Production has always been a network-based business, except we didnâ€™t say it like that until the new now. Back then it was â€œitâ€™s not what you know, itâ€™s who you knowâ€! Same thing: knowing a lot of people is what networking is about. In fact, one expert suggests that 70% of media positions are filled from within someoneâ€™s â€˜socialâ€™ network.
There are two types of networks in the New Now: face-to-face local networks such as the MCA-I, Lions, Rotary, Kiwanis, Shriners, etc; and the online, â€˜social mediaâ€™ world of LinkedIn, Facebook and MySpace.
Get involved in your industry
If there is a local chapter of the Media Communication Association â€“ International (MCA-I), join it. You should also consider joining the Digital Video Professionals Association (DVPA) for online resources.
If youâ€™re more focused on Event Videography, the Association of Video Professionals, or the Wedding and Event Videography Association International might be more appropriate.
Donâ€™t just join and do nothing. The people who benefit most from any industry organization are those who contribute. Yes, it is extra work but volunteer for the committee. Help organize programs, make announcements and generally get yourself known as a helpful, knowledgeable professional.
Beyond local organizations, get involved with issues that will affect the industry. Know when there are tax changes that would adversely affect your business; when regulation is going to get in the way or other important issue. Right now, people are concerned about shifts in frequency allocation and the reduction of bands suitable for radio microphones that could lead to increased interference. If you use radio microphones, be involved.
Get involved in your local business groups.
Whatever local business groups there are in your area, you should be in at least one and be involved. You will meet other business people, be introduced to the movers and shakers in the town (a.k.a. influencers)
Social media is the phenomena of connecting online with business people and old friends/acquaintances. It includes social networking sites like LinkedIN for business networks, or Facebook and MySpace for personal networks. While there are other social networks, like Plaxo, these three are the primary social and business networks you need to belong to.
Social media also is also used to describe any online site or tool that allows users to interact with other users and visitors. So, if you can leave a comment on a post, vote on content or rearrange the design of a site, then it is â€˜social mediaâ€™.
According to Business Week online, the main reason small business should be using social media is because itâ€™s free:
â€œThe biggest reason to use social media is that it’s free. You can be a significant player online without laying out any cash, and in this economic environment cash is king more than ever. It does take time, though, and in business time is money. But getting up to speed on social media is like learning to ride a bike; it’s difficult and intimidating at first, but once you get the hang of it you can get where you want to go quicklyâ€”and even enjoy the ride.â€
You should have a personal profile on Facebook but you should also create a fan group for your company. On Facebook, Iâ€™m in groups formed to promote the Final Cut Pro Network and Supermeets; the Boston Final Cut Pro User Group, LA Mixers (Internet Technology and Multimedia); and Goodnight Burbank.
Brett Gaylor used Facebook to promote his documentary, RiP: A Remix Manifesto. They create Facebook events you can â€˜attendâ€™ for each of the filmâ€™s screenings. They also created an RSS feed that lets you know about the film; created a Twitter channel and had the traditional â€œkeep me postedâ€ box for email addresses.
While the momentum seems to be moving away from MySpace toward Facebook, if you can dedicate the time to maintaining two communities thereâ€™s no reason not to also have a production presence on MySpace.
LinkedIn is more a service for business connections, so youâ€™ll want to be there and connect to anyone who could help promote your company. It is also very successful at promoting yourself. I have been approached with job offers because of my LinkedIn profile.
Here are some tips to better use LinkedIn to help grow your business:
1. You should link to your public LinkedIn profile in your email signature line.
Change the URL for your public profile at LinkedIn so that it better represents your name. The default for my profile was some combination of numbers and letters that made no sense. Log into your Profile and go to the â€œEdit Profileâ€ section. At the bottom of your profile is the link to your public profile and a button to edit it. My public profile is now available at http://www.linkedin.com/in/philiphodgetts, which is much easier to remember or share. I could have used a product or company name as well. Your custom URL must contain 5 â€“ 30 alphanumeric characters without spaces, symbols, or special characters.
2. Write reviews and recommendations for different people across different industries or cultures. Spread your name into as many places as possible.
3. Put as much detail as possible into your profile. Keep going until itâ€™s 100% complete according to LinkedIn. Filling in the whole profile lets people know you treat it seriously and so should they.
4. Join LinkedIn groups that make sense for you and your business. Iâ€™m currently a member of the Boston Final Cut Pro User group, Digital Media LA (dmla), FCPUG Network Community and Supermeet, Inside Digital Design Radio and TV, Marketing â€“ Video connect, Television Editors Avid and Final Cut Pro, and VOD Connect.
5. Only ask for connections from those you have some real association with. Iâ€™ll happily connect with anyone I know in person, online or have met at a conference.
6. Update your status every couple of days because it shows youâ€™re involved and active on the site. I give this advice but do not always update that regularly!
7. Be optimistic and pleasant in anything you write. Being pleasant gets you noticed.
Many thanks to my friend Dean Forss for suggesting most of these tips on how to get more out of LinkedIn. Most would apply to other social networks as well. For more information on using LinkedIn for business can be found in the regular postings of the â€œIâ€™m on Linked In, now what???â€ blog.
This is a small excerpt from my new bookÂ coming in April:Â The New Now: growing your production or post production business in a changed and changing world.