LinkedIn used to be a platform for soulless copy and paste leads that felt more like spam than opportunities. My inbox used to be filled with generated messages from recruiters seeking talent in industries I had no interests in. However, the platform is evolving (or maybe the users) into being more social than professional. Now that’s not to imply one should bring the same energy as they would on Instagram or Facebook, but if you do, make sure you play to the laws of the land; meaning, in LinkedIn land, if you’re promoting your mixtape, let the tone be more about market analysis, converting leads into fans, booking shows, etc.

Moving past tone, LinkedIn is a great way to connect with people in industries you’re interested in. You can search the job title and the city to find professionals in your community that you could reach out to. An example is searching for public relations with location settings set to Charlotte, N.C. and finding a list of people who are actively in the profession in your city. Reach out by DM’ing them about how you’re curious about their experiences and see if they’d be willing to talk by phone, or even better…meet for coffee. I may write a piece on formatting a LinkedIn DM.

Most people respond well to those that are genuinely curious about them, but keep in mind, it is a numbers game; some people may be too busy to respond, some people might just not want to talk at all, and that’s fine. Put yourself out there and see what happens. My response rate is about 70% for about every 10 people I reach out to. And some may view my profile and still not connect. But the important thing is I put myself out there and have connected with amazing people who were generous enough to meet with me and share their experiences.

You can join groups where industry-specific content is posted allowing for additional insights and the ability to engage professionals in discussions focused on niche topics. This is a great way to not only learn, but build community. Groups can be specific to the city, state, region, national or international. You may find professionals you like or even learn about the ones you want to ensure distance with.  

And if it isn’t obvious, LinkedIn is a great opportunity to brand yourself. I’ve been noticing that people are straying away from formatting their professional experiences as a résumé. Instead, I see people posting entertaining narratives about their professional experiences in the form of a short paragraph rather than a bulleted list. I’m paying attention to this trend and seeing if its specific to creative industries or if it transcends into traditionally conservative industries as well. With that being said, brand yourself according to the type of employer/partner you’d like to work with. Have a nice picture in great lighting, post about your professional interests/curiosities, share links that you find valuable and have fun doing it.  

The University’s Career Center assists students with developing LinkedIn profiles along with providing professional headshots (with nice cameras and great lighting). Set an appointment with a career advisor to develop your LinkedIn profile to increase your chances of grabbing coffee with a potential mentor, employer or even business partner.  

Things to Remember:

-LinkedIn is a professional site, so discuss your interests/hobbies/business/career in a professional tone. Being personable is best; from describing the logistics of your hiking trip or financing an independent music tour.

-Reach out to professionals for conversations and coffee. If you don’t drink coffee, grab tea, lunch, something…

-Have fun with it.

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