LinkedIn: Keep It Updated
LinkedIn is a professional social media Website, and it offers wonderful opportunities for networking. Think of it as a Web-based resume—like a resume, you can and should refresh your page from time to time to reflect your current skills and experience. The beauty of this site is that people don’t have to ask you for a resume, it is readily available to them with the click of a button. Be sure you include as much current information as you can—you never know who will be checking you out. Set yourself a periodic reminder on your cell phone or computer to review your information so that it stays fresh.
This Website is especially helpful for corporate social networking. LinkedIn is perfect for freelancers, as it helps to get the word out about your services in a forum where people can easily connect with you. Make sure that you are updating your status regularly, as this can get you noticed. Try to keep updates relevant to what you are working on, and think about the fact that it will be broadcast to potential employers. Updating daily would be ideal, but make sure you put something up at least once a week so that your page doesn’t become too static.
Fan Pages And Blogs On Facebook
Using social media to your advantage cannot be done without Facebook. Facebook is one of the top social networking sites today, so it makes sense to take advantage of all of its features. One thing you can take advantage of if you have your own business is to set up a “fan page” to help raise your profile. Fan pages are easy to set up, and they can attract people that you may not otherwise be reaching out to. Try to make sure that you include specific information about your company so that your skills get the attention they deserve. If you use a tagline, be sure to add it, and use photos if you are able to as well.
You can also link a blog to your Facebook account by using Networked Blogs. This is a great way to raise your blog’s visibility and get more people to visit. Use Google Analytics or Sitemeter to keep track of the hits you get from your Facebook page and see how many people are coming to your site from this type of networking. You can even add your RSS feed to the blog so that it updates on the page automatically. In essence, this means that it is doing all the work for you, which is really a nice feature. You can also invite all of your friends to join your blog page.
Twitter: Leading And Following
Twitter is a great tool for extending your reach and networking capacity on the Web. Learning all the nuances of this Website can take a bit of time, but it is well worth your while to investigate some of the ways you can ease your own workload. Many people use Twitter to lead traffic to their Website or blog, and there is a place on your profile for that information— but you don’t have to rely on this alone. Use a service such as Twitterfeed to Tweet your blog posts to the site automatically. Not only does this save you time, but it helps increase the hits on your blog.
Also, instead of constantly searching for followers, make sure you include a Twitter “badge” on your Website or blog to allow people to follow you quickly and easily. This makes it simple for people who are already at your Website—this way they do not have to search for you. Twitter has badges that come in all shapes, sizes and looks, so search around to find one that compliments your Website. If you are a designer, you may want to create one of your own to make it really custom.
Setting Up Groups On Ning
Ning is a social media Website that allows you to create your own networks or join ones related to your field. Currently there are 1.6 million networks and 36 million registered users. Ning brings together people who have similar interests. For example, if you are a designer, why not start a design group based around your specialty? You don’t need any specific social networking software to do this with Ning. This site differs from other social media culture in that the groups are centered around a theme. While Ning is better for connecting with others in your field than as a job search site, it can still be very helpful.
It is easy to create your own network on Ning, and there are about 50 different themes that you can choose from to personalize your group. If you know CSS, you can create your own custom design to show off your skills a bit. You can use widgets to further customize the network you design, so it can be a bit of fun to develop a look for your group. Publicize your Ning page by adding a link to it from your blog or Website, or update your Facebook and Twitter status with the link so that people can join.
Why You Need Social Media
Social media is exploding right now, with good reason—it is wonderful for networking. Whether you are a freelancer or work for a large company, having some social media knowledge can help advance you in your career. Facebook and Twitter pages are quickly becoming the new “face” of companies on the Web, and you don’t want to be left behind. Getting started on most social media Websites is simple. Mastering them can be a bit more challenging.
Being up on social media 101 isn’t enough these days if you work in a creative field, but social networking doesn’t have to take up all of your time. Scheduling in “maintenance” during your day to tend to your LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or Ning accounts can help you keep up on the latest features. For example, did you know that LinkedIn allows you to add feed from a WordPress blog to your profile? Or that you can add yourself to Twitter directories to help raise your chances of being found on the Web? Building in social media time should be a part of your marketing plan. After all—it is a free way to get the word out about your skills—isn’t it worth a small investment of time?
Have you heard of “Twibes”? If not, you may want to check the site out. Twibes are designed to help you use Twitter more efficiently. You can search for and join Twibes (groups) that are related to interests you have or organizations you belong to. This Website can be a great networking tool for designers and creatives. Being a member of a Twibe can do everything from help you from improve your social media impact to assisting you in a job search. There are categories that you can search to find the most appropriate group to join.
The other thing you can do with Twibes is start a group of your own. There is no cost to form a Twibe, and setting one up is simple. You’ll need to think of a name–try to pick something where people will understand what the group is without too much trouble if possible. The nice part about using Twibes is that you can communicate with your own group without putting it out on Twitter. Take a minute to check out this Website and see if it is something you can use to your advantage. You can find it at www.twibes.com.
A retweet (or RT) is basically a way for you to share information you have gathered from other sources on Twitter and give them credit along the way. This is a common tool used in this social networking space, and it can help call attention to your profile and get you noticed by more followers. Retweeting isn’t hard to get the hang of, so it pays to learn how to do it. Here’s a quick primer for you:
• Cut and paste the tweet that you want to share into your text box
• Before the post, put the letters RT
• After you put RT, give credit to the original poster by using the @ symbol, plus the user’s name (for example: [email protected]).
That’s all there is to it! Retweeting is a great way to share any helpful information that you come across on Twitter. This makes your tweets more valuable than if they were only marketing information. If you can create a nice mix of posts by both promoting yourself and sharing information, you will be using this Website to your best advantage.
Your Twitter Bio
Your Twitter bio is more important than you may think. Many people decide whether or not to follow someone based on the bio they read. According to HubSpot, those with a great bio can get up to 8 times as many followers.
If you want to put your best foot forward, be sure to word yours carefully. Consider the following before putting the bio together:
• Remember that you only have 160 characters.
• Think about what you want to communicate to those who find you on Twitter.
• Consider various keywords that you can use to get your message across without being “wordy”.
• Think punchy. You don’t have to use complete sentences. Web 2.0 social networking has more flexible rules when it comes to this kind of thing.
• Put the most important information first–people may only get through a bit of what you write before they decide if they want to follow you.
• See what other people in your field are doing. There is nothing wrong with basing your bio off of one that you like.
• Remember that you can change it. If you feel like your bio isn’t doing the job for you, switch it up.
Your Twitter bio is one of the first things people read about you. Make sure yours is communicating what’s most important by taking the time to craft it well.
BackTweets is a great Website that can help you track when someone has posted a link to your Website or blog. Using the search function on Twitter doesn’t work well for this type of thing because shortened URLs are harder to track, but BackTweets can find them for you–and it couldn’t be easier. Simply type the URL into the search box and hit search. The Web- site will provide you with a list of people and posts that include the URL you entered. This is a great way to see who is tweeting (or retweeting) about your business. Check it out here: http://backtweets.com. There is also an advanced search function that will let you look for tweets/retweets within a certain time frame.
Online social networking is more effective if you enable people to use it. BackTweets also has a widget that you can use on a WordPress blog that will show how many tweets you have. It also will allow users to retweet your post without a hassle. This is a terrific marketing tool that can really help raise your profile on Twitter because it does much of the work for the user. If you are interested in putting this in your posts, check this page out: http://www.backtype.com/widgets/tweetcount for instructions on how to
LinkedIn And WordPress
LinkedIn has a feature that is perfect for professionals that have a WordPress blog. Using the “Wordpress Application,” you can add your blog feed to your LinkedIn profile. Once you do this, it automatically updates when you post on your blog. This is a great way to keep people in the loop as
to what you are doing. It is also a timesaver since you don’t have to do it manually once you install it. This is one of several social media services that LinkedIn offers, and you can browse the rest in that area to see if any others might be helpful for you.
To find this feature (and others), go to the “applications” tab on the left-hand side of the page. Locate WordPress and install the application–this only takes a minute. Next, it will take you step-by-step through how to finish adding your blog and then–you are done. Double-check to see that it is installed by clicking on your profile to make sure it is there. This feature helps you use social networking technology to the fullest to promote yourself on the Web. BlogLink is another application that you can use to add a blog to your LinkedIn page.
Social Networking Savvy
It is important to get your social networking information out so that people can link up with you on the Web. Regardless of whether you only have a Facebook account or are involved with many kinds of social networking platforms, you need to connect with other people to make it all a success. How can you go about doing this? Here are some tips to help increase your reach:
• Add your account links to your signature block for all e-mail correspondence. That way people can join you on the Web with the click of a button.
• Make sure you have your social media information on your Website and/or blog. If you make it easy for people to follow you, they are more likely to do so.
• Add social media links to your business card. This mix of traditional and social media marketing works well.
• Take the time to add yourself to directories on Twitter. This means that those in your field will be able to find you more easily.
The idea behind social networking is to get a good number of followers that you can reach out to with information on a regular basis. Take a little time to make sure that you are doing what you can to help facilitate that process. The more people you are reaching, the better your visibility–and the more potential those social networking links impact your bottom line.
Why You Need A Blog
Having a professional Website is good for business–in fact, it is almost mandatory these days. Creating your own blog can be another great way to increase your visibility on the Web and reach out to those who are using search terms in your particular field. Much like meta-tags help a Website get indexed properly, tags allow a blog to be very search-friendly. This
can mean you come up in a search of related content, where your Website may not. Blogs allow you to comment on trends in the field, share some of your wisdom and get the word out about your services. You may also wind up with a regular group of readers. Posts can be on anything from career advice for Web designers to job posts.
Setting up a blog is very easy, and even those without a budget can use one of the free social networking sites such as WordPress.com or Blogger to set up an account. Those who work in Web design or have CSS knowledge will find that they can easily customize their blog to reflect their brand. Even creatives with little to no Web knowledge can use a blogging platform without a lot of time or effort. You can put as much or as little time into the blog as you have–but remember that regular updates help you build readership–even if they are only once a week.
Job Hunting On Twitter
The traditional methods of looking for work don’t always cut it these days. Instead of sending out countless resumes and hoping someone will call you, why not use Twitter to connect with recruiters in your field. You can find freelance design jobs this way–or even wind up getting hired full time. The best way to use this approach is to already have it in place. While you already have a job, search for recruiters on Twitter and begin to develop relationships with them. Let the recruiters see what you are up to by tweeting your status periodically, and if you find some helpful information you think they could use–pass it along.
If you have taken the time to do this and later find yourself in the job hunting realm, you just may find that someone will be waiting to scoop you up. Don’t be afraid to tweet a direct request for work–that is a great way to use Twitter. Just make sure that you don’t overdo it, and keep offering information as well as putting requests out there. You don’t want to start looking like spam–people will start tuning you out. Find recruiters by searching keywords on the Twitter directories; they can be very helpful for locating people in a particular social networking group.
Social Media: Building Your Brand
In order to use social media to its full capacity, you will need to build a brand for yourself or your company. Branding reinforces your message on the Web and can help you prove that you are a polished professional–whether you are looking for art freelance jobs or just trying to cover all the bases by putting together a social media presence. So how do you build a brand? Here are some tips to get you started:
• Strive for consistency in format. Use the same bio picture or logo for Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. If you use your middle initial, make sure all your social media sites have it. Remember that you are creating a package, and that it should be visually cohesive.
• Watch what you say. Remember that everything you say can be seen. Don’t let something slip that will come back to haunt you. Present a professional image at all times.
• Choose colors and a design. This doesn’t have to be super fancy–but you’ll want to stick to a similar color scheme if possible. If you are a designer and can create a custom logo, add it to your social media where you can.
• Make sure all the information is the same. If you describe yourself as a designer on one social networking group, don’t list “writer” on an other. Keep the flow of information the same so that no matter which site someone visits, they get a message that reinforces your brand.
• Create a tagline. Taglines are a punchy way to get to the heart of what you do and they tend to be short. Use them if you can on social media.
Social Media And Privacy
No discussion of social media would be complete without addressing the issue of privacy. As a professional, the best social media strategy is to assume that everyone can see what you do on the Web. Even with privacy settings and the ability to block people, you just never know what may actually be visible to potential employers, co-workers and recruiters. Online social networking has many strengths, but keeping personal information private can be quite a challenge.
Did you know that many employers are now going through Facebook accounts to review potential candidates? Are you aware that you can search for a person’s Website on Twitter and see all the times it has been referred to recently? These things can be a little bit frightening when you think about how easy it is for someone to hear what you are up to on the Web. Even a simple Google search may return posts that you have made on forums or blogs. The best way to approach your online activity is to assume that you need to maintain a professional demeanor on the Web. That way you won’t have to be concerned about what someone will find.
Get Recommended On LinkedIn
In terms of online social networking, LinkedIn is one of the best Websites to use when you are getting ready to do a job search. You can have your graphic design resume on the site, or post an update stating that you are looking for work as a Web designer. By far, one of the best things that LinkedIn offers is the “recommendation request.” You can request recommendations from contacts that you have in your network, and these will then be available for others to review. This can be a big plus, as they basically serve as a testimonial to your skills, ability and work ethic.
In order for the recommendation to be visible, you must approve it. This offers you the ability to pick and choose which will appear, which can help you customize the image you present to others. You can also return the favor and recommend others. Sometimes this will spur them to send a recommendation your way, but no matter what, it presents a good opportunity to network. Schedule a little time into your week to begin building recommendations for yourself on LinkedIn so that if you wind up looking for work, they are already in place for you.
Facebook Networking Tips
Facebook is one of the most popular social media services out there today. Although at first glance it may seem geared only toward personal relationships, you can also use the social networking features for professional networking–just make sure that you think it through first. If you are going to combine business with pleasure, you have to have a plan for doing so. Those who use Facebook for networking should be careful about the personal information that they post on the site, as potential co-workers or clients can see it.
That said, Facebook can be a great tool for keeping in touch with people in the field that you work in. Look up old contacts and see who you can find. Join groups that are related to your industry. Post updates that show people what you are working on. Another thing you can do is slant your profile toward showing off your work skills rather than sharing what movies and quotes you like. There is room for a job history, and adding an abbreviated resume, along with contact information may help you on a job search. There are many ways to make your Facebook account work for you professionally–just be careful not to overdo the personal information if you intend on using it for your career.
Groups On Facebook
Facebook gives users a great networking opportunity–groups. Most of the free social networking sites have these, but on Facebook they are fairly easy to find and use. First of all, think of a keyword that will connect you with people in your field. For example, Web designers may want to type in “designers” to see what the return brings. Once you have entered a term in the search box, simply select “groups” and the site will give you a list of results that you can browse through. Another way to find industry groups is to look on the profile pages of other people in your field and see what groups they belong to.
There are several advantages to joining these groups. One is that you can raise your profile by being a member and you can also post on the group wall. Some groups have active discussion boards which can be a great way to network. Another perk of being involved with groups in your career field is that there are often a good amount of updates. Many times these groups will post current industry news or helpful tips. The best part is that there is no obligation. You can spend time on these pages when you have it, and skip participating when you are busy. This makes joining Facebook groups a win-win situation.
Successful Online Networking Habits
There are many different ways to promote your company or your services, but online social networking software makes it a simple choice to use the Web. There are some easy things you can do on a consistent basis that will keep you involved, and remind people that you are around in case there is work. Here are three things to get in the habit of doing that will make a difference:
• Mobile social networking. Facebook and Twitter can both be easily updated on the road from your cell phone. A quick status update or tweet can keep you in the mix and there are special programs designed to work with your phone. Use that time in the taxi wisely.
• Make new connections. Don’t let your network stagnate. Continue to think of people to add to your LinkedIn account or search for people in your field in a Twitter directory. You never know who might be out there waiting.
• Keep your information up-to-date. Schedule an update into your routine at least once a month–more often if you are a freelancer or your status changes regularly. The last thing you want is for someone to check you out and find your work history is out of date. Make sure you get anything important on your account right away–or tweet it before it is old news.
Facebook, Networking And Privacy
If you have a Facebook account, you will want to be sure that you are protecting your privacy. Part of that picture involves going through the privacy settings and making sure that you only give certain people access to your personal information. The good news is that you can keep your friends and work contacts separate–customizing the privacy settings for each. Most people don’t know about the fact that you can create your own lists, but it is a great tool to employ if you are going to use Facebook for something other than keeping up with friends.
Setting up a social networking group in Facebook is easy. First, go to your “friends” tab and look for the “lists” section on the left. Select friends, and choose “create new list” from the top. Name the list something like “work” or “professional” and then select the people that you want to go into that group. Once you have your work and friends separated, go back into your privacy settings and customize what you do and do not want your professional contacts to see. This list function is a terrific way to help you use Facebook for networking without compromising your privacy.
Communicating On Twitter
If you are using Twitter for business purposes you will need to know how to communicate with people on the Website. Social networking information is available everywhere, but here are a few key things to know about Twitter that will help you use it more effectively from the start:
• Using the DM. DM stands for direct message. Think of this as your inbox or e-mail on Twitter. When you send something this way (or receive it), the content is between you and the person you are communicating with. It is private. A key thing to remember is that you can only send messages to those who are following you.
• Using @username. This is another way to send messages on Twitter, but it is a public one. Simply type the @ symbol and then the person’s user name that you want to message and the information you send will appear on their home page. People can also contact you the same way.
• Using the RT. RT stands for retweet and it is a way to share information with others that you picked up on Twitter. Be sure to type RT and then include the person’s @username that first
posted it before sharing. It’s considered polite.
These are some of the main ways that people communicate on Twitter, and it is a good idea to get comfortable with them. Practice a bit and soon they will become a natural part of your social media strategy.
Your Social Media Development
Social media development is a key marketing concept for any freelance professional, and it is especially important for those in creative fields. People expect designers and other creatives to be at the forefront of what is new and interesting. Because of that, having a solid social media strategy that enforces your brand and highlights your abilities is crucial. The tough part is doing all that without taking away from the time that you need to be actually working on jobs. With a little bit of effort though, it is possible.
Here are three smart tips for making the most of your social media time:
• Have a blog and set up automatic updates to Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. This cuts down on the amount of time you have to spend keeping fresh content on your social media sites.
• Schedule time for social networking. Just like any marketing, creating an online presence takes time and effort. Build it into your schedule and it won’t feel so overwhelming.
• Cross-link social media. Be sure to include a banner for your Twitter page on your Facebook account and add your LinkedIn ad dress to your Website. Look for ways to cross-promote yourself in the social media realm wherever you can.
Is there such a thing as being rude on Twitter? Actually, the answer to that question is yes. If you aren’t careful, you can actually do yourself damage by not being aware of what the Twitter community considers bad behavior. Here are some things to watch out for–and some things to try and include:
• You may want to reconsider if you have set up some type of “auto-reply” to people. Many users see this as cold.
• Don’t try to be too formal. Twitter has a friendly vibe and most people that use it respond better to a bit of personality.
• Don’t just tweet marketing material. Try to be helpful or share interesting information as well.
• If you retweet, give credit to the original source.
• Try to respond when you can to direct messages and other mentions, but you don’t have to feel obligated to answer every one.
• Pass on “iffy” language and remember that tweets remain out there for all to see.
• Don’t tweet constantly. This is a turn off for many people and can get you unfollowed.
• Promote others, not just yourself. This is a great way to create goodwill and get you noticed.
• Be sure to respond to follow requests in a timely manner, and if you can, thank them for the follow.
There are many ways to give yourself a social media education. Knowing the etiquette for sites such as Twitter is a good way to begin navigating the ropes and building a good online presence.
If you are a LinkedIn user, be sure to check out all of the applications that are available for you to use on the site. Social networking features such as “Polls” and “Company Buzz” allow you to harness the power of this Website for your own gain. In order to browse these applications, simply go to the left-hand side of your screen and select “applications”. You will be taken to a page that has a variety of choices, along with a brief explanation of what they are. Here are a few to consider:
• Reading List by Amazon. This application allows you to share the books you are reading with people and also see what others are recommending.
• My Travel. This application lets you share your trip information with others.
• Events. Allows you to see the events that your connections are going to.
• WordPress or BlogLink. This lets you add your blog to your LinkedIn profile.
• Company Buzz. This application lets you keep track of your company’s Twitter activity.
There are other applications you may want to think about adding, such those that give you online workspace and some that help you manage files. Be sure to check them all out to see what works for you.
Managing your Twitter account can be a bit of a challenge–especially if you have only a limited amount of time to devote to social media development. TweetDeck can be a great tool to help you stay on top of what is going on with your online presence, as well as assist you in customizing your Twitter time. Think of it as a “Twitter browser”. TweetDeck allows you to save searches, connect with Facebook friends and organize your friends and followers by column. It works with either Windows or Mac, so no matter what platform you are on, you can use it.
TweetDeck is free, which is nice, because you can try it out to see if you like it before using it exclusively. Many people find that it makes their social networking time more efficient. There is also an iPhone application for this site, making it easy to use on the go as well if you have one. There are a number of useful features this Website offers, so if it sounds interesting, take a peek at http://tweetdeck.com/beta/ and decide for yourself if you think it could be useful in managing your social networking time.