Last week I mentioned on Twitter that I thought designers and crafters should be on LinkedIn. Almost everyone seemed to disagree with me. The overwhelming question was, “Why?” Why be on LinkedIn if you’re not looking for a job? Why have a LinkedIn profile if you’ve already got a website and a blog?
I knew I wanted to explain why, but I also knew I needed some help to do it right. I reached out to my friend, Meighan O’Toole, to see what she had to say about LinkedIn for creatives.
Meighan is a digital strategist who helps artists and makers find and develop their voice online. In her spare time she hosts What’s Your Story, an interview-style podcast dedicated to the professional and personal journeys of artists. She lives and works in Boston, MA, and comes over to my house sometimes to hang out and talk business with me.
Here’s Meighan on LinkedIn for the self-employed:
As a designer or craft industry professional I recommend having a LinkedIn profile and keeping it up to date, even if you’re not looking for a job. I’ve found that LinkedIn isn’t only about a job search. It’s about having a professional presence online with all of your experience in a single place, in a standard format that’s easily accessible for those interested in learning more about your work experience.
LinkedIn allows people to find you and connect with you on a professional level that Facebook, Twitter, or even a blog just isn’t built to do. A LinkedIn profile is a resume with areas not only for education and work history, but for side projects, volunteer work, blog posts, awards, professional organizations and more. Not to mention there’s a place for recommendations from friends, customers, and colleagues as well. Even if you’re not formally trained in what you’re doing now, it’s beneficial to show what sort of training or work experience you have that led to your current role.
It’s also worth saying, because LinkedIn is billed as a professional site there is a different feel and vibe on the site. There are no personal family pictures, no griping or snarkiness, no curated images of that beautiful coffee. It’s strictly a professional networking site — and people keep it professional. Keeping with that vein, LinkedIn is no longer just for the 9-5 professional set. Individuals from all industries are represented there.
Abby and I spoke with a few self-employed designers to ask how they use LinkedIn. Designer Anne Weil explained she keeps an updated LinkedIn profile “so I am able to reach out to connect with other bloggers and brands about collaborations and partnerships. It’s not about the resume per se, but about having a presence from the business side. It, along with the other profiles you have, create the full picture. You can be approached easily and professionally by whomever is interested and through whatever method they choose.”
Independent toy and product designer and CreativeLIVE instructor, Lauren Venell, sees another benefit as well. “I mostly use it for research–to see who can introduce me to someone I’d like to contact, or to see who else is interested in what I’m doing. I don’t have a premium account, so I can’t see exactly who’s viewing my profile, but this past month it included two journalists, two publishers, two designers and one person from the arts and crafts industry–all of which is useful info I can’t get from my web site analytics.”
When I mention LinkedIn to creatives they often say, “Ugh, who needs another social network?!” Fair point. Being on every single social media site takes away precious time you could devote to your work. The thing with LinkedIn is that you can keep your profile updated and rarely have to spend time there otherwise. I check in on mine every few weeks for notifications (I have turned off all emails from LinkedIn due to the ungodly amount they send – learn how to do that here), add important clips or freelance jobs and I always ask my clients to leave me a recommendation, but otherwise I don’t spend a lot of time there.
Having a LinkedIn profile just gives a presentation of what I offer professionally, and a way for people to get a holistic idea about who I am, verify what kind of experience I have, and learn about what services I can provide. It’s presented in a format that’s familiar and consistent from profile to profile making it easy to access and take in. That’s it!
LinkedIn is just a larger piece of the puzzle of who you are online. It gives people a very specific idea of you as a professional — whatever your specific work is. I personally believe if you’re running a business online it behooves you to have an up-to-date profile. It only takes a few minutes to set up and you never know when opportunity will knock, or how a connection can be made. Having a profile on LinkedIn ensures you catch those connections, it’s that simple.
Connect with Meighan on LinkedIn here.
And check out my LinkedIn profile here.
How are you feeling about LinkedIn? How are you using it now (if at all)? Do you think it might be worthwhile to set up a profile?