A year or so ago, while having coffee with friends, one of them asked: “What’s this Linked-up thing I keep getting invited to?” We explained it to her. But I confessed, “I don’t really get LinkedIn. It doesn’t seem as valuable as Facebook.”
I was wrong. LinkedIn offers enormous value to writers—but only if you use it. Here are some tips to help you make the most out of LinkedIn:
Get the profile right As you create your profile, make it about where you are going instead of where you have been. Think of LinkedIn as an opportunity to tell potential publishers, editors, and employers what you’re aiming for in your professional life. Here are some tips:
*Get a professional photo. This photo needs to reflect that professional you’re becoming. So even though you work in your pajamas and rarely comb your hair, put on your fancy going-to-speak clothes and hire a professional photographer to take an awesome photo.
*Write a great headline. Your headline tells readers what you do. What’s your gig? Freelance Corporate Writer? Food and Family Writer? Help editors, agents, and decision makers understand what you do so they can utilize your expertise and skills.
*Write a superb summary. Who do you want to read your profile: prospective employers, agents, publishers, editors, or clients? Write the summary for these people. Use active voice (juicy verbs!) and state clearly what you do.
*Review your past experience and revise the content so that it supports who you want to be in the future. Leave out the experience that might not contribute to your future writing career.
*Add your blog or Web site URL.
How to connect with people on LinkedIn Repeatedly, clients and friends tell me that referrals are their number one source of new projects. Do not underestimate the power of a single connection. Writing jobs, speaking gigs, and even book deals often come from connecting with other people. LinkedIn offers the opportunity to connect with people—and potential writing opportunities—around the world.
*Connect with people you already know from school, previous jobs, and networking events. Take the time to find the people you know on LinkedIn and invite them to connect with you.
*Join groups in order to connect with more people. Don’t just join writing groups—join groups in your niche market or connected to the people you want to write for. The members of these groups value solid contributions and are wary of constant self-promotion. Be careful not to barrage the group with notices of your blog posts, book releases, and awards.
*Start a group for people in your niche. If you have a particular niche, like wine or exercise or the environment, use the groups function to start a group of people who might want to share resources and information.
*Follow businesses that you think would be good potential employers. (Several colleagues have found temporary writing jobs by keeping up on the needs of local businesses.)
Be active on LinkedIn LinkedIn only works as well as you use it. Here are some ways to get more active.
*Post updates. LinkedIn now has an update stream, just like Facebook and Twitter. Share your own blog posts, post links to helpful articles, or congratulate other people on their wins. Remember what I’ve been saying in this series: don’t just toot your own horn. Be known as someone who recommends other people!
*Once you’ve posted an update to the feed, click on “share” to post your update to your groups.
*Read the updates tab—and send messages of congratulations to connections who have published an article, received a promotion, or experienced some other win.
*Use the Answers tab under the More button to both ask and answer questions. The more questions you answer, the closer you get to expert status (and more people recognize you as an expert in your field).
Your turn: What’s your best tip for using LinkedIn?