There is no doubt the importance of a well put together social media profile for professionals in today’s world. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Google+ are some of the more popular social media platforms anyone with an internet connection can create. They are also the most thought about in terms of presence. But what about LinkedIn? I remember when LinkedIn first came out. I didn’t think anything of it but set up a profile anyways. Today, LinkedIn has over 477 million profiles ranging from individuals, businesses, and groups. It is the number one professional networking platform existing today. If the number of users isn’t impressive enough, the number of profile views for the first quarter of 2016 was 45 billion!
WHY SHOULD AN ACTOR CONSIDER USING LINKEDIN?
Why not? Seriously, in all actuality, what harm is there to spend the time to set up your professional profile? Outside my rhetorical question, let’s look at the practicality of what LinkedIn really is. Your LinkedIn profile serves as a digital resume. The features of LinkedIn help you organize your professional career and helps keep track of all the projects, experiences, volunteer work and education you get involved with. LinkedIn helps others who may be interested in working with you to get a quick snapshot of who you are – your focus, your character, and your expertise.
Being an actor, you are in one of the most competitive industry. Anyone who has been in the entertainment industry for any length of time knows it is about networking. It is about who you know and the projects you’ve been a part of. Sure, posting videos on YouTube helps, having a Facebook Fan Page helps, and possibly even your own web page. Social Media profiles like Twitter, Snap Chat, Instagram, and others help to engage with your audience and fans along with increasing your marketability. But what about your professional image? Fan’s are great, however, you are in “show business”. The most important part of that term is “BUSINESS”. If you are not developing your professional and business side, it doesn’t really matter what fans you have because fans won’t have anything to admire if you are not getting work!
HOW CAN YOU UTILIZE LINKEDIN?
The best aspects of LinkedIn is the ability to showcase projects, write articles, get endorsed by peers, and receive recommendations from those you have worked with. Casting Directors, Producers, and filmmakers are always in ready supply of talent. Same with Agents and Managers. Like it or not, you must show them, why you are worth their time. You may be able to act or sing, hit your marks or deliver on a dime. But, you are not the only one. More importantly, if you can’t show up to work on time, cause problems or have an attitude, it doesn’t matter how much talent you possess, your personality will overshadow all of that. We all want to work with professionals. They want to know who YOU are. This is where LinkedIn can serve you the most.
EXPERIENCE SECTION – The best part about this section is the ability to highlight the experience you have. Are you with an Agent or a Management Company? What work have you done in the past that relates to the Industry or otherwise? What did you do? How did you do it? What did you learn? What skills did you acquire? This information is great to know for someone looking to work with you.
PROJECT SECTION – Like a resume attached to the back of a Headshot, projects can be showcased on LinkedIn under the experience it coordinates with. For example, you work with ABC Talent Agency. While there, you were cast for project 1,2,3. You worked with XYZ actor/director/casting director. You have the ability to describe the character you played and other details more fully than what you could do on the back of your resume.
ENDORSEMENTS – We all have skills. Some skills fit directly with our field of work, others outside our field of work. Different experiences and projects cause us to utilize different sets of skills we possess. The Endorsement section showcases your most prominent set of skills. Further, this section allows for friends, peers, and network to endorse those skills. There is nothing more powerful than others who say… yes, he/she has these skills and they are developed to the point I am willing to endorse and recommend them for it.
RECOMMENDATIONS – Imagine working with an Actor such as Leonardo DeCaprio or a Director like Stephen Spielberg and they give you a recommendation because of your work ethic or your performance on set! That kind of endorsement would do wonders for your marketability. People like working with likable people. The best way to show you are such a person is through recommendations. This section highlights who you are beyond your performance. It shines a light on your character, your behavior, and work ethic. My advice is to build up your recommendation as much as possible. It only benefits you in the long run.
VOLUNTEER SECTION – Do you like charities? Are you involved with Non-profits? Why are you involved and what do you do with them? LinkedIn gives you the ability to talk about the charities you work with. Can you imagine what this does to your likeability factor? Can you imagine how this will help you stand out above the rest and the opportunities that can come from this one section alone!
Different social media platforms serve different purposes. Most focus on gaining followers, sharing your thoughts or moments in time. Others are about showcasing your professional experience. LinkedIn has become the platform for showcasing your professional side. The best part about LinkedIn is it continues to grow. You have the ability to link your profile to other website and social media platforms (IMDB, Website, Fan page, etc), you have the ability to take the time to develop a quality digital resume that will be accessible to those interested in working with you while building a track record of endorsements, recommendations, articles, and experiences. Don’t do what I did and wait to develop your profile. Get started today!
TIPS AND TRICKS
Remember, this is about promoting your professional side. To throw up some information in a half-hearted manner just to have it up is not going to work well in the long run. An old saying in the restaurant business is this… “The presentation is everything”; meaning, you may have the best tasting food, but if the presentation is bad, the food isn’t going to taste as good. This is because we eat with our eyes first. This is no different with your resume or your profile. You want it to stand out and you want it to be as professional as possible. So here are some tips to help you out.
1.PHOTO – If you don’t have a photo, you don’t have a profile. As an Actor, getting a professional photo (headshot) is part of the business. Especially if you are a junior talent, each time you update your Headshot, you need to get in the habit of updating your photo on LinkedIn with the new Headshot.
2. BACKGROUND IMAGE – The new layout for LinkedIn allows for a background image. Use this feature! It adds a unique touch to your profile and allows you to express yourself. Just be sure to keep it professional.
3. ARTICLES – LinkedIn allows you the ability to write articles. This is a great way to express yourself and your experience. Writing updates when you get off a project talking about your experiences can help tremendously. Writing about things that matter to you will also help others to learn more about you and the types of projects that will really help you shine. Plus, every time you post an article, your connections automatically get a notification. This builds up your presence in your industry.
NOTE: Be sure not to post restricted or Non-Disclosure information about any project you are working on… If you have any doubts, contact your agent, manager, or legal professional first. It is better to be safe than sorry.
4. ENDORSE OTHERS – Help your fellow actors out! They are struggling just as much as you are. If you work with someone who you feel does a great job or has a great character, let others know! Believe me, they will think very highly of you and I can guarantee, they will be just as willing to give you an endorsement and recommendation in return.
5. STAY PROFESSIONAL – Whatever you do, keep professionalism in the forefront of your mind for LinkedIn. This is not about harassing casting directors or filmmakers to be in their next film. This is not about posting what you did over the weekend or talking bad about others. Believe me, social media, in general, is a double-edged sword. You should not be doing this on any of your platforms, however, LinkedIn is the last place you want to do this. You will be Blacklisted quicker than you think!