LinkedIn is the social network designed for business. It's not as fun as Facebook or as unhinged as Twitter (which is probably a good thing). But if you're serious about growing your business as a freelancer in production, you should have an effective profile there.
And once you've done that, you should even consider publishing useful content that will help you stand out. But let's not get ahead of ourselves.
Start With Your Profile
Steven Lahey, a coaching expert for solo professionals, has some valuable advice for "solopreneurs" looking to add new clients.
"LinkedIn can provide you with a wealth of networking and client acquisition opportunities," he says.
But before you begin reaching out to establish new connections, make sure what you're sending people to look at is presentable: your profile page. Nothing says "professional" to a prospective client like a profile headshot that looks like it was taken in a strip-mall photo booth. (And a lot of the ones we've seen aren't even that good.)
Of course a decent picture is just the start. Lahey, who's sifted through thousands of profiles as a recruiter, recommends setting up your page like an ad for yourself. Be clear about what you do and the kind of people you're looking to work with.
Be specific. Don't try to be everything to everyone. As copywriting guru Donnie Bryant says, "You can't have customers unless you have non-customers."
Lahey says to state in your headline exactly what you do and the kind of clients you work for. Be sure to use the industry keywords that will get you found in searches.
He then recommends treating the summary section like a story instead of just a laundry list. Again, use keywords here and be direct. People will be skimming your profile, looking for substance. You should hook them as early on as possible.
For Lahey's full take on setting up your LinkedIn profile, read his whole article, which he's posted . . . on LinkedIn.
Tips For Production People
Film and video journalist Jourdan Aldredge also has some good LinkedIn tips, and his are specifically for video professionals.
Again, these are pretty straightforward, but you'd be surprised how many production pros aren't doing them.
Here are three we thought were especially pertinent:
1. Show your work
People are hiring you because of the quality of your past work. Show it early and often in your profile. LinkedIn will let you embed video and post other type of portfolio documents.
2. Highlight your experience
Maybe this one should have gone first. Producers and agencies know that if they hire someone who doesn't have experience that's very similar to the project they're going to be producing, they're taking a risk. So ease their minds and be sure to describe right away what you've done and the kind of expertise you can offer them.
3. Get (and give) references
If I don't know you personally, but somebody I trust can vouch for you, I can feel confident about hiring you. The dictionary calls that a referral. But LinkedIn uses Endorsements (where others check a box about your skills) and Recommendations (where others write a little blurb about you). You need both to make your profile convincing. So be generous about giving them to over people in the business who you've worked with and don't be shy about asking for them in return.
You can read Aldredge's whole article here (and it's NOT on LinkedIn).
Having skills, talent, and creativity will only get you so far in the production business. If you want to succeed, you really have to make connections, and LinkedIn is set up to help you do just that.
So first, get your profile in shape. Then build your network.
And remember, LinkedIn not is the place to post pictures of your drunken self rolling off a dock in an inflatable sumo suit. Those should go on Instagram.