Believe it or not, we’re a quarter of the way through 2012. As you perform your monthly review of your marketing plan, are you on-track with your goals? Are the results what you had expected? If you’re thinking that maybe you missed something, it might be time to give LinkedIn a second thought.
Now you may have thought 4 or 5 years ago that LinkedIn was particularly geared towards corporate workers looking for a new career path or employment, and you would have been right. However, after nearly 9 years in operation (LinkedIn turns 9 on May 5), and more than 150 million members in 200 countries, it’s silently built up a rather strong foothold as a top contender of social networking sites.
But your perception of what it is, or what it isn’t, doesn’t mean it’s a platform to avoid simply because you are self-employed, and or you’re not hiring. Having a myopic view of LinkedIn could be costing you referral business as well as new networks and prospects.
One of the easiest ways to use LinkedIn is to set up and publish your LinkedIn Company page. Claiming your Company page allows you to develop your brand presence in LinkedIn, and it gives you a platform to highlight your products and services. From here, you can post status updates, but better yet – you can also display recommendations from your happy customers!
Do you have a follow-up questionnaire or some type of close of the sale process where you ask your customers for testimonials that you can use on various sites? The newborn shoot you just finished? She’s an insurance agent who happens to have a LinkedIn account. Make sure you’re closing the loop after the sale by getting a short recommendation of your work. In some cases, you might have to summarize comments from the close of sale, write up the recommendation as close to the original as you recall, and send via email asking for permission. Make sure to ask where your client has networks, so that you can connect that way.
Recently, Linked in made it possible for a company page to be “followed”, similar to subscribing to public posts of someone on Facebook, or “liking” a brand page. You might want to add the LinkedIn follow button to your website and blog:
Find your vendors, and follow them. Follow the LinkedIn pages of other local businesses in your area, with the hopes that they may follow you back, and in doing so help to create a local network. Encourage others to follow your Company page by posting information, content, updates, etc. about you, your business and what’s going on in your industry. Maybe posts of recent shoots, or a press release about a recent nomination or award you received.
Let me ask you something… if a potential client wants to schedule a shoot on a particular week which you’ve scheduled vacation – do you turn them away empty-handed? Or do you refer them to a colleague or peer professional shooter to fill in for you while you’re out? Before you turn up your nose at that idea, think about the pluses of having a peer you can turn to for back-up service, or possibly equipment or even shoot assistance. LinkedIn is a great place to find other professionals located near you for instances such as those; there are as of February, 1.1 million groups, and at least 1,900 of them are Professional photography groups.
Perhaps you’re ready for a blog re-do, or a total website makeover. Being self-employed, you may have limited resources for asking some pertinent industry-related questions or critiques. Where do you go? Aside from using H&H’s great WordPress for Photographers program, why not take those questions to the LinkedIn groups you belong to? Considering of course you are careful about what you feel comfortable disclosing regarding your business and or pricing, but you’ll find plenty of focused, driven, professional photographers that are successful and appreciate the dedication and sincerity of other professionals.
If you find yourself in need of temporary help, where would you look? Utilizing the search functions within LinkedIn can help you identify service providers and vendors in your area, region or neighborhood. This can be a huge timesaver, especially if you’re the type that wants to know referrals in advance (remember the recommendations on LinkedIn?). Using this tool can help you identify the right source(s).
So maybe you wrote LinkedIn off a few years ago, that’s okay. But I’m suggesting that now is the time to give this network a second look, and a serious one at that. It might surprise you and become one of your favorite networks for peer resources, referral business and maintaining and organizing your professional contacts.