Both your personal LinkedIn profile and your business’ page can be tools for establishing your legitimacy, making valuable professional connections and, ultimately, helping you win more business.
As visually focused platforms, Instagram and TikTok are obvious tools for dance-industry professionals. Comparatively, LinkedIn may seem like the too-corporate older cousin, best for business conducted in boardrooms, not dance studios.
Not so, says Angel Kaba, a choreographer, teacher, artistic director and entrepreneur based in New York City. From filling her Afro’Dance classes at Steps on Broadway to finding new clients for her coaching business, LinkedIn is a necessary spoke of her business-marketing wheel. “LinkedIn is how I show my credibility,” she says.
Read on for tips from Kaba and other experts—the must-do’s and must-avoids—for growing your dance business on LinkedIn.
Do: The basics.
First things first: Fill out your full profile in detail. Like a Google business listing, a LinkedIn page reinforces your business’ legitimacy. Make sure to include a profile photo—your logo is a good option—and properly crop the image to fit within the square.
Next, your profile’s text should be fleshed out in each category. Take time to fill out the business summary, industry, company size, location, type and specialties, including key words like “dance,” “yoga” or “activewear.” People are far more likely to click on a fleshed-out profile than one with no photos, business information or links. In fact, a listing with no information could be even more detrimental than no listing at all, as it might look like the business has closed.
The same goes for your personal profile. Russian Pointe and FLX founder and CEO Aleksandra Efimova has her interns fill out their LinkedIn profiles on day one. “LinkedIn is where anybody who potentially would hire you to give you a job or to become your client would go,” she says.
Don’t: Treat it like Instagram.
Stephen Pier, artistic director of PierGroupDance and artistic director of The Hartt School’s dance division warns against posting personal photos and other content on your LinkedIn profile that’s not relevant to your professional life. “We are not there to find out what you had for dessert last night or how cute your new puppy is,” he says. “Keep it about the work, the profession, the art.”
For your business’ page, the same holds true. If you wouldn’t post the photo on your company’s website, it doesn’t belong on LinkedIn. While Instagram Reels and Stories can lean a little more casual, LinkedIn should be more polished.
Do: Post thoughtful content.
Roger Lee, an artist career success expert and arts entrepreneur, has a “You get out of it what you put into it” mentality when it comes to LinkedIn. “Don’t just like, comment and share other people’s content without sharing some of your own,” he says.
Efimova has an 80/20 rule when it comes to LinkedIn content. “I call it 80 percent PBS and 20 percent QVC. PBS has no commercials. It’s all about education and inspiration. And QVC is all about sales.” Focus on sharing content that is thought-provoking and promotes discussion and engagement, like an opinion piece on something trending in your industry. Evergreen content featuring industry tips or best practices—whether on dealing with dance parents or merchandising dancewear—also often performs well on LinkedIn. Content you’ve written or contributed to is a plus, and can establish your expertise and credibility.
As for that 20 percent, Kaba uses LinkedIn for sharing business announcements and press releases that might be too text-heavy for her 15.9 thousand Instagram followers, and creates flyers using graphic-design platform Canva to promote events.
Don’t: Go overboard.
Firing off a bunch of photos of your classes or products (or yourself!) in a row can garner an unfollow. Every post should provide some value, whether it’s shouting out an employee’s good work or announcing a new product line. Unlike Instagram and Twitter, where it’s all about racking up tweets and likes, the quality of your connections on LinkedIn are more important than the quantity.
Don’t: Be afraid to send that connection request.
While your undergrad lab partner turned biotech researcher might appear as a suggested connection and be an easy “accept,” connecting with her is unlikely to further your business. It’s better to focus on making strategic connections, whether in the dance industry or in other industries where you may see opportunity for partnership or collaboration.
To locate these potential contacts, LinkedIn has a handy sidebar on the right-hand side of personal profiles. For example, on the side of a dance convention COO’s profile, the sidebar might show the regional director of the same convention.
Whatever the aim, whether it’s offering your services or job-seeking at companies you admire, putting yourself on someone’s radar well in advance of the application or cold call may help your case. “Some of the best professional relationships and hires I made were with people who connected way in advance,” says Efimova. Those people initiated the connection with an authentic, friendly, non-salesy note and went on to write meaningful comments and contributions on Efimova’s content. By the time they applied for the job, she says, “I felt like I knew them. I felt like they were part of my network.”
Lee emphasizes the importance of a short, personal message whenever sending a LinkedIn request. Three short paragraphs explaining who he was, what he does and why he wanted to connect landed him a phone call with a dance legend he looked up to, which quickly developed into a mentor–mentee relationship.
Do: Celebrate each other.
Like receiving a handwritten note, a personalized LinkedIn shout-out can engender good favor. Efimova regularly writes posts featuring fitness instructors newly certified in her FLX method, or highlighting retailers who begin stocking Russian Pointe. Saluting others’ successes will earn you good karma when you’re looking to promote your own activities.
Hannah Foster is a dancer and an arts and culture writer in NYC.