Networking and “Subtle Promotion” on LinkedIn! By Elizabeth Armenta (WriterLiz, LLC)

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If you create anything from marketing collateral to blogs to journal articles, then you are a commercial writer. And, the commercial writer’s playground is LinkedIn when it comes to social networking.

LinkedIn has been my best resource for connecting with and securing new clients, but it takes a bit of savvy to use it well. Here are some of my best tips.

Do Some Cold Emailing

I hate cold calling. I’m a writer and most of us writers are introverted by nature. What I do enjoy is cold emailing, and LinkedIn is a great platform for it. Here are my steps for successful cold emailing:

  • Find companies in your city or industry that you want to work for.
  • Go to LinkedIn and search for the company.
  • On the right, you’ll see a list of connections who either currently work there or did at one time.
  • Search through the connections to find current marketing directors, creative directors, marketing managers, or HR personnel that you can contact.

Here you have two options:

  1. Send a generic request to connect. If they accept, send them a direct email via LinkedIn quickly describing your work and inquiring about any opportunities.
  2. Send a request to connect that includes a short email solicitation in the invite, and see if they respond. If they do, leave it alone unless they contact you. They were already interested enough to accept your invitation, but maybe have no needs right now. So, just let them stay exposed to your status updates and keep an eye out for any needs they might post in theirs.

The more connections you have on LinkedIn, the easier this process becomes. You will find that more people will become second degree connections (that you can connect to for free) rather than third degree (which require a paid upgrade).

Join Some Groups

I encourage writers to not only join writing groups on LinkedIn, but to also join small business groups or other groups related to their particular industry. Once you’ve joined, don’t just be a lurker. Post actively to discussions, create topics that generate conversation, and take every opportunity to share your “expertise” when you can. You never know when a connection to another person will land you a job (this happened to me when a client saw me connect with one of his current writers), or when you might have a lurker who is either in need of a writer or knows someone at their company who is.

Sometimes, people don’t know they need you, or don’t even consider the option of hiring freelance help, until they learn you exist!

Promote Yourself

I use my feed to quietly promote myself and my work. I do this as unobtrusively as possible by mixing it up with other non-promotional posts that offer interesting information or something for a laugh. If you just self-promote non-stop, people will most surely delete your updates from their feeds.

How to avoid this blunder? If you’re strategic about it, and include other information on a regular basis that people either don’t mind seeing or don’t get annoyed by, you can throw in little tidbits about your current projects, successes, or website updates without totally turning people off.

And, yes, this does work. One client hired me because she said she was impressed with how I engaged in self-promotion on LinkedIn.

Find Freelance Jobs

Did you know LinkedIn lists freelance jobs? Yes, it does! Just go up to the top, type in freelance writer, and make sure to select “Jobs” for where to search. You will find a nice list of professional, higher paying jobs with clients who have nice, large budgets.

And, many of the posts tell you how many people have applied, which is helpful. If there have already been 100 applicants, it might be best to try for a different one.

Enjoy a Professional Image

Without a doubt, writers need to be viewed as professionals if they want to be respected and earn top fees for the work they do. Because LinkedIn is the type of network that every CEO, VP, Director, etc. is a part of, you need to join the club, too.

Spend some time updating your profile so you look polished, educated, and great at what you do. Then, when people go to research you, or you try to do that cold email thing that I talked about earlier, you’ll have a better chance at success.

Elizabeth Armenta (WriterLiz, LLC) is a Dallas-based freelance writer specializing in commercial copywriting, skillfully mixing creativity with business, healthcare, and technology. She has a BA in English from Kansas State University and has been published in both business and consumer publications (print, web, magazine, publishing). Elizabeth is also an aspiring author and is hard at work on several projects. She expects to have her first manuscript ready for publication in late 2014 – a humorous book about her offbeat path through yoga. For more information, visit her website at http://www.writerliz.com.