Put LinkedIn to work for you.
By Lance Evans
Even if you’re in the business of art for the love of the craft, your ultimate success still comes down to making sales. Sales come from leads, which, depending on your business model, could come from patrons walking in off the street, advertisements in an arts publication or exchanges of business cards at some chic Sotheby’s cocktail party.
Increasingly, though, as art sales have moved online, so has lead generation. To increase your online leads, you could use the Internet to look up prospects or, alternatively, engage in online social interactions, such as blogs, forums, or Twitter feeds, that focus on art and collecting. Both of these techniques can potentially be successful, but they could also turn into a huge waste of time and net you few prospects.
However, LinkedIn offers yet another option for generating online leads. An online social network for professional adults, LinkedIn is hugely successful, boasting more than 315 million members. The business-to-business network can help you build meaningful alliances and connections that can lead to sales, trades and deals.
What makes LinkedIn so valuable to the art professional? According to online sales guru Brynne Tillman, it offers you the “warm-call” effect. “I did cold calls for years,” she says. “I know how hard it can be. LinkedIn is like doing a warm call, . . . where you have had some prior contact with the recipient, perhaps through a previous call or an introduction.
“LinkedIn works in two ways,” she continues. “One is that you can use it to actually get an introduction through linking members. But, even if that’s not the case, merely being in the same network breeds some level of camaraderie.”
Tillman, a veteran sales pro herself, says that she now generates her leads almost exclusively on LinkedIn. ABN spoke with her about how an art dealer, a consultant or even an independent artist could use LinkedIn’s powerful resources to discover and connect with leads they might otherwise never have had access to. Her top suggestions follow:
CREATE A CLIENT-ENGAGING PROFILE
There are many vital parts to a good solid profile, and they all matter.
- Pretend you are on an island looking at your prospect in a boat. You need to get into that boat and see your profile from her perspective.
- Articulate the value your art brings to the client’s space.
- Take that value proposition and create a 120-character headline. For example: “I represent midcentury artists that are the epitome of elegance and a top investment value.”
- Elaborate on your value proposition in your summary. Why should the buyer work with you? Perhaps you can even give tips on how to choose artwork for the client’s space.
- Add case studies to the “Project” section on your profile. Include client profile, challenge or opportunity, and your solutions.
- Get recommendations from past clients. Ask them to tout your work.
- Add a call to action at the bottom of your summary. Ask the viewer to call you, fill out a response form or buy something.
SIGN UP FOR SLIDESHARE
LinkedIn owns Slideshare, a web-based slideshow-hosting service described as the YouTube of slideshows, and Google heavily indexes it. It also works seamlessly with the LinkedIn platform, so upload your samples.
Find and join LinkedIn groups that your buyers are likely to be members of. Then post content and articles and engage with other members in the group.
POST ARTICLES ABOUT YOUR ARTISTS OR YOUR GALLERY IN “PUBLICATIONS”
Play up any media coverage of your work by adding it to the “Publications” section of your profile.
EXPAND YOUR CONNECTIONS
- Find out who your clients know who would also make good connections for you.
- From the connection’s profile, click on their blue connections number. The next page will list all their connections. Click the search-bar icon, which appears a gray magnifying glass in the top right corner of the page. Do not confuse this icon with the main search bar at the top of the page.
- Enter the keyword or title of the people you would like to meet—for example, “architect,” “designer” or “art collector.”
- This search will likely return many hits. You can narrow your search by clicking the “advanced search” button in the top left of the Connections box. Filter your search according to location, industry, or both.
- After you’ve made a list of a few people you’d like to contact, ask your mutual LinkedIn connection whether he or she can introduce you to those that you’d like to contact.
Tillman concludes with this advice: “If you invest a bit of effort in LinkedIn, you’ll find you can monetize it in ways no other platform offers.”
You can learn many more LinkedIn marketing techniques through Tillman’s company Social Sales Link, through which she offers educational seminars and private counseling sessions to both small and Fortune 400 sales teams, or from her 2014 book LinkedIn & Social Selling for Business Development.