Jo's Web Wizardry

Jo Atherton

Following on from May’s article describing the professional benefits of joining LinkedIn, this month we consider how Herts Visual Arts could use the site to increase engagement between members, as well as develop a wider audience and increased public profile.

Presently, we offer members-only benefits via the HVA website, where I’m sure you’re aware, members are encouraged to maintain their own profiles and enjoy a wide range of news and opportunities by logging in.

The traditional platform of a website allows us to provide members with information, and members too the chance to upload gallery images. Great, but we are missing the functionality to encourage interaction between members, allowing a dialogue to take place, something people are coming to expect given the spread of social media.

As I have discussed in this monthly column, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and other social media networks all have the potential to add value to our Hertfordshire connections and offer the perfect means for members to interact with one another, share news and opportunities. 

Via Facebook we have encouraged members to share news, such as exhibitions and workshops. We are keen to hear what our members are working on and hope to facilitate informal conversations. Facebook offers HVA members that more relaxed, social space to chat, and we find this especially useful when sharing details of Open Studios.

The HVA Twitter account has given us the means to quickly engage with members and local organisations, sharing member news succinctly amongst our followers, developing new contacts and keeping up to date with trends amongst the creative community.

So where does this leave HVA and LinkedIn?

We would like to encourage members to consider joining LinkedIn. It could potentially serve as our professional home, serving as a space for conversations directed towards professional development, planning events, seeking and receiving advice – all of those important issues which can get diluted in the more social realm of Facebook.

We want to provide a supportive environment for artists at all stages of their careers, offering a place for HVA members to have important and useful conversations. Given the spread of artists across out county, for those who already feel comfortable taking part in online discussions, this could really make a difference to those networking connections we pride ourselves on as an arts organisation.

By embracing these free opportunities available to all we hope to strengthen our existing relationships with and between members.

How do we expect to use LinkedIn?

As our potential professional home, we would hope to use LinkedIn to discuss the following:

  • Events can be announced and discussed – either in the planning stages or post event to gauge feedback
  • We look forward to seeding professional development conversations
  • We hope those members seeking advice on a given subject, technique or contact could do so within a professional space, supported by fellow HVA members
  • We would encourage a virtual home for groups within HVA, either by region or media to share ideas, plan events or offer mutual support
  • It is not difficult to see how an HVA LinkedIn group could be exceptionally useful during the run up to Open Studios, with many artists experiencing the same planning and organisational issues.

So for starters, those are our thoughts on how an HVA presence on LinkedIn could considerably improve communication between members. It also offers the chance for so much more - an appropriate space for networking, professional development and to encourage HVA members to take more of a role in shaping their organisation by feeding into planning discussions and facilitating events.

That some members may be reticent towards using LinkedIn and the Internet as a whole is not a valid reason for avoiding using it. If we ignore this opportunity to represent ourselves on what is fast being considered the worldwide home for professional information, we miss out many of the conversations already taking place between creative organisations and artists and risk being left behind.

Special thanks to Hillary Taylor for the background work and research into setting up our LinkedIn Group and representing HVA online.