Like so many newbies to social media marketing, guest blogger Donald James was highly skeptical of using social media to expand his business. But in less than a year of experimenting with the business networking site LinkedIn, James — also known as “The Voice” at the Professional Voice Overs recording studio inNew York City — went from adamant critic to social media enthusiast. Impressed by the results, he is happy to share his experience with us here:
A “Doubting Donald” Reminisces
Only a year ago, I held utter contempt for social media. My contention (which I know I share with many other critics, especially Boomers) was that social media is a complete waste of time and merely a “cyber place” where people with no inner monologue are compelled to broadcast every cryptic thought to the world. Suffice it to say, I just didn’t relate!
But times have changed for everyone, especially here in The States, and I wasn’t exempt from the effects of our “New Economy.” Even I, a successful voice-over talent with over 25 years of experience, saw that my list of high-profile clients was starting to diminish. Mentors of mine in the ad industry were imploring me to see the value of social media to boost business, and with business lagging, I was finally convinced to give social media a try in order to rebuild my database and turn things around.
LinkedIn Leads the Short List
I started by creating a short list of social media sites that could help me accomplish my goals. I wanted my social media pages to be taken seriously and have the greatest global reach. LinkedIn was an obvious inclusion because it’s the most conservative of the social/business sites and also the largest, with over 100 million profiles.
The first step was updating my LinkedIn profile after I discovered an incomplete profile that I had apparently created back in 2006 (something I didn’t even remember doing!). I saw that I had 54 connections, but it was a real mish-mash of friends and a few clients. Going forward, I wanted my LinkedIn presence to be business-only, so I revised my profile to attract new professional contacts.
Next, I pulled out a database I have with every client I worked with over the past 25 years so I could try to reconnect with them via LinkedIn. It was a long list with well over 1,000 current, past and dormant clients. Fortunately, my new LinkedIn persona gave me the perfect excuse to contact each of them and even though not all accepted my initial invitation to connect, I was off to a good start. Along the way I learned that posting examples of my new work as “updates” also helped to rekindle relationships and bring in new business.
Expanding My Reach
My next objective was to expand my professional network beyond my own customer database. That’s where I discovered the incredible power of participating in various LinkedIn Groups which resulted in more engagement on my LinkedIn profile.
I also discovered the advantage of LinkedIn’s Premium Membership ($49 a month) which further fueled my success using LinkedIn because of several of its features, such as:
- Having the ability to contact anyone on LinkedIn;
- A monthly allowance of InMail messages;
- Having the ability to see who’s viewed my profile;
- And being able to save prospects to the Profile Organizer.
These powerful tools brought about a whole new dimension to LinkedIn’s potential! Not only can I reach out to thousands of clients and prospects each month, I can also showcase my work by posting video samples of commercials, promos or narrations. I do this by either updating my profile, which then shows up on the walls of my LinkedIn connections, or through LinkedIn apps like Slide Share and Box that reside on my profile page.
Naturally, the posting process is a considerable investment of time on my end, but it’s proven to be much more cost-effective and productive than any of the print ads I used to run to promote my business.
Career Changing Results
What has transpired in the past year since fully embracing social media — particularly LinkedIn, Facebook and Viadeo, in that order — is nothing short of amazing! My LinkedIn experience, in particular, has been truly career-changing.
Social media accomplished my initial goal of rebuilding my database and bringing in more business, but it’s also far exceeded my expectations. I now have so many new clients in Europe andAsiathat I am literally getting up every morning between 4:00 and 5:00 A.M. and heading straight to my computer to see what work has come in.
Advice to Other Newbies
The commitment to social media is truly a full time job. If you don’t devote yourself to it
as you would a startup company, you are likely to be disappointed with the results. However, based on my success, I can’t imagine not having social media as part of my marketing efforts today. If I hadn’t taken the plunge into social media last year, my current business wouldn’t be nearly as prosperous as it is today and I wouldn’t be enjoying so many great new relationships with clients all over the world .
How has LinkedIn Worked for You?
If you are embracing LinkedIn like Donald James now does, tell us about your experience and which features have worked best for you in the comments below.
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