Wednesday, March 9, 2011

LinkedIn Tips for Writers

If Twitter and Facebook are the social networks where writers can just "hang out," then LinkedIn is the one where writers can "network" and make meaningful connections. Some writers may even be able to make connections with editors (like myself) and agents.

Many writers may not use LinkedIn anywhere near as much as they use Facebook or Twitter, but I believe in making yourself easy to find. Having a completed and optimized LinkedIn profile could lead to connections with editors, event coordinators, and other writers.

Here are a few tips I've picked up over time on how to use LinkedIn:
  1. Use your own head shot for your avatar. I recommend this on all social networks, because people want to make "real" connections on these sites. It's hard to take a picture of a family pet or cartoon character seriously.
  2. Complete your profile. There are many steps to completing your profile, including completing your resume and getting a few recommendations from connections, which leads to the next tip...
  3. Give thoughtful recommendations to receive them. Have you read my golden rule post yet? Give if you wish to receive. The recommendations you write will make you feel and look better, but the recommendations you receive in return will truly rock your solar system. Of course, to make and receive recommendations, you'll need to...
  4. Search for connections you already have. These could be "real world" connections and/or connections from other social networks. The ones who are (or have been) most valuable to you are the best to make at first. Then...
  5. Make meaningful connections with others. Search for other writers, editors, agents, or whoever you think might benefit your writing career. But don't ever spam. Look for meaningful connections and include a note about why you're contacting them through LinkedIn. Remember: Social networking is about who you know, not how many.
  6. Accept invitations. While I think it's a good rule of thumb to be selective about who you invite to connect with you, I also don't see any harm in accepting invitations with abandon--unless they are obviously not a good fit. My reasoning here is that you never know why someone is contacting you. Of course, you can always kill the connection later if it's not working.
  7. Make your profile easy to find. If possible, work your name into your LinkedIn url. For instance, you can view my LinkedIn profile at http://www.linkedin.com/in/robertleebrewer. Also, connect to your profile in blog posts (like this one) and on other social networks.
  8. Tailor your profile to the visitor. It's easy to make me-centric profiles on social networks, because they're asking questions about you. However, remember that these descriptions are more beneficial to you if you're filling them out for the prospective connections you can make on social networking sites. As such...
  9. Update your profile regularly with useful content. You can feed blog posts into your profile easily, and that will keep your profile active. You can also update your status by feeding in tweets or Facebook updates, but I refrain from doing that myself. My reasoning is that my updates are slightly different for each place. However, I can make meaningful tweets and LinkedIn status updates simultaneously by simply adding an #in hashtag to the tweet in question.
  10. Join (and participate) in groups. Heck, start your own group if you feel so inclined. Of course, participating in groups will require an extra level of engagement with the site, so this last tip is more an extra credit assignment for those who want to unlock the full potential of LinkedIn.
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Follow me on Twitter @robertleebrewer

Or connect with me on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/robertleebrewer

Or even connect with me on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/robertleebrewer

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For more on social networking, check these out:
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For more specifically on LinkedIn, check out:

28 comments:

Andrew said...

Nice post, Robert. Definitely gives me a few ideas. I noticed some former colleagues are starting to amass recommendations, no reason I can't jump in and write a couple.

I also like that you included links to a few more resources at the bottom.

amandaswrinkledpages.com said...

I must admit that I haven't thought too much about joining LinkedIn. I tend to flee from things that appear to be dressed in suits instead of sweats, but writing is a business after all.

Something to consider...thanks!

Amanda

Robert Lee Brewer said...

I don't blame you, Amanda. But there are actually quite a few poets and other creative types on LinkedIn. If nothing else, it's another entry point to you and your blog.

Andrew, I'm glad you appreciated the links. And yes, the recommendations are nice--even if you're not currently seeking a job. I view the recommendations first on any new connections I make on LinkedIn.

lc said...

Thanks for the insight. You've given me another connection to think about.

Sarah Allen said...

Fantastic, fantastic advice! I've been on LinkedIn for quite a while, but I've never been quite sure how to use it. This helps a ton :)

Sarah Allen
(my creative writing blog)

Tracie Skarbo said...

Excellent! Thanks for the heads up! I am headed there now...:)

Robert Lee Brewer said...

Thanks, everyone, for reading and commenting!

Tricia said...

Thanks for the suggestions - I've also been on LinkedIn for quite some time but haven't really gotten a lot of use out of it. I've even joined groups, but to be honest they've all been pretty spammy - the posts from my college alumni group all seem to come from the same five people selling SEO services and business consulting.

Do you have any suggestions for finding groups that are actual collaborations rather than just the bare bones of "networking?"

Debra Ann Elliott said...

Great tips Robert. I just joined LinkedIn and still finding my way around.

jessicamccann.com said...

Thanks for sharing your insights on this, Robert. LinkedIn was actually the first social network I joined, because it came across as less intense than the others and I was just getting my feet wet. It's been great, and now I have a lot of cross-over with folks I've connected with on Twitter. Good stuff.

Jessica McCann
Author of the novel All Different Kinds of Free

Carrie Schmeck said...

I have the same concern as "Tricia." I haven't used LinkedIn but have dabbled in Twitter. It seems to me that Twitter ends up like other business networking groups. We are all so interested in putting our information "out there" that we don't bother reading what anyone else wrote.

Thanks for your tips about LinkedIn. Can you give some tips on how to best use it?

bentguy said...

Robert, good stuff. I've spent more time on LinkedIn lately, and it's been useful. Being selective about the groups you join is helpful, and you can often get a sense of what they're about through their profile. One thing that can raise awareness of your work is to answer questions (through the Answers link) in the areas of your specialty.

And a nice touch is to supply—out of the blue—a good recommendation for a colleague or friend without the expectation or arrangement that they will reciprocate. It's a nice gift, and the giving is good. Thanks, Tom

BuddyWeb said...

It's good advice for LinkedIn and for other social networks. Online and offline. You have to participate, show your face, and offer something of value. Apply the same principals to Twitter and Facebook and even blogs.

Buddy Scalera
http://www.wordspicturesweb.com

Mary J. Dressel Books said...

I have a LinkedIn account and don't do a thing with it. These tips will help me start networking on LinkedIn, since soon I'll be retiring and my main focus will be writing instead of writing, plus the day job. Thanks for sharing these tips.

L. said...

Great post Robert! Do you have any recommendations for good writing groups on LinkedIn?

I have also learned that using the Q & A features is a great way to establish your expertise in a specific area and to network.

Robert Lee Brewer said...

Thanks, everyone, for commenting!

Tom, those are great points!

Tricia, I think the spammy stuff is to be expected in some groups--and a lot of it is just bouncing around until you find the right group. Or start your own and invite your connections to it. Plus, the best way to force people to talk (instead of just forcing out content constantly) is to directly message them.

As an editor, I have used social networks like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter to put out calls for submissions AND to search for specific freelancers for projects. Soooo...I know at least one person uses these tools in a beneficial way for freelancers. :)

Jade L Blackwater said...

Hi Robert - LinkedIn is a great pro tool for me.

Also, I recently discovered (yeah, I'm about 6 months behind this feature) that LinkedIn now offers a "Publications" section for profile use. It's super handy for writers:

http://blog.linkedin.com/2010/10/18/linkedin-profile-sections/

Cheers,
JLB

sheepfeeder said...

Great post Robert, LinkedIn is a resource I haven't used enough! Thank you, have a blessed day.

T.C. Porter said...

As a novelist I approach social media with caution and ambivalence. It would be absurd to think of Thomas Pynchon or David Foster Wallace climbing to the top in this fashion. What are your thoughts? Just seems a paradox to me and a shame that we have to spend so much time and energy on personal brands. Am I looking at this the wrong way? Thoughts?

Here is a more pragmatic, related question: How does one manage multi-personalities or careers on LinkedIn? I have one career to pay some bills, and then the freelance writing and novelist brands as well. Robert, do you suggest picking one identity and focusing on that brand on LinkedIn; or transparently throwing everything up there, hence having an array of communities converging on the same LinkedIn profile? In my case, there is tension between my worlds. In fact, my writing is an outlet channeling disenchantment with my other work. Does this make sense?

Not sure how to proceed. Thanks for your insights.

Claudette Young said...

This one is easy for today. I, too, have had a LinkedIn account for a long while. I'm using it more often now that previously, but I will definitely go in with your suggestions in hand to see how to optimize it.

Have a great Easter with the family, Robert, and we'll see you tomorrow.

madisonad said...

I'd like to somewhat echo TC Porter's comments from above; many of my online profiles - and especially LinkedIn - have been created for my "day job" profession, and I don't think it's possible to add writing to my portfolio.

I'm curious as to your thoughts on this as well, as it is something I have been struggling with since starting to create my 'platform'.

In any case, cheers and happy Easter!

Paul Ellis said...

Have had LinkedIn for a while.

P V Ariel said...

Hi Bob Oh Not Bob, Robert :-)
Great tips here,
though i am there for quite sometime, these tips are really worth follow.
Thanks for sharing
Pl remove the word verification so that your readers can easily post comments
best
Phil

Brooke Ryter said...

Done!

Madeline Sharples said...

Thanks for the tips. I already have a LinkedIn profile. There are some great writing groups there, so it's a good place for writers.

Norma Huss said...

This is an easy one. I've been on LinkedIn for some time, although I sort of ignored it for a couple of years. I'm gradually getting out of 'ignore' mode, but probably still not utilizing it to its fullest. Thanks for the push.

Shirley is not my name said...

I've been on LinkedIn for a while, but haven't used it since I left my last place of employment. I am still trying to optimize the profile (as with twitter and everything else) and am becoming a little overwhelmed with so many social media options. I keep telling myself "just keep swimming. swimming, swimming." But I think I'm sinking. : (

I actually use my real name (since I had a real job when the profile was created) and here is the link

http://www.linkedin.com/pub/shirletta-armstrong/a/564/195

Pennie De Witt said...

Great info! Thank you!