As an advertising copywriter working at big agencies like Ogilvy & Mather, I thought I was living the dream. But every once in awhile I would get to name something and I would realize that that’s what I really loved to do.
When I discovered in 2003 that naming brands was a bonafide profession, I didn’t want to be a copywriter any more. I wanted to be a professional namer. Easier said than done.
Contrary to popular belief, advertising and branding rarely intersect. Branding (creating the name, tagline, identity design, and packaging) is something that is done in the very beginning of product development. Advertising comes much later, and the campaigns are created by ad agencies– not branding firms. So while I was well networked among ad agencies, I didn’t have any contacts in branding.
How do you stake your claim as a naming genius when your own name isn’t widely known?
In truth, LinkedIn was not my first thought. In fact, at that time, I thought LinkedIn was a place that people with full time jobs used to look for new full time jobs. I’m glad a client told me otherwise.
LinkedIn turned out to be the most important tool for getting my name out there. Building out my personal profile and kicking my networking into high gear helped me connect with some key industry players, which led to me snagging a lot of naming jobs. Now I was hooked. I started to spend more time on LinkedIn, learning how to use all of the tools available to me. Before I knew it, my network was growing and so was word of mouth about my business.
LinkedIn not only helped me get started, but it was also critical to helping me get my business off the ground, attracting new customers, and building my reputation as a creative namer.
Here’s how I made LinkedIn a part of my journey into a new industry:
Write your profile in the first person the way you would talk about yourself at a networking event: You want to sound approachable, not stiff and corporate. Writing in the first-person voice makes your profile sound like someone your future connections (and clients) would like to meet in person. For part of my description of my old freelance copywriting work, I wrote, “I rode the dot com gravy train until it crashed in my backyard.”
If you’re having trouble describing who you are and what you do, record yourself talking about your business to a friend, and transcribe that conversation.
Use every character available on your LinkedIn profile: Max out the space that LinkedIn gives you to tell your story. Your profile is your best opportunity to get people interested in you what you have to offer – so why not go long on descriptions? My profile summary has a long list of all of the brand and product names my company has developed recently – it’s the perfect place to show off my work.
Get personal when you send InMails: When you meet someone at a business mixer or a conference, you usually try to find some common ground to kick off the conversation. Do the same thing when you send InMails to people you want to connect with: Include something that you read in the person’s profile like an interest or college you share. I usually say something like, “I see we’ve got several connections in common, and I’d love to have you in my rock-star network too.” Who could say no to that?
Fill your profile with conversation starters: Your profile shouldn’t be a dry recitation of past jobs – spice it up with the things that make you a great person to work with. In my case, I added, “Paid to eat Ghirardelli chocolate and write about it” under the Honors & Awards section of her profile. That’s gotten a lot of attention.
Fast-forward to today – I still use LinkedIn every day to keep my network strong and to share ideas with other people in the business. (It’s also been a great place to promote my new book, “Hello, My Name is Awesome: How to Create Brand Names That Stick.”)
To learn more about how to use LinkedIn for your business, visit smallbusiness.linkedin.com.