LinkedIn: Harness The Power of Groups

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Let’s face it…there are a lot of writers out there. It can be overwhelming, even deflating, to consider how many writers there are. But the truth is that other writers can be the best support network you have ever known.

Social media is permeating our lives. Facebook has become a noun and a verb. A few years ago, no one knew what you meant when you said Tweeted it; now it’s embarrassing not to. New social media sites are popping up nearly every week, each one touted as the latest and greatest new “it” thing. Some of them probably will be. Like the sheer numbers of writers, the varied options for your social media strategy can be enough to make you want to bury your head in the sand “ostrich-style” when someone asks you how you use social media for your business. Foomp!

A great place to start a manageable social media strategy is to set up a LinkedIn profile. Since LinkedIn is all about networking for work, it is a truly excellent place to showcase your experience and latest portfolio samples for prospective clients. Plus it’s where employers go to look for people they want to hire, so it’s an important place to put your name out there. And if you have an Elance profile, you can link it to your LinkedIn profile making it even easier to get hired.

But LinkedIn is more than just a place to post your resume and some of your latest projects. It can also be a place where you find support from other writers. I chose the group Writum, but that is just one of many. In a way, it’s a lot like wordpress.com, but your posts, called discussions, serve as the “blog” and the discussions host the comments.

Here is my latest discussion:

http://www.linkedin.com/groups/Has-Word-ever-failed-you-1788727%2ES%2E5829643090461220865?qid=819606ab-68b6-47f2-b28a-b978561f1828&trk=groups_most_popular-0-b-ttl&goback=%2Egmp_1788727

Now that’s a URL, Huh? I am resisting the impulse to make a size joke here.

If you clicked on my link then you can see that it is my earlier post about Word’s spelling and grammar check feature from my wordpress.com blog. But I introduce it to the other group members who may not know my blog but are part of the Writum community so they can also comment on their experience using the program. It is often gratifying to have others acknowledge and share their similar experiences and frustrations that accompany the mechanics of writing.

Can it get ugly? Sure. Does it sometimes feel like people are trying to promote themselves more than actually contribute to the community? Absolutely. But it can also be a community of like-minded writers who share their experience and help cheer each other on in the difficult, maddening, and often times lonely profession of writing, which we all know and love. To echo the sentiment of the Google Chrome ads that make me cry, “The web is what you make of it.”

It’s easy to join a group. Once you have established your LinkedIn presence, peruse the “Interests” pull down menu, and then select “Groups.” LinkedIn will make suggestions or you can create your own group. Find the one you like then click on “Join”. Usually you will have to wait until you are accepted and you usually are as long as you fit the profile that is set up by the group “owner.” This can take a couple of days.

Once you are in the group, be sure to post to it and comment on other writer’s posts. This is essential to making groups effective for your professional network. You may find a new online friend, a great new resource for material, an article that really shapes your publishing strategy, or even the future publisher of your next work. Participate as much as you can, but no less than once a week to get the most benefit from the group.

We are all stronger together than we are separately. By harnessing the collective artistic power of writers, we can all benefit. Writing is a solitary road, but being a writer doesn’t have to be.

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