Thursday, March 1, 2012

Making the Most of LinkedIn


With 150 million members in over 200 countries, LinkedIn has established itself as a professional social media powerhouse. In 2010, LinkedIn members did almost 4.2 professionally-oriented searches. Below are a few hints & tips to navigating and making the most of LinkedIn.

Much like Facebook, LinkedIn allows a user to set up a personal page as well as a business page. A personal page should be used to show an entire history of your work, much like a complete online resume. You can acquire recommendations from previous employers, colleagues and the like. A business page should be used for the current business that you own or are working for. Although there are similarities in how both pages are used, your business page should be completely focused on the industry you currently work in while your personal page content can vary.

PERSONAL PAGE:

While I recommend maintaining privacy on most social media platforms, LinkedIn is the exception to this rule. LinkedIn is meant to be strictly professional, so there shouldn't be any intimate details or incredibly personal information that appears on your profile.

If you have a business Twitter account, make sure that you link that account with your LinkedIn profile. This will allow you to share updates using your Twitter account. In order to link your account you need to log into LinkedIn, click on 'Profile' and then 'Edit Profile'. In the top portion there is a field called 'Twitter'. Click 'Edit' next to that field and you can add in a Twitter account and choose to import your tweets directly into LinkedIn.

Make sure that your personal brand image is aligned between LinkedIn and what a potential client would find if they did a Google search for your name or business name.

Include an up to date, professional headshot as your profile picture. As always, make sure that this image is consistent with your online brand (it should match your profiles on all sites).

Your profile information should always be up-to-date and accurate. Add new projects that you've worked on and review your information on a regular basis to make sure that it is the most current information that you have.

Collect recommendations from past colleagues to establish credibility with future employers or clients. Also remember to recommend colleagues that you respected from past jobs.

Be sure to network! LinkedIn's focus is networking. Make sure that you find old connections, clients and peers and establish new connections through groups with similar interests to yours. Seek out companies that you hope to work with in the future.


BUSINESS PAGE:

Create a company profile for your business, linking your personal profile to your company. Potential clients can keep tabs on your company page to see what you've been working on.

Make sure that you include your services on your company page, you want to make it easy for people to see what you have to offer. To adjust this you click 'Admin Tools' on the right side of the page, then select 'Add a product or service'. From there you select a category that best fits your service. You can name it, add an image,  a URL, contact information and more.

Post regular status updates separate from your personal page to make sure that your company profile doesn't become stagnant. You should aim to post one or two updates each day from your company page. The content can come from various sources, such as your website or blog.

Check the analytics of your business page to see what people are gravitating towards and what they're steering away from. You can adjust the lesser-trafficked pages to have content more consistent with the popular pages. The analytics tab is the fourth tab over on the top of the page.

Make sure that you add a plugin to your blog or website that can direct people to your company LinkedIn profile. This is such a simple step and can help drive a lot of traffic to your LinkedIn page. Depending on which blog service you use, the way to go about this varies. If you are having trouble figuring out how to add this plugin, I would recommend doing a quick search on Google.

One of the greatest features of having a LinkedIn company page is that you can create multiple versions of your page that can be aimed at different audiences. Once you create the first version, you can click "New Audience" to create another version with a different description and overview to target that audience. 


Written by:
Bethany Baker
Such A Voice Marketing Director

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Rest Your Mind and Your Voice


Countless nutritionists, physicians, sleep experts and various other medical professionals are always touting the numerous reasons why sleep is SO important to your health. I am here to offer you one more reason, your VOICE.

You rarely hear about a voiceover artist bragging about practicing habits that are obviously detrimental to their voice (such as drinking excessively or voicing a long script when they are stricken with something such as laryngitis), yet you often hear people trading war stories about their lack of sleep. They wear these stories almost as if a badge of pride, talking about how late they stayed awake to work on an audition just to wake up only a few hours later to voice a job for a repeat client. I'm always surprised to see these stories, considering how much sleep impacts vocal performance.

By now you probably know the effect that sleep has on your voice without even realizing it. Does your voice sound different in the morning, afternoon and evening? Chances are that your voice sounds it's deepest in the morning, when your vocal chords are the most rested. Some of our students claim that their optimal voice is 2-3 hours after waking up and others say that their voice is at it's best immediately when they roll out of bed. Depending on the type of script you are reading, you may choose to voice different jobs at varying times of the day.

There have been studies that link a lack of sleep to the constriction of your vocal chords. After a restless night, you will find that your voice may have difficulty reaching or sustaining notes in a higher octave and it almost seems as if your vocal chords are sore. So unless you're going for that 'I've spent all night in a smoky bar' sound, make sure that you get a full night's rest!

If your short evenings of rest become habitual, you must be very careful not to continue to put stress on your vocal chords when they are at a less than optimal performance level. Although most vocal strain is reversible, you can develop nodules on your vocal chords if you keep repeating this action over a long period of time. Although nodules can typically be removed surgically, you run the risk of missing out on income generated by voiceover jobs while recovering from surgery, if not changing your voice itself permanently.

Don't forget that a lack of sleep also puts a damper on your energy level. This can be extremely detrimental if you're voicing a script that needs a high-energy level or a reading that is particularly lengthy. Your audience may never have a chance to see what your body does behind the mic, but it is still imperative that your energy level comes across appropriately in your voice. Sometimes the best auditions are achieved by physically moving your body to up the energy level of a read. This can seem like quite a large task if you're exhausted.

The amount of sleep that you need can vary greatly. It can be anywhere between 5-9 hours (or more). Recent studies have shown that 8.25 hours of sleep is the optimal amount for our bodies and that anything less can decrease cognitive functions. Unfortunately, there aren't many people out there that are able to get the full 8.25 hours of sleep each night, so instead of focusing on the number of hours that you sleep, focus on the quality of those hours. If you have a fitful 9 hours of sleep, it will obviously be less restful than a solid 6 hours.

To ensure that you're getting a quality night's rest, make sure that you're in a dark, quiet room. You also shouldn't consume any alcohol or caffeine close to bed time, you should make sure that you don't eat a late dinner or exercise right before you lay down and try to keep your mind as stress-free as possible in the time leading up to your rest. Also remember that your bedroom should be thought of as your room of rest. Outside stimulus such as a television or a computer has been shown to interrupt the REM (rapid eye movement) stage of sleep, which directly affects your quality of sleep.

I've found that my personal sleep requirements tend to vary depending on quite a few factors. My physical health, recent physical activity and stress levels are three examples of variables that change my sleep requirements on a daily basis. In general, just try to listen to your body and rest when you feel tired. Your body will do a wonderful job of telling you when you need to rest, all you have to do is listen!


Written by:
Bethany Baker
Such A Voice Marketing Director

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Talent of the Month: An Interview with Kim McKay (AFTRA, Voice Over Artist, Print Model and Actress)


"I have already landed a national radio AFTRA voiceover for McDonalds!"

Kim's performing (and voiceover) career started long before she began her training with Such A Voice. "I've been an AFTRA (union) performer for years. I had voiced two jobs long before I had even thought of pursuing the voiceover industry full throttle." Kim had kept busy doing soap operas and primetime cop shows, so she didn't have too much time to consider pursuing another avenue of performing, despite many people telling her that she should venture into voiceovers more seriously. Kim enjoyed her past experience in the voiceover industry so much that she decided to pursue it further by getting the proper training.

Kim had the pleasure of attending an introductory class on the voiceover industry held by Such A Voice President, Dan Levine. From there, she researched her options and concluded that coaching with Such A Voice would give her everything that she needed to seriously launch her voiceover career. "The Such A Voice training included many valuable training sessions. I really enjoyed the bi-weekly live training series, which included subjects such as 'How To Market Yourself', 'How To Self-Direct', 'What Not To Do Before An Audition' and many more topics."

Being that Kim is already an AFTRA (union) performer, she mainly wanted to pursue training for voiceovers to add another dynamic to her resume. Kim found that her acting background helped with her voiceover career quite a bit. "When you audition for roles, you have to be focused, trust your instincts and become that role. Fortunately I have the ability to take direction very well and really listen to my producers/directors when making changes. All of this experience I had previously gained from acting was easily transferred to the voiceover industry." Kim also uses her acting background when going after a new job. "I used to worry too much about 'getting the part'. Now I handle this by going to each audition by just repeating to myself 'I am this character, in this moment, in this time'. It really calms my nerves and helps me to deliver the best audition that I can!"

Since Kim's training concluded, she has sent out approximately 225 emails of the demo that Such A Voice put together for her. Kim has been picked up by two agencies that have sent her on countless auditions. The first job that she landed after her core training had concluded with Such A Voice, was a national radio AFTRA VO for McDonald's. "I gave them everything that they asked for in the original audition and it was that simple!" Kim also takes the time to remind me that due to her being in the union (and being marketed by an agent) that "sometimes it takes a little longer" to book jobs.

Kim is certainly no stranger to persistence, so I don't even bat an eyelash when she gives me her advice for people interested in the voiceover industry. "Keep on persisting. Keep up with the bi-weekly live training sessions. I kept a notebook on everything that I learned from Such A Voice and I'd highly recommend that every student do the same. This way you can refer back to it often whenever you have questions, concerns or start to doubt yourself."

Congratulations, Kim. We can't wait to see what you accomplish next!

Written by:
Bethany Baker
Such A Voice Marketing Director