Every professional should be using LinkedIn, and that goes for writers too. LinkedIn is the online equivalent of real-world networking. As such, it can be used in much the same way. However, LinkedIn goes beyond just meeting new people, and participating in "getting to know you" conversations and lead generating "dance cards."
LinkedIn for Authors
Here are a few reasons why you want to be on LinkedIn:
- Links: Links from LinkedIn to your online content count in the Google search algorithm, whereas Facebook links don't.
- Credibility: Since LinkedIn is a site for business professionals, there is an air of credibility that having a well-ranking profile within LinkedIn grants you.
- Research: LinkedIn's search functions enable you to identify agents, publishers and editors in the areas you want to get into. In addition, though, it also shows you who your mutual connections are, shared interests, and other commonalities between you that enable you to craft an introductory message that breaks the ice, instead of being just another nameless face in the crowd.
- Connections: The opposite is also true. People who are looking for what you do can find you via LinkedIn's search functionality, but only when you have a great profile (otherwise, all of the other better profiles outrank you in LinkedIn's search result - don't neglect building a strong profile). I have had a number of clients and booking agents find and subsequently hire me due to LinkedIn.
It all comes down to how you use the site, and how strong a profile you have.
So, how do you create a strong LinkedIn profile?
Follow these simple steps to create and use an All-Star author's LinkedIn profile.
- Make sure that your profile is "complete." This means adding, at a minimum, your industry, location, at least 5 skills, education, photo, at least 50 connections, a summary, and two past positions. Once it's complete, LinkedIn will invite you to share your profile on Twitter and Facebook so that your friends can see it.
- I can't say this strongly enough, make sure that your headshot is a good one of you! Don't just crop a picture out of a recent family photo. And don't use something so old or grainy that no one meeting you in person would ever recognize you. Make it friendly, appealing, close range (filling the frame), and professional.
- Add "Author" and the name of your book to your work experience. Be sure to include a description of the book, and a link to purchase in the work history. Personally, I enter the publication date as the "Start Date" and do not specify an end date. (I'll always be the author of my books. That will never change. So an end date would just be silly!) You also have the ability to attach a video or photo to each position you hold. Be sure to upload your book cover image and if you have a book trailer, add that as well. If you have a sample chapter you offer, you can link it here as well (or if you want to capture e-mail addresses, to an opt-in page to download it), so that people can get the excerpt directly from your LinkedIn profile.
- Update your profile URL to have a vanity URL. People won't remember the system-generated URL, but they may remember your name. So, update your URL to reflect that. For example, mine is http://www.linkedin.com/in/taraalemany.
- LinkedIn allows you to connect up to three websites to your profile, in addition to connecting to your Twitter profile. Point one to your website, another to your Amazon listing and the third to a particularly glowing review, your Facebook page, or something like an About.me page, where visitors can easily access links to all of your other online roosts.
- Write your background summary in a conversational style. I use first person. Making your summary conversational demonstrates that you're accessible and easy to communicate with. I also use this space to note any other names I've used during my career (maiden/married name, pen name, etc.). This makes it easier for people who connect with you from various points in your career to be sure they have the right person.
- Make sure that the summary includes keywords related to your topic of expertise. Keywords for LinkedIn profiles can be sprinkled throughout the profile (in the headline, job descriptions, summary, etc.), and should be done without naturally. The point here is to attract people, not computers.
- Add your book titles to the Publications section, as well as any guest posts you've written. Consider this an opportunity to showcase your work beyond what they can find on your website.
- Rearrange the sections of your profile in the order that makes the most sense.
Once you've built your All-Star profile, meet people who represent your ideal audience, post a "call for reviewers" in applicable groups, and continue to add content and regular status updates. The most important thing of all, consider LinkedIn as a tool for building relationships and reconnecting with people. While you can market your book there as well, that should be a much lower priority. If your focus is purely on the marketing, you'll lose the attention of the people you want to connect with the most! Give it time, the sales will come. Focus first on the people and the relationships.