This type of network is ideal for tapping in to creative ideas and providing fresh perspectives.
Creative industry freelancers rely heavily on professional networks to source work opportunities and keep an ear to the ground on what’s happening. In this article, Business Networking specialist Darryl Howes shows you the basic steps to creating a LinkedIn profile and how to get started on building connections and making contacts.
7 Tips to LinkedIn Success
LinkedIn is the world’s largest business social media site. Membership of the site is growing fast and currently numbers over 350m people worldwide.
It’s an invaluable tool for those working in the creative industries given that networking is vital for personal brand development and for gaining the inside track on freelance job opportunities.
The international breadth of LinkedIn also adds another dimension for those with plans to work overseas – it’s a great way to build contacts before you travel.
So, what’s the best way to ensure you survive and thrive in the world of LinkedIn?
1. LinkedIn is not Facebook 2.0.
This doesn’t mean you can’t be social, tell people about yourself and use humour, but you are expected to present yourself politely and professionally. Never be provoked into an on-line argument and think twice before posting comments. Use the in-built functionality to post questions on Group pages (see below), join in discussions and publish your own value-add articles.
In place of job titles, choose words that promote what you do and are search engine friendly.
2. You must upload a good quality photo.
A LinkedIn profile without a photo has been likened to going to a party with a bag over your head! The image should be the standard head and shoulders ‘head shot’, professionally lit, with no colour clashes between clothing and background and, unlike a passport photo, you should smile! A fun way to get feedback on your photo is to use a crowd sourcing tool such as Photofeeler.
Don’t forget that you can enhance this section further by uploading media such as podcasts, SlideShare presentations, articles and videos. Make the decision to hire you an easy one!
3. Customise your headline
This is the wording immediately under you name (using the Edit Profile function). You have up to 120 characters including stops, commas and spaces – make ‘em count! In place of job titles, choose words that promote what you do and are search engine friendly. To help with this, take a look at peer profiles and use tools such as Google Keyword or Wordstream.
4. Write a good Summary
Get your Don Draper head on, gather together your best writing chops and creatively craft your LinkedIn Summary Section. Here you need to tell people who you are, what you do and why they should choose you over others. So yes, it’s all the stuff around the types of problem you solve (can you save both time and money?) and your USP. Don’t forget that you can enhance this section further by uploading media such as podcasts, SlideShare presentations, articles and videos. Make the decision to hire you an easy one! While we’re at it, make sure your contact details are displayed prominently within this section – if someone likes the cut of your jib, you want them to be able to establish contact quickly and easily.
5. Add your Experience
Now scroll down the page. Populate the Experience Section with at least three of your last job/freelance roles. Concentrate on telling the story of how you were able to add value. A really good tip is to sprinkle in some numbers, percentages, results, etc. e.g. ‘During my tenure, project turnaround improved by 20% generating a saving of £x’. But don’t be tempted to exaggerate, stick to the truth.
Use the Search Function to find groups that appeal to you, join and then look at group member listings. Identify like-minded professionals and invite them to connect.
6. Build Connections
Expand your network of connections using the LinkedIn import function. This will identify your existing address book contacts that have active LinkedIn profiles and allow you to issue a personalised invitation to connect. The fledgling science of Networking Theory suggests that broad networks of ‘weak tie’ connections – those beyond your normal social circle – promote integration of diverse communities. This type of network is ideal for tapping in to creative ideas and providing fresh perspectives. For weak ties to work at their best, aim for a minimum of 300 connections.
7. Join Groups
Finally, join LinkedIn groups. Groups are the gateway to full engagement with LinkedIn. Raise your profile and get noticed! Use the Search Function to find groups that appeal to you, join and then look at group member listings. Identify like-minded professionals and invite them to connect. Some groups are ‘closed’ which means you have to apply to the Group Moderator for membership. GM’s are busy people who don’t receive payment for the work they do. They will invariably view your profile in order to make a quick decision – another very good reason to have an attractive and compelling LinkedIn presence!
Darryl Howes is a Strategic Business Networking specialist, with a background in commercial value generation and sales relationship management. He speaks, teaches, writes and consults on people networking challenges in business. See ddnsconsulting.com, find Darryl on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.