Graduate contractors guide to social media for business

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Social media is a useful tool for networking, learning and securing new clients. As a contractor, long gone are the days where you’ll only use social media to catch up with long-lost relatives and tag friends in memes.

We live in a digitally driven world and many people use online tools not only for personal use, but to promote themselves as professionals. It can be difficult to understand where the line is drawn when it comes to social media vs. promoting yourself as a contractor. We’ve written the below guide to give you some hints and tips on preparing your social media accounts for the beginning of your contracting career.

Cleaning up your social media profiles

It’s highly likely that you’ve been a regular on social media throughout your degree. Whilst clients will understand you have a life away from work, it’s still vital that any presence you have online doesn’t give a negative impression of yourself. Doing a quick ‘clean up’ of your social media profiles will help ensure you’re always portrayed as professional.

Photos, videos and messages
Delete any photographs, videos or messages that could be seen as inappropriate. Potential clients may do a search for you, and you don’t want their first impression to be a negative one!

Security settings
Decide which of your social profiles you want to keep private, and change your privacy settings accordingly. This will give you more control over who has access. It would still be wise to avoid posting anything that could be seen as offensive. After all, nothing is completely private.

Set up a professional profile
Setting up a professional profile will allow you to show off your skills and past achievements. However, still take the time to clean up your personal ones; you never know when a client might come across it.

Choosing the right social media channel

Social media can be a great way to get your name out there within your industry and gain the attention of potential clients. The problem, however, comes when you try to spread yourself too thinly and focus your social media efforts on incorrect channels. This can be avoided by ensuring you choose the right social media channel(s) to market yourself on.

Here are three points to consider when making your decision:

Where is your target market?
It’s pointless choosing a social media platform that your target audience doesn’t interact with, so it’s important to research which channel attracts your desired demographic. If you want to target specialists in your industry, LinkedIn would be the ideal option, as it’s the leading business orientated networking service.

Which platform best advertises your services?
Each social media platform offers a different method of showcasing content, so it’s essential you choose one that best promotes your services. While a creative designer would highly benefit from the photo sharing site Pinterest, a financial services expert is unlikely to gain much from a visual strategy.

Can you utilise the channel to its full potential?
If you’re running your own social media channel, you need to be able to maintain it. Each platform requires different levels of interaction, so it’s crucial you can dedicate enough time to make it a success. Twitter, for example, needs regular updates and so will need more attention than Facebook or LinkedIn. If you know that you have a busy week coming up, you can use a social-scheduling tool such as Tweetdeck (twitter only) or Hootsuite to schedule your posts in advance.

You should also consider the type of content you will need to produce and which platform will present it the best. Facebook is a great place to share light-hearted posts such as quizzes, whereas opinion pieces or industry news would be best on LinkedIn. Joining dedicated twitter chats can be a great way of networking and knowledge sharing with peers within your industry.

See our guide to online networking for more information and ideas.

Ensuring your social media profiles are up to scratch

Okay, you’ve ensured there’s nothing unprofessional visible to clients and you’ve decided which channels you’ll be using to market yourself as a contractor. Now it’s time to think about how you’re going to ensure your social media profiles are up to scratch. Although it may be difficult when you’re on assignment to find the time to update your profile, it’s essential that you keep everything ticking over, else you risk missing out on new work.

Here’s our advice on maintaining an impressive social media profile:

Keep your experience updated
As a contractor, you may be busy jumping from one project to another, which can leave your online platforms looking neglected. However, if you don’t update your profile regularly, agencies and companies may not consider you for a role as they are not aware of any new experience or skills.
To prevent this, set aside time to keep track of your project experience so you can accurately update your profile, particularly on your personal website and on your LinkedIn profile.

Build your connections
Building a network of contacts is important for any contractor, and social platforms are a great way to expand your online reach. When meeting a new contact, follow them or send them a connection request and show your interest by interacting with their posts.

Monitoring their online activity can give you special insight in to their work and whether they are looking for someone with your skills. You should also search for prominent figures in your industry and connect with them so you can learn some important tips. If you’re still studying, why not start connecting with potential clients now?

Make sure you have a profile picture
For many platforms, a profile picture will be one of the first things seen on your profile. Keep your image up to date and professional as an inappropriate picture can deter people from connecting with you.

Make contributions
Like networking, contributing to discussions or writing your own original content can raise your profile and showcase your expertise. Some platforms will have specific outlets for writing your own opinion pieces and contributing your thoughts on other author’s work. Making new connections is great but always be professional; you never know when a potential client/agency is viewing your comments.

Key takeaways

Don’t spread yourself too thinly – choose your social media platforms wisely, you don’t need to be active on them all. It’s much more effective to put effort into one social media platform than put minimal effort into five.

Be appropriate – clients will understand that you have a life away from your career; in fact, it can help build relationships if you have something in common away from the day-to-day. However, you still need to be appropriate with what you post on your public social media profiles.

Take the time to keep your profiles updated – when you finish a contract, make the time to add the details to your social profile (particularly LinkedIn). This ensures that potential clients can see what you’ve been working on and any new skills you may have developed.

How can ClearSky Contractor Accounting help?

Whilst our main focus may be on contractor accounting, we do know a thing or two when it comes to marketing yourself to clients. If you have any questions - or you just want to start building up your connections - you can find us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

If you're ready to make the leap to limited, we look forward to being with you all the way. Whether you're a recent graduate, graduated years ago or you never went to university. For more information, please call 0800 032 5326 or email enquiry@clearskyaccounting.co.uk.

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