I find the use of social media among artists and other creative business people to be all over the board. Some are quite proficient at using Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn as well as other social sites, some have a presence and really don’t know why, some know they need to start and others are not even aware. Social media may not be for everyone but if you have a creative business then you need to take a hard look at these powerful tools.
One of the more interesting social media channels is LinkedIn. According to their website – “Our mission is simple: connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful. When you join LinkedIn, you get access to people, jobs, news, updates, and insights that help you be great at what you do. The key word here is “professionals” – LinkedIn is not for chit chat. It’s a place where you present yourself as a professional, show your accomplishments and network with other professionals.
When I first started on LinkedIn I didn’t really “get it” or realize its full potential. I signed up, filled out the requested information and when I was done I had what looked like an electronic version of my resume – not thrilling reading by any standard. I found contacts from the schools I attended and people from companies where I had worked in my past. I made a few posts and then sat back and waited without any results.. I pretty much forgot LinkedIn and went on to pursue other social media avenues such as Facebook and Twitter.
I then had an opportunity to work with two of the top social media experts in the world Mike O’Neil and Lori Ruff of Integrated Alliances who needed photography for their upcoming book and other promotional materials. I must say when I hear the words “expert”, “guru” or “thought leader”, my inclination is to run the other way. These days there are way too many people running around calling themselves social media experts because they have 100 friends on Facebook or 500 followers on Twitter. Mike O’Neil and Lori Ruff are the real deal – they have been involved with social media long before most people even knew what it was.
After Lori Ruff advised me on how to improve my LinkedIn profile and gave me some great strategies, things started to change. I now find that LinkedIn is one of my most valuable social media resources. It has allowed me to connect with some great people, learn about new things and yes, get new business! Here are a few tips I learned on my journey with using LinkedIn.
Here are a few things I have learned about LinkedIn:
Build a network of your important business connections:
- Contacts from past companies or schools
- Your customers and prospects
- Your suppliers
- Your colleagues or members of groups or associations you belong to
- People in the art and business worlds who you would like to be connected to
Use your network to connect, share, learn and interact
- Keep your profile professional but also interesting, enticing and memorable – not a flat electronic version of your resume.
- As you meet new people ask them if you can connect with them on LinkedIn.
- Advertise you LinkedIn presence on your website, business cards, online profiles and other advertising materials
- When you make posts, talk about things that interesting to your network and don’t forget your recent accomplishments.
- If you are going to link your posts from other sites like Twitter to LinkedIn, be respectful of your network. I am not so sure mowing your lawn or baking cupcakes is appropriate!
- Check out the groups – you will find some great people who share your interests and can help you. There are groups for artists and just about any business topic you can think of. You might want to check out the Arts Marketing Network to get an idea.
- Don’t look at LinkedIn as a venue to shout “Buy my stuff, buy my stuff…”, think of it as an opportunity to build a valuable network and relationships.
- Have fun!
LinkedIn can be an effective tool in your marketing toolbox as well as a great way to engage with professionals all over the world. I encourage you to take a look at LinkedIn to see if it makes sense for you and your art business. Also be sure to check out Lori Ruff and Mike O’Neil at Integrated Alliances – They are the real “Rockstars” of social media! And don’t forget to also check out their book Rock The World With Your Online Presence – this is one of the best resources on making LinkedIn work for you!
I also invite you to connect with me on LinkedIn: Neil McKenzie
Neil McKenzie is the author of The Artist’s Business and Marketing ToolBox – How to Start, Run and Market a Successful Arts or Creative Business available in softcover from Barnes & Noble and Amazon and as an eBook from iTunes, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. He has developed and teaches the course “Artrepreneurship” at the Center for Innovation at Metropolitan State University of Denver, and is also a visiting professor at University College at the University of Denver.
Neil has over 30 years’ experience as a management consultant and marketing executive, working with some of the world’s top brands. Neil is a frequent lecturer to artists and arts organizations, a guest columnist for Colorado Biz Magazine, where he covers the creative sector of the economy, and the author of several articles for Americans for the Arts, a national arts organization. Follow Neil on Twitter: @neilmckenzphoto