LinkedIn is fast becoming one of the most powerful and useful tools for journalists and communicators. Traditionally known as the place for credible networking with potential employers/clients in today’s frenetic social networking environment, LinkedIn is in fact much more than an employment aid.
With its massive database of professionals and thought leaders in various fields, LinkedIn is also an ideal place for journalists and communicators to conduct research, identify subject experts and develop leads for stories.
In fact, LinkedIn offers an assortment of tools and resources to help you connect in ways that are often far more targetted and effective than other social networking sites.
I recently asked some LinkedIn users to share with me their strategies for harnessing the power of LinkedIn and they offered the following tips:
Sharon, given the size of LinkedIn it can be a difficult process, so I’d suggest combining resources – check out people who’ve provided ‘best answers’ on LinkedIn (see Answers under the “More” tab on the home page) and also those with recommendations by industry field. I’d usually compare these to other searches – check them out on Google and Twitter etc and see what the general buzz is.
I also run some ‘Answers’ streams as RSS feeds and check them regularly, it’s a manual process but it’s a good way to see who is providing valuable advice here. It’s also worth remembering that LinkedIn has a powerful recruitment function, so it might be worth seeing who has recently viewed someone’s profile as well – are they attracting a lot of ‘movers and shakers’?
Matt Owen, Social Media Producer, eConsultancy.com
Sharon I’d suggest users try finding groups that address their sector / industry and look for people posting suitable material.
What I do, every time I see someone quoted elsewhere on the web, I look them up on LinkedIn.
Mike Aitken, LinkedIn for Sales Strategist, linkedsellers.wordpress.com
I first identified a list of thought leaders on Twitter and sought them out on LinkedIn after following them a while. The LinkedIn feature I find most useful for making prudent connections is Groups. My field, public relations, crosses many sectors, so I started a group for regional professionals in the sector I’ve targeted. In that group, I get to know people and they get to know me without the entanglement of a fast connection I might repent at leisure.
Diane Wolfe, Public Relations Director, linkedin.com/in/dianewolfe
If you’re a reporter using these kinds of strategies in your research mix could save time while expanding your reach–two great benefits in today’s 24-hour news environments.
For those working in public relations, using some of these LinkedIn strategies is a great way to conduct background research on issues, strategies and techniques to enhance your client’s/company’s communications or crisis management projects.
If all you’ve done is set up your profile on LinkedIn now’s a good time to explore other features offered through this free network. Use some of the strategies suggested above to keep abreast of the issues in your beat/area of expertise and to connect with others who may offer unanticipated but needed insight and resources.
Sharon McMillan is a public relations manager and former CABJ Board member.