What Is LinkedIn?
If this is how you view LinkedIn, maybe you should think again! LinkedIn is often underutilized by creatives, but it can be a great place to find jobs and to help new clients find you. Marketing mentor Ilise Benun has put together some great tips for taking full advantage of this networking site in her article “How to Really Use LinkedIn.” You can find an excerpt from the article below, or you can find the complete article in the 2014 Photographer’s Market and Artist’s & Graphic Designer’s Market. You can also find the article on Artist’s Market Online.
Keep creating and good luck!
How to Really Use LinkedIn: Learn How to Maximize This Social Networking Tool’s Potential, by Ilise Benun
You’ve probably joined LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com), meaning that you threw a profile up a while back. But are you using LinkedIn effectively (or at all) to find and reach out to your best prospects?
I thought so.
LinkedIn is my favorite—and the largest—online social network for business because it’s made up of real people with accurate profiles, and because it’s all about business—the perfect place to announce the new project you finished or your latest blog post or thought leadership piece.
Most important, no matter who your prospects are, you’re almost sure to find them among the more than 135 million people who have also posted their profiles on what is essentially an international database of professionals. But there are a few things you need to do before you begin to use LinkedIn to find new clients.
Part 1: Your Profile
First, you need to make sure your profile is current and complete. Here are the most important profile elements for creative professionals:
1. Your headline. That’s the short line of text right under your name. Unless someone is on your actual profile page, this is all they’ll see, so make it descriptive, clear and, if possible, compelling.
2. Your summary. This is the second most important element of your profile because it may be the first (and perhaps only) part of your actual profile that your potential contact will read. Find it directly below your basic profile information.
3. Your recommendations. Recommendations about you or your work—also called endorsements or testimonials—are important because what other people say about you is often taken more seriously than what you say about yourself. Moreover, people perceive a recommendation on LinkedIn as even more credible than one posted on your own website because the recommender must post it; you can’t post it for them.
4. Your work. Perhaps you’ve noticed that the typical LinkedIn profile resembles a résumé—it’s almost all text. Recently, however, LinkedIn partnered with Behance.com, an online platform for creative professionals, to create an app that allows visitors to see examples of your work without leaving your profile (see details in the Online Resources sidebar at the end of this article). Install this app on your profile and use it to show a range of capabilities that support the expertise highlighted in your summary.
Part 2: Your Network
Once your profile is ready, the fun begins. Don’t wait for people to link to you. LinkedIn is most effective when you actually use it to find and reach out to your best prospects by building and cultivating relationships, which is what marketing is all about anyway. Focus on these two areas:
1. Your connections. This is your personal network, which should always be growing. Add at least five connections to your network each day. You can add people you know and people you don’t know as well.
2. Your groups. This is where the real action is on LinkedIn. The goal is to find the LinkedIn groups where your prospects hang out so you can get to know them and vice versa. This can pay off in spades. One freelancer wrote: “Quite a few of my LinkedIn group members have gotten in touch with me to discuss projects. Even though we didn’t know each other personally (yet), the fact that we were in the same group meant we shared connections and common interests. I had known their names from seeing their comments and contributions, and they had known mine for the same reason.”
There’s a lot more you can do with LinkedIn, such as adding your blog and Twitter feeds, a reading list, even events you’re attending. Carve out 30 to 60 minutes every day to do online networking, research and outreach to your prospects. That’s how connections are made.
Ilise Benun, founder of Marketing Mentor and co-producer of the Creative Freelancer Conference (www.creativefreelancerconference.com), works with creative professionals who are serious about building a healthy business. Follow Benun on Twitter (@MMToolbox) or sign up for her Quick Tips at www.marketing-mentortips.com.
Excerpted from the March 2012 issue of HOW magazine. Used with the kind permission of HOW magazine, a publication of F+W Media, Inc. Visit www.howdesign.com to subscribe.