Post by NCW member Anne-Marie Nichols
A blog is an easy and inexpensive way to promote you and your work. A blog can become your book’s marketing platform or an online freelance writing portfolio with links to clips and writing samples. But what if you don’t have time to blog? Or maybe setting up a simple website with your contact info and portfolio gives you a techie anxiety attack? Well, you can slowly get started in the social media realm by joining an online social network like LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com).
Social Networking for Professionals
More than 20 million professionals from around the world have created LinkedIn pages. And unlike MySpace and Facebook – two other popular social networking sites – the networking is professional not personal. This means no embarrassing pictures of you partying like it’s 1999. Though don’t be surprised if an old paramour or a high school buddy finds you through the site.
Besides being an online resume, there are more benefits to joining LinkedIn’s free service. If you’re a magazine or non-fiction writer, LinkedIn can be used to find experts for interviews. If you’re a commercial writer, potential clients can find you and see who you’ve worked with in the past. Many employers use and trust LinkedIn to find high-quality candidates. So while you may not be looking for a writing job, you may be looking for an editor, agent or publisher. Do a search on authors, publishers and agents in your niche. You may be able to connect with them via LinkedIn.
Getting Your Information Out There
When you join LinkedIn, you create a profile that summarizes your professional accomplishments. The summary is your bio, and you should also include a photo, links to your blogs and/or website, your education, your professional memberships, and your interests. I recommend listing what you write about as your interests. For example, I list social networking, health, and diet since these are subjects I blog about.
Also, remember to be safe on the Internet. Don’t list your personal contact information. Instead, use a business email address and give a general idea of where you live, like your general metropolitan area instead of naming a specific town. If you have an office, use that address instead of your home.
Once you’ve set up your page, start finding people to connect to by search on their names or their company’s name. Look for friends as well as former colleagues. You never know where those connections will lead.
LinkedIn for Writers
When you’re a writer, it’s a little tricky using LinkedIn. How do you come up with a job history if you write books or freelance? Think about projects, not jobs. For example, instead of your job title, the company you worked for, and the dates you worked there, list yourself as an “Author of Children’s Books,” use the name of your book’s as where you worked, and put down the date your worked on or published your book. If you write a column for a newspaper, put in “Columnist at ‘Name of Column’,” the name of the newspaper, and the dates you wrote for them.
For those of you too scared to blog, I hope that joining LinkedIn will give you a taste of what it’s like to write directly on to an Internet site and to publish using the save button. I bet you’ll find it’s a lot easier than you think! So get out there, set up your LinkedIn profile, and stop by at http://www.linkedin.com/in/socialmediaexpert and add me to your network.
Anne-Marie Nichols is a blog wrangler and social media consultant who blogs from a mom's perspective about food, weight loss, health, social media, green and tech. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit her blogs: This Mama Cooks! On a Diet: thismamacooks.com, A Mama’s Rant: amamasrant.com, The Write Spot: the-write-spot.com or find her on Twitter @amnichols.