Saturday, December 10, 2011

Linked In for writers

            There are 119 million people on linked in—and many of them read!

I recently heard public speaker and Linked In guru Jeff Zelaya give a presentation on how to maximize your efficiency on Linked In.  His first recommendation was that you complete your profile.

You may already be using Linked In for your day job—but there’s no reason why you can’t add an additional current job.  Assign yourself a job title—“Author” at your website. Mine reads “Neil Plakcy, author at Mahu Books” and includes a link to my website.

SEO stands for “search engine optimization,” and in this case refers to using terms that people regularly use to search on Google and other search engines. Google values Linked In, and often includes Linked In profiles in its results. So be sure to use terms that relate to your writing, like “mystery author” and “police procedural,” as they relate to you.

Have you ever gone to an event and collected business cards? Perhaps they are from other writers who you might want to get in contact with in the future, or subject experts who express a willingness to answer questions when you have them. If you simply put those cards in your drawer, or even your contact file on your computer, you’ll quickly lose touch with them. You’ll forget about them, and they’ll forget about you.

Instead, as soon as you get home, log into Linked In. See if those people you just met are registered, and send them a friend request. Be sure to personalize it—“It was a pleasure meeting you today and I hope we can stay in touch.”

Then when they update their profile or make a post, you’ll know about it. When that attorney who offered you help changes firms, you’ll know. And the same goes for you—every time you change your profile (for example, adding a new book to your publications list) that information will be sent to all your contacts. So your name will stay fresh with them. (And maybe they’ll even buy a book!)

You can sync Facebook and Twitter to Linked In, so that when you post to one of those sites, your message is automatically added to your status updates on Linked In. But be careful not to overwhelm these people, who are essentially your business contacts (for your writing business) with lots of messages primarily intended for friends and family. You can add a feed link for your blog as well.

Under the “More” tab you’ll find questions people have asked. You can answer those questions yourself, using your expertise. That helps your ranking on Linked In, and it’s a way to share your expertise. You can also ask questions there, either ones about writing and publishing, or other questions that come up while doing your writing research, and get  answers from other members whose credentials you can verify.

Jeff suggests that you have at least three recommendations on your profile from others on linked in. Do you know people who have reviewed your books? Ask them to post those reviews on Linked In. Do you have connections who have read your books? Ask them to write a brief recommendation. The more content you have in your bio, and the more recommendations you have, the higher you will rank  on Linked In searches.

Don’t be afraid to ask people to connect with you. Remember, networking is a two-way street. Those people are on Linked In because they want to network with others—perhaps to get business, perhaps to keep up with current trends, perhaps to share the information they have. If you find someone on Linked In you want to connect with, see if you have any background in common—education, past work experience, and so on. If so, you’ll be able to send that person a connection request directly.

What if you don’t, though? The next way is to look through their connections and see if you have any connections in common. Then you can send an “introduction request” to your common contact. It’s just like meeting someone at a party and being introduced by a mutual acquaintance. You are more likely to value that new person (or be valued by him or her) because of your common connection.

Finally, if you don’t have anything in common, and you don’t have any mutual acquaintances, you can see what kind of groups that person belongs to, and join one of them. Hopefully it will be a group that relates to whatever it is you’re interested in this person for. Then participate in the group for a few days, introducing yourself and beginning to interact. Then when you want to connect with your target, you have that group membership in common, and Linked In will facilitate the connection.

Let’s say you’ve built up your connections and now you want to contact them via email. There is an export function—but be careful not to use it to spam people.

I have a background in video games, and let’s say I write a novel in which video games play a significant part. I could tailor a special email to my connections in the industry, writing something like, “Because we share an interest in video games and a connection through Linked In, I thought you might be interested in my new novel….”

Finally, Jeff recommended looking into Google Presentation or Slide Share. Both of those allow you to embed video content into presentations you upload to Linked In. Want to show off your great new book trailer? That’s the way.

Here’s another good article about Linked In, from Poets and Writers:

Now get linking!

Neil Plakcy