How well do people really know you? I have worked in a couple of different industries over the years but nothing very confusing. I’ve been doing website design for a long time and for the last six years I have also been a wedding photographer. Online I have marketed myself as a wedding photographer. In face-to-face and at networking events I market myself as a website designer. I feel that as a website designer I have more of a tangible offering to the general public than I do as a wedding photographer. There are not too many people wandering around networking events looking for a wedding photographer. What surprises me is that I get asked the question, “what do you actually do,” very often, as if I only focus on one and pretend to do the others. If somebody follows me on Facebook or twitter than they probably know that I am a photographer. This is because I post a lot of photos and talk about my camera often. Most of the people that I network with locally who are my friends on Facebook or twitter know that I am a web designer and also a photographer. But what about the people that don’t know me on a personal level, the people that have never met or heard of me before? What information will they find when they search for me? This is a good question to ask yourself. The reason that I decided to write on this topic is because I was using a new iPhone app called Evi which is a competitor to iPhones Siri. This app allows you to speak in search terms, and ask it questions. So obviously the first thing I wanted to do was ask it “who is Jerad Hill.” The first thing he responded with was “Jerad Hill the technology journalist.” This threw me off because I’ve never had anyone referred to me as a technology journalist. However it does make sense because of my websites DailyAppShow.Com, iCopilot.Net and StateofTech.Net. Both of those websites get a lot more traffic than my photography and web design websites combined. I am not sure what search components drive the results that Evi gave me but what it did tell me is that the computer, which is the most linear thinker there is, thinks I’m a technology journalist. This added yet another job description into the mix.
We cannot allow our connections with the social networks to be the only place that people can go to figure out what it is that we do for work. Even friends of mine that I have had on social networks for years get confused about what it is that I do when I start talking to them. I have found that social network friends, meaning friends that I have on social networks but are not friends in person, have less of an idea what I do because I often focus on my personal life on my social networks. I made a decision along time ago not to be a business touting robot on social networks. I want people to see me as a person, a husband, a father and Christian before they see other things. Of course if anyone is paying any attention they will notice that I do talk about what I do for a living and often post about related subjects. I want to make it easy for people to know what it is that I do for a living but at the same time I don’t want them to associate me only with my job title. The reason that I want to make it easy is that I have a different job titles in different industries which is confusing for some people to to comprehend. Even though it is the 21st century and people often wear multiple hats throughout their lives and even at the same time, people still associate you with one job. Here are some of things that I have found out when it comes to using social networks and websites to promote yourself as a business person.
The first thing is that regardless of how interesting you think you are, people are only going to remember a set amount of things about you. I will even say that they will most likely only remember things about you that they can associate with themselves. There may be other things that they remember, but only if they can associate with them in one way or another. Women usually remember that I’m a photographer because I post pictures of weddings and my kids. Most of the women I know have no idea that I have been doing website design for over 12 years unless I tell them or unless they went out of their way to find out on their own. Guys are even quicker to make associations which probably has to do with our linear way of thinking. Because of this you want to be careful how many things you throw out there at once. People only remember a set amount of things so don’t leave it to chance, make sure they remember the important ones which are your main focus.
On Facebook I decided that I wanted people to associate me with being a husband and a father to my kids. Most of the things that I post about have to do with my family. I decided this because I want to try my best to set an example in a world where husbands and fathers are not that interested in their titles. Don’t get me wrong, I am no where near perfect, my wife can attest to that. I rarely, very rarely post anything about website design. Because of that, the majority of my Facebook friends probably have no idea that I am a website designer. It is much easier for people to associate me with photography because I’m always posting photos of my kids, and they are pretty darn good photos at that 😉 That is okay with me because at this period in my life I would prefer to grow my photography business over my website design business. I get enough website design clients from my website and referrals from my lovely past clients. This is not to say that I couldn’t always use new business. New business is always good.
On twitter when I’m not trying to be funny I’m usually trying to add value some way. I feel that that is a good use of twitter, adding value. I don’t know all of my twitter followers, I actually know a very small fraction of them personally however because of the short form post length I feel it is best used for sharing short bits of good information, or short puns, because I like making jokes. I don’t do this nearly often enough. I feel that if I provide enough value people will wonder what it is that I do and look deeper into what I offer. The link I provide in my twitter profile is a link to a special page on my website that shares information I think would be relevant to people who find me on twitter. Even on twitter I post very little about website design even though Twitter is a much better demographic for sharing web related information then Facebook is due to the fact that more tech-centric people are on Twitter.
The point of why I am writing this is that you need to have some sort of a focus if you want or expect people in your general sphere of influence to refer business your way. If you expect people to think about you when someone mentions that they need to find a new insurance agent, then you need to talk about work from time to time. It is actually quite easy. I often post short posts on Facebook and Twitter about a wedding as I am shooting it. Sometimes I even take a few Instagram photos at the wedding or have someone take one of me with my iPhone.
When Myspace started to take off I saw that social network as a way to bullhorn my message to a large group of people with out having to leave the comfort of my own home. Over the years my message has changed but I am still using Social Networks to share what I stand for in this world and occasionally, what I do for a living. I suggest you find a way to do this yourself and see what happens. People will start to see what you are passionate about and associate you with those passions.