Jo's Web Wizardry

Jo Atherton

LinkedIn is the world's largest professional network with millions of members and is growing rapidly, but what can it offer artists? How can HVA use this free networking tool? And is it just another online fad?

What is LinkedIn?

Other networking websites we have talked about here, such as Facebook have social activity at their heart. This is fine, but for the artist trying to make professional contacts online (sourcing potential clients, galleries, event organisers, etc), it can often mean wasting time wading through cat photos, updates of what people had for breakfast or yet another Farmville invite before finding useful, relevant posts.

LinkedIn avoids all this by being a professional focused network. Their aim is to ‘connect the world's professionals to make them more productive and successful.’ Joining LinkedIn means you get access to people, jobs, news, updates, and insights that ‘help you be great at what you do.’

Sounds amazing, doesn’t it? As I have said here before, as with other online networks, you get out what you put in so lets look at what LinkedIn can offer the artist and see how HVA can benefit from such a network.

How do you use it?

LinkedIn proudly proclaims that ‘relationships matter – your professional network of trusted contacts gives you an advantage in your career, and is one of your most valuable assets.’

Building on this principle, it’s the perfect platform to present yourself, show your accomplishments and keep in contact with other professionals you know. Trying to do all of this in the same place as all your other online activity can become difficult to manage - you wouldn’t want your impressive artist cv sitting in the same place as photos from that recent hen weekend now would you?!

It soon becomes easy to see why separating this kind of information makes sense.

Examples of the content you can share includes your educational and work history, your interests, skills and expertise, projects you’ve been involved in and any volunteering, just to name a few sections of the online profile options available to you. Think of it as an online CV, published and optimised for your potential clients and contacts to read and recommend.

One of the main advantages of LinkedIn is being able to tap into the knowledge of your network. As artists, never underestimate the value of  joining online communities where we can talk to like minded individuals, share details of opportunities, promote events or simply ask a question if something is troubling you - chances are someone out there can help you.

Is this just another fad?

LinkedIn promises to help you establish your professional profile. They proudly exclaim they are ‘the world's largest professional network with 200 million members in 200 countries and territories around the globe’. Being listed on such an internationally regarded website will mean that you can enjoy featuring high in the search results - great if new contacts find themselves ‘googling’ you.

By maintaining all your professional contacts in one place, this means you can connect with those colleagues and clients you trust. It’s also a great way of being recommended, learn about opportunities and have access to powerful tools to find and reach the people you need.

Establishing your network of contacts is more secure than on other sites, as chances are you have actually met or worked with most of your network at some point.

The appeal of LinkedIn is that you can maintain and polish your online reputation by keeping all of your established contacts, projects and experience in one place, ready to share with relevant contacts. For this reason I don’t believe it is a fad and if used well, can be a very powerful tool.

How will HVA be using it?

LinkedIn will offer a corporate face for Herts Visual Arts, serving as a meeting point for supportive professional development.

We are in the process of establishing an HVA presence on LinkedIn to help us publish member notifications, facilitate art related discussions, plus serve as a discussion platform for shaping Open Studios and HVA events. It could also offer potential for our sub groups (such as the ceramics group, or North Herts members) by providing a free discussion space for planning events and exhibitions.

Next month we will be unpacking these ideas and explaining how HVA plan to use LinkedIn. As members are spread across the county, it’s not always possible to meet face to face and make use of our growing network. We hope to use LinkedIn to co-ordinate report on meetings, and help you stay connected with other HVA members. 

If this is something you think you’ll find beneficial, we are asking that you to create a LinkedIn account and get ready to hear more about our Group which we are excited to be growing with your help.

You can sign up to LinkedIn on their homepage in a few simple steps: http://www.linkedin.com/

by JO ATHERTON

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