A few months ago, I saw Guy Kawasaki’s blog post, 10 Ways to Use LinkedIn, and it made me realize that you can use LinkedIn for a lot more than just networking. For example, journalists can get value from LinkedIn both as a research tool and as a tool for career development:
Here are ten ways for journalists to use LinkedIn:
1. Get noticed for the work you do
I’ve seen a lot of journalists with pretty sparse profiles. This is a mistake. You don’t have to write a novel, but at least put information about your areas of interest so that people know what to contact you for. The text that you include is searchable, so if you’re looking for travel-writing gigs, make sure you include this somewhere in your profile. Also, listing your past employers and education makes it easier for old colleagues and classmates to find you. Here’s an example of a well crafted profile: David Lidsky, Senior Editor of Fast Company.
2. Build a network without making networking your full-time job
To use LinkedIn well, you need at least 20 connections. But, this doesn’t mean you should connect to every publicist who sends you an invitation. LinkedIn works best when you connect to your top sources, important industry contacts, coworkers, and people who know you well. These are the people who can help you do your job, find new opportunities and pass on story ideas that are more likely to be of interest to you.
3. Network without suffering the deluge of requests to “write about me!”
Journalists and high-profile bloggers tend to be highly coveted individuals. In fact, TechCrunch blogger, Michael Arrington, is the second most contacted person on LinkedIn (after LinkedIn’s founder). Control who makes it to your in-box by going to LinkedIn’s Accounts & Settings page to alter your notification preferences. If you find yourself overwhelmed with requests, you can opt to receive notifications once a week or only when you log into the LinkedIn website.
4. Use a connection to get a great assignment.
If you’re a freelancer or looking for a job, perform a search in the “Writing and Editing” industry sorted by “Degrees away from you” to see who might be able to help you in your network.
5. Find an expert fast
The advanced search feature is the most powerful tools you can use on LinkedIn. You can search for any combination of keywords, job title, company, location, industry, and you can sort by “degrees away from you” to find people close to you in your network. This is a great way to find experts in almost any field or subject matter. You can also track down executives at companies.
6. Confirm a rumor
One of the best ways to find out the inside scoop on companies is to find former employees who are willing to talk to you. To do this, use LinkedIn’s advanced search for the company’s name and uncheck the “Current companies only” box. The results will include both current and past employees.
7. Get responses to queries from non-PR types
Often, if you send a query to a place like PRLeads, you get mostly public relations people answering you. This works fine in most cases, but sometimes you need something different – for example a quote from a type of person who would not typically hire a publicist. LinkedIn’s Answers service allows you to ask questions to the network and get answers from a wide range of people. Answers are tied to the professional profile of the person who responded so you can quickly assess credibility and determine whether to contact the person. Here’s an example of a journalist’s question on LinkedIn Answers.
8. Get ideas for sources, topics and trends
If you don’t want to post a question, LinkedIn Answers has a search box that allows you to search the archives. This is a great way to search for sources. A search for keyword “Des Moines” will likely find you folks in the city who like to talk about it, a search for “iPhone” will show you some of the buzz around the product. A great way to get ideas for stories is to peruse through the various categories of LinkedIn Answers to find out what people are saying about topics and trends. For example, here are a few of the many categories: career development, personal finance, technology.
9. Qualify pitches
If you find yourself getting daily pitches from the “hottest new [insert industry buzzword] company,” try searching for the company on LinkedIn. Take a look to see if you are connected to any of the employees, check out their profiles, their backgrounds, and their relationships. If they’re really hot, then they’re probably connected to key industry movers and shakers.
10. Promote your book!
LinkedIn allows you to publicize websites. There are a few pre-selected categories like “My Website,” “My Company,” etc. If you select “Other” you can modify the name of the link. If you have a book, you can create a link to a webpage that promotes it or directly to an Amazon page where people can buy it. You can bet that I was all over this feature: My new book: Brazen Careerist.