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Today, LinkedIn has over 200 million members, and that number is growing daily. But how can photographers take advantage of this network to engage potential clients who are also using the service everyday? To help you out, we’ve compiled 6 ways you can make the most of LinkedIn, including features to help grow your photography business and even land more gigs.
1. Get endorsed
Endorsements on LinkedIn are similar to letters of recommendation from former employers, with a twist: everyone can see it. Endorsements yield higher visibility than recommendations, because not only will it appear on your profile to all of your connections, but also on the profiles of those who endorsed you (where their connections can see).
The other important aspect about endorsements is the capacity to enhance your credibility. No one wants to hire a photographer who doesn’t know what they’re doing, and having a former client endorse you shows that you’re skilled in your field and your clients are satisfied.
2. Join relevant groups
Another way to take advantage of LinkedIn is to join relevant groups. And when joining groups, be sure to think outside the box and join groups that are more business centered. For example, the group Business of Brides may be a good resource for wedding photographers to connect with potential clients.
In groups just like that, you can link up with people in need of your services, answer questions and offer your services to people who may not necessarily be in your circle. Note that many of these groups you’ll need to request to join first.
Other photography business groups worth joining on LinkedIn are:
3. Make Connections
While this seems rather obvious, it’s crucial to make connections on LinkedIn by asking people to join your network. Increased connections means increased visibility in the circles to your connection’s connections, and the increased chance you’ll come up in their searches.
We recommend that when you receive a business card at an event from a marketing manager or photo editor, for example, you should be diligent and look them up on LinkedIn shortly after you meet. Your request for connection will refresh your new contact’s memory and show that you are interested in working with them in the future.
4. Showcase Your Photography
Potential clients will want evidence of your skill set before hiring you, which is why it’s important to include examples of your work in your profile. For instance, PhotoShelter user Andrew Strain showcases his outdoor and adventure photography niche by his on-brand headshot, plus by sharing exciting images directly on his profile under his “Summary” and “Experience.”
To add your own images, go to ‘Edit your Profile’ and add the media to your Summary, Education and Experience section. Scroll down to the section you’d like the samples to appear and hold your cursor over the “Add Media” icon. Select “Upload File” to have the media display on your profile or click “Add Link” to link potential clients to your online portfolio You can edit the Title and Description of the image as necessary. Try to constrain the image as much as possible, and if you’re worried about sharing, be sure that your work is watermarked appropriately.
5. Research engine
LinkedIn’s research engine is a great source for all users in search of a job. This allows you to find certain companies and follow them in order to keep up-to-date with company happenings and job openings.
A good way to utilize the research engine is to offer your services to a company. Shooting headshots for businesses is also a great way to network. For example, using the Research Engine, you can reach out to businesses and offer to shoot headshots for its employees. As a test, try reaching out to a company’s HR or marketing and communications departments because these divisions are charged with maintaining the business’ brand, image and employees. They will likely be the best resource to contact in the event that a business does need a headshot.
6. Use Pulse
Pulse is a LinkedIn mobile app that lets you stay up to date with news happening in and around the photo industry (among other areas). Pulse allows you to select the industries you’re interested in and follow them to receive news in real-time about companies within the industry, industry news and tips to succeed in that area. All content on Pulse is generated by the influencers of that industry, so you know that the information you’re receiving is accurate.
Keep in mind that while platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are great platforms for promotions, LinkedIn excels in its transparency to help you network and connect professionally. Your LinkedIn profile serves as both an online résumé and a letter of recommendation if you receive endorsements. This aspect is important for photographers in particular. While your work could be popular on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and receive tons of favorites and likes, they don’t have the testimonial or endorsements component that can reinforce your talent and professionalism. After all, selecting a photographer is an important decision for potential clients, and having that positive review on your profile can make or break their decision to hire you.
But remember – you have to actively use LinkedIn and make it part of you daily and weekly workflow in order to find real success. This means keeping your portfolio updated, requesting connections, asking for endorsements shortly after your last job, and engaging in groups and discussions to help get your name out there.
Want help creating a business plan for the rest of 2014? Download our guide The 2014 Photo Business Plan Workbook.