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January 31, 2011 / Sophie_Paterson

Linkedin and CCI

As Linkedin prepares to float on the New York stock exchange becoming the first social networking company to go public, we investigate. What is Linkedin, and how useful is it for professionals in Creative and Cultural Industries?

As a fairly recent graduate I only became aware of Linkedin last year when I was already in my first job. People wanted to ‘connect’ with me, and being a ‘jump on the bandwagon’ kind of person I signed up. When my company contact list ended with my job Linkedin was a great way to keep in touch with colleagues who I did not want to add to my Facebook account. Using the search function I found friends and ex-colleagues who also use the site. Building my network I discovered that my direct ‘friends’ are denoted by a ‘1st’ symbol, I can see the people in their networks and their degree of separation from me. So a friend of a friend is denoted by a ‘2nd’ symbol, the friend of a friend of a friend by a ‘3rd’ and so forth. This feature helped me find more contacts and allows one to browse profiles of people you don’t know directly (useful for head-hunters). You can also request to be introduced to somebody by a shared connection.

Linkedin has latched on to the important distinction between users’ public and professional profiles and private lives. Facebooks’ ‘New Profile’ makes professional information more prominent on your profile page and security settings mean you can limit an individual’s access to your information I’d rather maintain the split between my work and personal life. These two websites perform two separate functions and cater for different kinds of privacy, for example, I wouldn’t publicly share my mobile number on Facebook, and I wouldn’t share my photos from a night out on Linkedin.

6 months and 91 ‘trusted connections’ later and I continue to collect my friends, classmates and ex- colleagues on Linkedin, I’ve even been ‘recommended’ by two of them, and have obligingly recommended them back. Yet as the invitations continue trickle in I started to wonder- what’s the point? My CV is on there by no one’s offered me my dream job yet… So am I doing it right? Business Zone has a guide called 10 ways to showcase your credibility on Linkedin which suggests not.

As with any networking you get value through engagement, it’s not enough to just be ‘on it’, you have to join the conversation. Speaking to ex- classmates who have graduated into recruitment and the financial sector I’m told that Linkedin is an essential tool for their work and careers. I also spoke to Huw Neale who is Managing Director of Action Sports Europe, a b2b integrated media platform for the Action Sports Industry. Neale recently gave a lecture to students at the Atrium entitled ‘How Journalists can make money from social media’; Linkedin was one of the key platforms mentioned. I asked Huw for his top tip for using Linkedin; “Never directly ‘sell’ through Linkedin. It’s a tool to build connections by being “social” and participating in discussion and adding your value to your target audience. Be a thought leader – start discussions, ask and answer questions. Linkedin, like many social networks, is a long-term, ongoing process. People who send “sales” emails or post promotions about their products or services will not harness the tool to its full capabilities.”

CCI Professionals might find themselves lonely on Linkedin

While writing this post I have struggled to find anyone working in the Creative and Cultural Industries who uses Linkedin regularly as part of their work. Adam Parker is Broadcast Operator for Sky News and BSkyB and though his Linkedin account boasts 130 connections, he doesn’t actually use the site. I asked him why… “I don’t feel that there are enough people who work in the creative media industry who use it. There are better alternatives that are more tailored to media production like ‘Production Base’. Also, the fact that it seems there are lots of financial/recruitment types puts me off using it.” It seems Adam isn’t the only one who’s been put off, after sending a deluge of emails and inmails (Linkedin’s internal mail service) to CCI people who I know have accounts on the site  I am still yet to find someone who’ll champion Linkedin! Eventually I asked Charlie, a recruitment industry friend who has 477 connections, but apparently none of them were in the creative sectors, “No can do, but if you want bankers and recruitment consultants let me rock away!” Adam seems to have reached the crux of my problem- you could be the most engaged and interesting person on the whole internet, but if there’s no one else from your industry on there then there’s no point sitting on Linkedin talking to yourself.

As a Linkedin novice it is not easy to see how this useful tool for personal branding becomes an essential way of connecting with people, job hunting, recruiting and information sharing. And yet other sectors, notably recruitment and finance, swear by it. Networking is an essential skill in the Creative and Cultural Industries and yet it seems this particular networking tool doesn’t have what CCI professionals are looking for. Are you a creative who uses Linkedin? Tell us how you make it work for you, or what you use instead.

Post by Sophie Paterson

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