How Writers Can Rock LinkedIn

In yesterday’s post, we discussed the “fun party-line” aspect of Friday’s LinkedIn Webinar. (For all of you who are new to More Cowbell, this webinar was the May prize for the Let’s Meet Up Contest.)

I saved all the great tips for today’s Techie Tuesday post. I’ve got a whole list at the end with some tips and a mash-up of links that will make your heart flutter with delight.

Friday’s group asked fantastic questions about the software and LinkedIn’s features but below are the questions that really stood out to me:

  1. I’m not in the professional world right now because I took time off to pursue writing. How can I have a good LinkedIn profile if I’m not working?
  2. How do I add writing to my profile? It’s not my day job, it’s more like my secret life.
  3. I’ve been a stay-at-home parent for the last (fill in the blank) years. What do I put on my bio if I’m not in the workforce?
  4. I’m not published. How do you make a writer career profile if you’re not published?

On a training level, these questions made me happy because there are really wonderful answers to each one.  On a writing level, these questions made me a little bit sad because the one word they have in common is “not.” Not working, not my day job, not in the workforce, not published…

Ladies and gentleman, let me offer my humble opinion here. [TANGENT ALERT]

Not in the workforce? Are you kidding me?? Pursuing a career in writing is a HELL of a lot of work.

And don’t even get me started on the amount of daily energy required to stay home with your kids. I can’t decide whether to build a shrine to those of you who do it every day or call you all lunatics.

As a part-time stay-at-home parent, I’ve become convinced that I’d rather strap myself to a hill of fire ants than do it full time. The amount of work, patience and mental fortitude required is mind-boggling.

It takes some special mojo to do the stay-at-home thing with grace and good humor. As much as I love my daughter, it is EASIER (for me) to go work at a day job 2-3 days a week than to have responsibility 24 hours a day for helping her grow from a baby into a full-fledged little person.

OK, the rant is over. *Deep breath* Back to the fantastic questions.

1. How can I have a good LinkedIn profile if I’m not working?

  • The simple answer is – you are working. You’re just not taking credit for it or, potentially, receiving a paycheck for it.
  • I can guarantee that every one of the people on Friday’s call did something that was either (a) related to writing or (b) something they could be paid for in a perfect world or a better economy.
  • I’m not telling you to lie but if you are the go-to person at your church for resume writing, you are running a volunteer resume-writing business. Your skills are there and they should be reported on your LinkedIn profile. Those 100 people at church wouldn’t have been coming to you if you sucked at it.
  • Plus, everyone who’s looking for a job knows that the process is a full-time job in itself. Change your profile experience to “HR Professional” or “Writing Professional” like everyone else looking for a job and list the things you are doing in the meantime. We all get it.

2. How do I add writing to my profile if I work a different day job?

  • Join writing groups on LinkedIn that appeal to you and participate in them.
  • Start a blog and list your blog in your professional experience. If nothing else, this will build traffic to your blog from the people you know who want to see what their business associate is up to. I warn you, this is scary. Kristen Lamb’s take on this made me stop and think.

Note: If you want to, you can create a separate LinkedIn identity – I’ve been wrestling with this for a long time myself because my professional experience on LinkedIn is under my married name and has been years in the making. It is a personal choice how you do this, but don’t HIDE your writing. Celebrate it. Since I started mentioning my writing, it has been amazing to me how much I get called on to do it at work. (Hint: this means I now get PAID to write…just sayin’.)

3. What do I put on my bio if I’m not in the traditional workforce (i.e. staying home w/kids)?

  • If you are a stay-at-home parent, I know you are volunteering somewhere. Usually, this isn’t even because you asked to. Many (misguided) people assume you have TONS of time on your hands because you *finger quotes* don’t work. They try to talk you into doing things for them. D.A. Watt did a great blog on this over at Writers In The Storm. List your volunteer experience proudly on your LinkedIn profile.
  • As with the example I mentioned above about the church resume-writer, you are fantastic at something (like writing!) and you need to spend some paid time doing that thing. Trust me, even if you are typing college papers or editing business brochures, you will take yourself more seriously if you charge for it. Others will too.

4. How do you make a writer career profile if you’re not published?

  • As I said above, list your blog.
  • List any contests you’ve won in your Honors and Awards
  • List any writing chapters you belong to.
  • Put Freelance Writer on your experience profile and list your freelance credits.
  • Volunteer somewhere related to writing (with a cool title, of course) and list that too. Yes, you’re using them for the cool title, but the organization is getting work out of you while you fill that hole in your resume.

All of you who are striving toward a goal, remember the journey deserves to be commemorated too. To paraphrase another recent post by Kristen Lamb: During the long trip across the desert, you don’t need to look further ahead than the next landmark. Then the next, then the next. Eventually, you will be on the other side of that desert.

To sum up:

  1. You have more experience than you are giving yourself credit for. Look at your activities with new eyes and find a job description for them. List your skills and remember, a resume needs to be intriguing enough to make someone want to call you in for an interview. That’s its only purpose. In writer’s terms, think of it like a book — if you bombard them with detail and unnecessary backstory, they will stop reading.
  2. LinkedIn is excellent for networking. Groups are the easiest place to start. Be sure to relax and enjoy yourself!
  3. Use the search function I discussed in my post on LinkedIn Answers. Only instead of choosing Answers, pick people and go to the Advanced Search where you can search by Job Title. Can anyone say “Literary Agent?”

Must-read Mash-up of LinkedIn Tips:

Does this give you any new ideas about how to use LinkedIn? For those of you pursuing this crazy writing dream, what are your biggest fears? Did anything we discussed here help alleviate those fears? You know I love hearing from you!

ANNOUNCEMENT: There is still time to be a winner of the June webinar in the Let’s Meet Up (for Training) Contest! The magic hat migrated to The Secret Place in yesterday’s house cleaning so I’m currently tossing names into a coffee mug. (Don’t you hate it when something goes poof??)

I will announce the June Winners in Thursday’s blog (once I’ve found out where The Secret Place is).

See you Thursday!
Jenny

About Jenny Hansen

Avid seeker of "more"...More words, more creativity, More Cowbell! An extrovert who's terribly fond of silliness. Founding blogger at Writers In The Storm (http://writersinthestormblog.com). Write on!
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17 Responses to How Writers Can Rock LinkedIn

  1. Jim Devitt says:

    Good post! I created a separate linkedIn identity, using my same name. It’s worked out well and doesn’t interfere with my “day” job. If colleagues want to find me in my “author” identity, it’s there for the taking.

    Also, no one should underestimate the power of linkedIn, it is right up there with my stats for facebook and twitter, a little behind, but significant.

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Jim,

      So you just used your writing email address for one and your business addy for the other? What an awesome idea! Follow Jim, More Cowbell LinkedIn peeps…follow Jim. He’s a cagey one!

      Like

  2. Jill Kemerer says:

    These are excellent tips! I have a LinkedIn account but do almost nothing with it. I’m ready to tackle this one! Thanks!

    Like

  3. Thanks for the mention! Looks like a nice list of resources there.

    Like

  4. I can’t believe I’m hiding from the groups I joined on LinkedIn….*Hangs head in shame*

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      You’re a playwright, you know that usually somewhere in the why is the important answer.🙂

      Loved your comments on Kristen’s Star Wars blog, BTW. How did your speaking engagement go??

      Like

  5. Jenny, you make this so easy. Thanks for the additional links. Until last week’s webinar, I would never have thought to use LinkedIn for my writing.

    Are you a member of RWA? Their new MyRWA has the option to include on your profile page your LinkedIn address, as well as addresses for twitter, facebook, website, and blogs.

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      What a compliment, Sharon!! Thank you.🙂

      I’m glad you’re getting your writing life started over there. I’m still circling whether to launch a Jenny Hansen LinkedIn or use my business account. I’m certainly not hiding in my writing circles…it’s all Jenny, all the time in there once they find out you’re a trainer.

      Thanks for helping Friday’s webinar be so fun. You know, you had the voice that launched the “Party Line,” right?

      Like

  6. Pingback: More Sacred Cow-Tipping–Common Blogging Misconceptions « Kristen Lamb's Blog

  7. oh thank heavens! finally someone has demystified LINKEDIN for me. I can’t tell you much I am grateful for this post.

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Thea,

      I don’t like anything technological to feel like a mystery. I think that’s WHY I became a software trainer. People forget that their computer is stupid and there are soooo few places to go ask for specific help. You feel free to pop in here with questions anytime.

      Also, your comment enters you into the drawing for the June and July Let’s Meet Up (for Training) contest. Just let me know if there is a topic you are interested in…

      Like

  8. As always you’ve written a great post with lots of cool information. Thanks.

    Like

  9. Great post! I’m saving this guy….

    Your post also wanted to make me scream, “I’m a writer, damnit!”

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Yes, you are a GREAT writer, dammit! I think the tendency when we’re not being paid for something (yet) is to minimize it. I do it too, though I’ve been talking myself out of this behavior the last few years.

      We’re a sparkly bunch over here at More Cowbell and we need to start giving ourselves a little credit. At the very least, do so on LinkedIn!

      Like

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