Should artists use LinkedIn?
A few months ago, I began the slippery slope of cleaning up my unused LinkedIn profile and adding a touch of professionalism + personality. As an actor, writer and theatre maker, the importance of using social media has been drilled into my brain and so for many years I've been active on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. These platforms are the usual ones when it comes to promoting creative work (or anything for that matter). But one that I had never considered looking at... good old LinkedIn.
What comes to mind when you see the LI logo? I can tell you what comes to my mind: suits, ties, blazers, sales, office buildings, status shmatus... And I suppose I'm not the only one. LinkedIn is described as the "professional platform", meaning work-related, and many artists are either not confident enough to call their art professional, or are too confident in the fact that their art cannot and will never be deemed as corporate. Then you have people like me who, just never matched what I did with the platform. But that changed when I started working as a recruiter.
For those who don't know, many (if not most) recruiters spend about 90% of their time on LinkedIn. It is where they find potential candidates for the roles they are trying to fill. Because of this job, I had to start using the platform on a regular basis, meaning I learned the ins-and-outs of it. Never in a million years did I think this would benefit my other writing or acting network, but it did. Here are the ways that LinkedIn helped me in promoting myself as an artist (and might help you too):
1. Profile - visual advertisement
This profile is essentially your brand: who are you presenting and why should people care? Unlike other social media platforms, LinkedIn gives you the opportunity to present an extensive page which shows your skills, experiences, blogs, links, etc. You can have your entire artistic resume on the platform, and millions (if not billions) of people go through these pages on a regular basis. This proves to be very helpful, especially when you don't yet have a well-known brand. I basically like to compare it to a Facebook page for artists who still need to develop a following. There is definitely a more personable aspect to connecting with someone on LinkedIn versus liking their FB page. And this brings me to...
2. Network - connecting with others
You hear it every - the best work is network - and this is a proven fact. You can follow as many artists as you like, attempt to befriend them, retweet their tweets... But, from what I have found, the best platform for connecting with industry professionals is LinkedIn. First you start out by growing your network (you can do so by connecting with those you know or people who are in the same industry) and the more you grow your network, the more people you are able to connect with. You'd even be surprised by how many people reply to LinkedIn messages (more than I thought). And this leads to...
3. Messages & Posts - making (genuine) noise
This takes some time, but once the LinkedIn profile has been set up and is ready to go, you'll find that there is A LOT of information. So many posts, blogs, pages... and this can be overwhelming. But I find that it's not about trying to be the biggest, loudest or extraordinary voice. It's more about being genuine and truly wanting to connect with people. I know that "being genuine" and "social media" might sound like an oxymoron, and in some way I agree. Though here are a few things that might help with this: wishing people a happy birthday, congratulating achievements, sharing content that is valuable to you and your brand (without being inconsiderate controversial, of course). These small things can make world of difference. And all of this does not take much time and do not require you to spend hours of your day on this platform.
4. Groups - keeping up
There are countless groups on LinkedIn that you can become a part of. Find groups that are within your interests and industry. I would start out by researching the ones that you would like to be a part of instead of eagerly joining all of them. Quality over quantity! It is better to become part of a group with members that you can connect with, rather than being in loads without getting to know anyone. There is an unspoken rule that you are there to network - not sell your product. Be an active member and make sure to engage in conversations, help solve problems, etc. At some point people will start to remember your name and even want to network with you.
I am very aware that artists hate words like networking or promoting your brand. But these are crucial if you want to grow your presence as an artist (if you don't want to do that, that's also cool and thanks for getting this far in the article). Therefore, I have found LinkedIn to be a great, free (!) tool to grow my network and present my brand without too much fuss.