EXPERT ADVICE: LinkedIn FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS
To bring a new voice, a valuable perspective, and great advice for all photographers to our blog, we have teamed up with the fine folks at Wonderful Machine. Once a month, a blogger from the WM team will be contributing to this expert advice column. For this month’s installment, Dana Ratliff contributed this article on using LinkedIn as a marketing tool.
As a photographer, you may have overlooked LinkedIn as a marketing tool. Maybe because it’s not as visual as some other forms of social media. Maybe it seems too daunting to recall and write out your entire work history. Maybe it’s still a site that you just haven’t taken the time to explore yet. Whatever the reason, here’s some information to change your outlook on one of today’s greatest – and most undervalued – resources for photographers.
ENHANCING YOUR PAGE
LinkedIn is an incredible virtual resume allowing you to emphasize your abilities in great detail. The best part of all–your personality and interests become the icing on the cake! This is your opportunity to stand out from the competition.
Your headline counts. Instead of writing “Photographer” or “Freelance Photographer,” make it specific. Try “Photographer Specializing in Corporate and Architecture Photography.” Quick changes like this can take you from one of many to one that’s above the rest.
Make sure your profile image is of you, not a model you’ve photographed. Keep it professional and in-line with the rest of your branding. Clients want to see who they’re talking to without having to guess.
Customize your URL to make it even easier to include your link on promo materials and emails.
Use your summary to share your background and tell your story. Be personable and speak to the reader – engage them so they’re interested in learning more about you.
Upload your resume or type out your work history. Include relevant links, photos and projects from each job and be sure to thoroughly list what you did in each role. You can also include clients you’ve worked with in this section.
LinkedIn allows you to include images, documents and links throughout your page. You can post a direct link to your website (or specific pages within your site), upload photos, include video, and connect your Behance portfolio to your page to show off full projects.
Add Sections is a recently added feature that gives you the option to showcase even more work by including projects, organizations, publications, etc. you’ve contributed to in the past. For example, use Publications to show off your writing samples, it could prove especially beneficial for reportage photographers and documentary journalists.
Include interests and hobbies, certifications, causes that you’re interested in and volunteer work you’ve done; even if it was years ago, it may work in your favor. Like here for instance, a client’s narrowing down the candidates for a shoot, all of them have the desired skills they’re looking for and they can’t make up their mind. A common interest or passion could change that indecisiveness into a no-brainer and land you the job. Remember, everyone’s more than just a photographer or an art buyer, and showing you’re multifaceted will give you an edge.
Handling your LinkedIn network is much different than other social media outlets. It’s not about adding as many people as you can. It’s about making genuine connections with the people you’ve worked with or would like to work with in the future. LinkedIn is the perfect platform to reach out to creatives at ad agencies, magazines and other businesses to get you on their radar.
Use the advanced search option to search job title and find photo editors, art buyers, art producers and creative directors – these are the people who are most often in charge of hiring photographers.
If you’re a corporate photographer, you can reach out to businesses to offer your services for staff headshots. For larger companies, this could mean over 100 portraits at a time and could easily turn into a recurring gig. If you’re going to try this approach, the most appropriate contacts to make will be within the HR department.
Be sure to add a personal note when you reach out – let the person know that you appreciate their work or hope to build a professional relationship with them. Treat each connection with care, just like you’d treat a potential client if you were to meet them in person. You can see San Francisco-based photographer Vance Jacob’s LinkedIn below:
With each connection you add (these are your 1st connections), your 2nd and 3rd connections will also grow. You can ask someone in your immediate network for an introduction to a 2nd or 3rd connection if you see a connection that has great potential. As your network expands, more people will see you and your searches will yield more results.
Follow companies that interest you. Once you follow a company, you’ll receive updates including job opportunities and other news that it shares on your LinkedIn homepage.
Join groups that align with your interests, profession and goals. There are groups available for professional photographers with Q&A and then other groups that will have the clients you’re looking to target. Try searching a few keywords and see what comes up. For example, when searching photography jobs and choosing Groups, this came up in my search:
RECOMMENDATIONS & ENDORSEMENTS
While Instagram, Facebook and Twitter are incredible for building a following, showcasing your images, and casual interaction; clients may not be able to get a sense of what it will be like to work with you. LinkedIn serves as a recommendation letter. Users can easily endorse the skills and expertise you list on your page, in turn, it’s an easy way to confirm what you can do. Even better, users you’ve worked with in the past can write a recommendation discussing their experience with you. Nothing is more valuable to a client than seeing that you’re professional, experienced and a pleasure to work with.
So, how do you get a recommendation? You can contact up to 3 connections at a time to ask them to recommend you. Try writing a thoughtful recommendation for some connections you had great experiences with. This might inspire them to do the same! Recommendations double as a great way to say thank you and make an impression that will help you stay on someone’s mind. Not only will recommendations show up on your LinkedIn page, they will be visible on the page of the user who wrote it for you – allowing all of their connections to see you shine as well.
To request recommendations: hover over your profile image in the top right corner. Choose Privacy & Settings. From there, click on Helpful Links and then Manage your recommendations. Here you can ask for, give or view existing recommendations.
LinkedIn is full of networking opportunities to help you find the right professionals. And like many other social media sites, you have access to it right at your fingertips through its mobile app making it easy to stay connected and active almost anywhere in the world.
A free account offers all of the great features above and if you decide to upgrade, you’ll gain access to even more connections, have the ability to make more targeted searches and receive more information on who’s viewing your profile. You’ll also be given a number of InMail messages– these allow you to directly contact people even if they aren’t in your network. There are a few different options available and LinkedIn sometimes offers free trials to see if an upgrade is right for you.
LinkedIn is essentially marketing you can do yourself as a photographer and your profile is a representation of your professional self: keep it current, let your personality shine through and dedicate a little time each week to update its content, search for new connections, and send personalized notes.