I find the use of social media / networking (I prefer networking over media – more on that later) among artists and other creative business people to be all over the board. Some are quite proficient at using Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, 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 at these powerful tools.
One of the more interesting social media channels is LinkedIn. According to their website “Relationships Matter – Your professional network of trusted contacts gives you an advantage in your career, and is one of your most valuable assets..”. The key word here is “professional” – LinkedIn is not for chit chat. Its a place where you present yourself as a professional, show your accomplishments and keep in contact with other professionals who you know.
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 LinkedIn. I say this is a journery as I really don’t know where it will lead. Here are a few things I have learned about LinkedIn:
- Build a network of your important business connections. They could be your:
- Contacts from past companies or schools
- Your customers.
- Your suppliers.
- Your colleagues or members of groups or associations you belong to.
- 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.
- 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.
- As I said in the beginning of this article, I prefer the term social networking over social media. This isn’t a venue to shout “Buy my stuff, buy my stuff…”, its an opportunity to build a valuable network and relationships.
I strongly encourage you 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 the best resource on making LinkedIn work for you!