If you consider yourself a professional graphic designer, you should already be using LinkedIn to promote yourself. However, your presence there is a complete waste of time if you aren’t using it properly.
LinkedIn can allow you to connect with and receive help, guidance and advice from influential people within the graphic design industry. It is also a fantastic place to scope out some potential new work through a variety of clients. Whereas other social networks are geared towards socialising, LinkedIn is geared towards business networking, making it the number one place to advance your career as a graphic designer.
Below is a quick guide you should follow closely to make sure you are using LinkedIn to its full potential.
Image by Esther Vargas licensed under CC BY – SA 2.0
Create a professional profile
LinkedIn is known as ‘the professional network’ so it’s a good idea to conduct yourself as if you are in a job interview. Once you gain more respect through gaining decent contacts and connecting with the right people, you will gradually become more comfortable in your role and feel that you are slowly becoming the interviewer instead of the interviewee.
Your LinkedIn profile is perhaps the most important social media profile you will create, if you’re looking to advance your graphic design career. Your profile contains formal details about your job history, education, professional memberships, links to your website, and awards and honours you have received in your time as a designer. Remember that other LinkedIn users will judge you from your profile, so you should tailor it to make yourself seem as professional as possible. Think of your profile as a sort of live CV.
As it is a ‘live CV’, you need to make an effort to keep it updated. People will be interested to see what you’re working on now, so include information about any current graphic design projects. Just like in an interview, you should take the time to explain any gaps in your employment. LinkedIn will helpfully tell you how complete your profile is so you should aim for 100% if you’re looking to impress.
Think carefully about your profile image
For your image, again stay in the job interview mindset. You want to dress smartly and appropriately. This doesn’t have to mean you wear a suit and look serious like an investment banker. Think about your dream job with a graphic design firm and dress as you would to fit in there. Take a look at other graphic designers’ profile images and see what you can learn from them.
As it’s only a thumbnail that’s on show in the profile image, use a headshot and make sure it’s high resolution. A good way to think about it is to imagine your LinkedIn picture as your photo ID for your dream job. Don’t use an image of your graphic design work. While you may well be keen to showcase your design skills, this is not the appropriate place for that and its impact will be lost in the small confines of the thumbnail.
The ability to change your background image (the image that appears above the top section of your profile) is currently available to you if you have a premium account and is also slowly rolling out to free account holders. If you choose to upload your own image to this section, make sure it fits with the professional ethos of LinkedIn. Don’t worry if you don’t have a premium account though, unlike background images for Facebook and Twitter, the vast majority of LinkedIn users will not even notice if you haven’t customised this. Image dimensions for LinkedIn are:
- Profile picture: 200×200 pixels (no larger than 4MB)
- Background image (Premium users only): 1000×425 pixels (no larger than 4MB)
Spend time building contacts
Once you’re happy with your profile, the next step is to connect with others. Whereas on Facebook your first port of call would be your best friend, or your mum, on LinkedIn you’ll want to keep your connections as ones you know in your professional capacity as a graphic designer. You can import old colleagues and work contacts from your address books and email accounts as well as searching for specific people. You should also look to join groups associated with graphic design – these are great places to network with others with a professional interest in graphic design.
LinkedIn allows you to see who your connections are connected to and you should follow this trail while helping yourself to some people you’d like to get to know better. Keep an eye out for people who you think it would be good to collaborate with in the future. By extending your contact group you will also be helping others find you, so your chance of collaboration increases with everyone you add (and with everyone who accepts your invitation).
Don’t get carried away
While you may be tempted to gather as many contacts as you possibly can, the secret to a good LinkedIn profile is definitely quality over quantity. Don’t go connecting with people and joining groups for fun, think carefully about the professional advantage that each of your connections can give you. A handful of useful and meaningful connections are much more valuable than thousands of connections that aren’t in the same field as you.
Graphic design industry experts are active on LinkedIn and your task is to find them and connect with them. The best place to find people is within groups. Artistic communities will allow you to join their group, if they think you can add value to their conversation. The best way to do this, after you’ve built a relevant profile, is to share your expertise regularly. Be sure to use the ‘endorse’ and ‘recommendation’ features which are a staple of LinkedIn. While it is quick and simple to click on others’ skills to endorse them, it is much more meaningful to write recommendations. The more recommendations you write, the more you will receive in return.
As people you have worked with in the past are likely to endorse the skills you have listed in your profile, don’t exaggerate. If your profile is over the top, you will only annoy people, and you will soon be found out. People will also be put off endorsing or recommending you if your profile doesn’t match with the person they once worked with. Don’t endorse your friends for the sake of it either. It is much more useful to truthfully endorse the skills that you know they have.
Update your profile regularly
Recent statistics claim that 89% of recruiters have used LinkedIn to hire someone. One thing is for certain, there are recruiters online that are actively seeking out graphic designers. If a recruiter comes across your profile and sees that it is incomplete with few recommendations or endorsements, then they are unlikely to follow up by reaching out to you. Keep your profile up to date, comment and add your opinion to groups you have joined, be honest, generous and polite to your connections, and who knows, you could soon find LinkedIn landing you your dream graphic design job.
LinkedIn is the best place to advance your career as a graphic designer online. Your presence and profile should be thought through a lot more than on other social networking sites and you should stay ultimately professional throughout. Frustratingly, for a graphic designer, there is not as much room on LinkedIn to show off your creative abilities, but you should make your ability as a professional designer who is committed to the industry abundantly clear through engaging in mature conversation, linking with influential, relevant people, and keeping your profile updated.
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