Ask Good Questions
The question can highlight a specific industry where you maintain expertise, types of transactions, or general M&A questions.

5. Can Quora generate leads for M&A firms?

With every social platform, the power is often in the network. Becoming a thought leader and the go-to resource for a topic will provide you with an early advantage. Find members of interest, follow them, and answer their questions.

6. How can M&A professionals establish expertise on Quora?

What better way to demonstrate subject matter expertise than by answering questions in a highly trafficked public forum? Quora is a venue where you can speak directly to entrepreneurs, M&A advisors, and financial and strategic buyers who have a direct question on topics where you are the expert. You may be surprised at the sophistication of the questions and answers.

For example, check out:

You can share questions and answers with your co-workers and clients to spread knowledge. Quora has a lot of great educational content that is easy to share with one click via email, Facebook, or Quora message. If you do not want a question to be visible on a search engine or if you do not want your name to specifically be associated with a question, Quora does provide the option of asking questions anonymously as well.

7. Can M&A professionals use Quora for deal origination?

Not directly, no. Ultimately, M&A professionals, whether you’re an investment banker, a strategic buyer, or a principal investor, want to be in the right place at the time when an entrepreneur is ready to sell his/her company. As part of an entrepreneur’s process before selling the business, they will do research on potential buyers. This kind of research happens in live conversations with trusted advisors, board members, attorneys, and financial planners, but it also increasingly takes place online within platforms such as Quora, AxialMarket, LinkedIn, Capital IQ, Pitchbook, etc. If you’ve already established your company as one of the preferred or most expert buyers in certain industry fields or categories, you are that much more likely to be on the list when a middle market business owner decides to sell.

Below we’ve included some more links to additional questions we thought were relevant:

 

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