LinkedIn should be a part of every professional artist’s online presence and if you are not yet on LinkedIn, you should be! Here is an overview of the social networking site and how an artist can benefit from using LinkedIn.
First, let us discuss what LinkedIn is and what it isn't. I am sure that when one hears the phrase “social media”, a person then thinks “what do I need with another social media website?” Though LinkedIn is considered “social media” it is not another social media site like Facebook, Twitter or Google+. Think of LinkedIn as an ongoing professional network event. You are there as a participant in order to meet, get to know and hopefully at some point, develop a professional relationship with other people. The thing that I appreciate about LinkedIn is that you will connect with people who you would not be able to meet and establish a relationship with under normal business circumstances, but now, through this unique social media platform, you are now able to make this connection.
LinkedIn is not a site where you share with everyone the general “I had salmon for dinner” or for “I am reading my book at Starbucks right now”. LinkedIn is a professional networking site and it should be kept separate from all personal business. I can personally say that I have met and made contact with other professionals in the art business that I just would not have made in any other fashion. It is an extremely useful tool to use in order to meet new professional contacts and if done correctly, ultimately to get new business.
Overall, the object of LinkedIn is to create and build a professional network of people, contacts, and influencers within your industry. Therefore, it does not make sense just to build a network of anyone, but rather to create a group of people who have a similar interest in what you do, as hopefully, these connections will be able to learn from you, as you will be able to do the same with them.
When you set up your LinkedIn profile, think of it as a visual online advertisement of you as a person and as a professional. Make it good, accurate and interesting, as a lot of people within your industry will see it (there is no restriction on how or who cannot see it). This means that all spelling, punctuation and sentence structure should be correct.
I suggest that you visit other people’s profile pages and in order to see how they have gone about and created their profile pages. When you do this, you will see some profiles that are good, some that are horrible (in that they hardly provide any information about themselves) and some that were started and never completed. There is a negative subliminal message that is given with the incomplete and poorly done profile pages. Make sure that you make your LinkedIn profile page perfect. The LinkedIn platform now allows integration with other social media, blogs, RSS feeds, document sites (Slide Share) and outside portfolios sites. Therefore, there is no reason not to have an interesting profile page for people to discover about you.
LinkedIn allows you to begin creating your profile by downloading your email contacts in order to see which of your contacts are already on the LinkedIn site. This is a logical place in which to begin building your professional network, as you already know these people or have done business with them in the past. Once you are initially connected, you are then able to be introduced to their contacts as well. LinkedIn provides to its members with the information on how and to the degree by which someone is connected to another.
After these connections are made, explore industry related Groups. Join these Groups, see what people are posting and contributing within the Group. Anything that is posted and interesting to you, jump in the conversation, comment and contribute. It is a great way to meet and to follow/connect with other like-minded individuals. The other important aspect about being in a Group is that once you are in a Group, you are then able to say that you are connected with all of the Group’s members and because of this connection, it is an accepted way in which to invite someone into your network (as you are not a stranger to this person due to this Group relationship) and you have something in common with the other person.
A LinkedIn member can post to a wall that encompasses a stream of posts from all of your connections. Therefore, when someone on LinkedIn posts, the post should not be of a personal nature and the post should be interesting and/or helpful to your connections. Always be upbeat and anything of a negative or controversial nature should never be posted.
I also want to mention the Recommendation feature contained LinkedIn. Recommendations add value to your LinkedIn Profile. Recommendations provide a third party endorsement of you as an individual and as a professional. Someone who is contemplating asking you for a connection will be much more inclined to connect with you due to your profile containing recommendations. Also, give recommendations to others that you are able to provide them to, as “turnabout” is fair play. Try to get as many recommendations as you can and if the recommendation is “so-so” you have the ability to decide whether to post that recommendation or not.
There are many other features contained in the LinkedIn site that enhances your ability to connect and increase your sphere of influence. Overall, if used properly, LinkedIn can be extremely helpful to an artist’s career and I strongly suggest that an artist create a free account and begin networking along with other industry professionals to extend their network, influence and most of all, their professional career. Here is a link to our LinkedIn Profile Page.