Looking for a credible source to strengthen your article, blog post or white paper? Need a quote from an expert to bolster your case?
There’s an excellent source you may not have considered—LinkedIn. Chances are you have received dozens of emails from friends, colleagues and total strangers asking you to join LinkedIn. Turns out more than 17 million business professionals are using the networking site.
What does this mean for you as a writer?
Simply said there’s a goldmine of experts out there waiting to answer your questions. This article will reveal how to leverage LinkedIn to add expert proof to your written work.
There’s Gold In’ Them There Hills
There’s a nifty little LinkedIn feature called Answers. Answers allows you to post any question and the members of the wide universe of LinkedIn will answer the call.
I decided to use Answers as a prime source to write this article.
Here was my question: Does LinkedIn help you solicit quotable material for use in articles or white papers?
Journalists and book authors quickly replied. Interestingly, many total strangers outside my personal network provided excellent answers.
Award winning journalist Marty Weil had this to say:
I have been considering using LinkedIn for finding subjects to interview off-line. I contribute to a number of trade magazines, and it is a constant struggle to find quality content experts in education, manufacturing and food processing. Even today, as I work on a biodiesel feature, I’m having difficulty finding appropriate content experts. One of the traditional channels–working through PR departments at major companies–is becoming more difficult and less productive with each passing year.
I wouldn’t hesitate to interview someone recommended to me by someone in my LinkedIn network
LinkedIn might also be a good source of feature article ideas. As a freelance contributor to numerous industry publications, I’m constantly seeking viable article ideas to suggest to my editors. I’d like to harness the power of LinkedIn to uncover new trends, products, and/or business practices for this purpose.
Andrew Goodman, author of Winning Results with Google AdWords affirmed the reach of LinkedIn, explaining “There are so many people on here. You tend to get people with real expertise answering questions.”
Mark Amtower, author of Why Epiphanies Never Occur to Couch Potatoes added, “Many of the questions I have asked have been targeted to specific people in my network and the answers are generally much better.”
A Few Warnings and Tips for Soliciting Quotes
When you decide to tap into LinkedIn, consider the wisdom of those who have come before you.
Weil warns, “I would not recommend pulling quotes from a Q&A forum. Speeding up the process should not be the main concern–the quality and accuracy of the information you gather should be the top priority.”
Journalist Nettie Hartsock warned, “I have used LinkedIn for garnering some experts/analyst responses. However, I always make certain to identify that it will be used for an article, etc. and ensure that anyone that replies knows they are ‘on the record’ in regard to a specific query.”
Amtower adds, “Precise questions generate a higher percentage of better answers.”
Jason Alba, author of I’m on LinkedIn — Now What???: A Guide to Getting the Most OUT of LinkedIn provided me some great suggestions:
I would use LinkedIn Answers to reach out to my network to ask for quotes. Realizing LinkedIn in a tool to facilitate and encourage relationship nurturing, I would take it a step further and try to develop relationships with subject matter experts, so that they be valuable in future articles or blog posts.
You could ask a question like this:
“I’m working on an article (or blog post) regarding collecting quotes for articles. Do you have a good story or experience to share about this that I can use in my article? I will need your written permission and attribution for the article.”
Or like this:
“I’m working on an article (or blog post) regarding collecting quotes for articles. If you have experiences in collecting quotes please share here and let me know if we can chat about it on the phone or by e-mail.”
One gets the job done for now, the other allows me to enhance my source database.
A few other ideas for LinkedIn come from journalist Michelle Vranizan Rafter. Rafter suggests using LinkedIn:
As a contact manager for sources and potential sources. As I work on stories, I ask sources or the PR rep who set up the interview if they’re on LinkedIn. By doing this, I’m building up a virtual Rolodex of sources for future stories.
To find sources. I send group emails to subsets of the list when I’m looking for company examples in a certain industry or on a specific trend or issue. LinkedIn lets you slice and dice connections listed by geography or industry, which makes it easy to put group emails together. You can also hand pick a group of names to send a message to.
To find potential sources. In LinkedIn’s Answers section, use the keyword search function to find potential sources for stories by name, company name, etc. When I find someone that looks like they could be a subject matter expert and they have an email address listed on their LinkedIn profile, I send them a message directly.
A Wrap Up
When using LinkedIn to find and quote experts, consider the following:
- Fully disclose your intentions and ask permission to quote the expert
- Be as precise as possible with your question
- Personally thank people for responding, even if you do not use their answers
- Tag good answers to you posted question with the ‘Best Answers’ label to help folks understand what types of answers you are seeking
Will LinkedIn work for you this way? Be sure to let me know in the comments.
Reader Comments (56)
Robert Gorell says
Hey, I know some of those people, I’m on LinkedIn, and I STILL didn’t think to write this blog post.
Score one for Michael Stelzner, author of Writing White Papers: How to Capture Readers and Keep Them Engaged!
Latarsha Lytle says
Hmmm…you’ve given me a lot to ponder.
What a a captivating use of Link-In…I’m now off to explore that Linked Book you spoke about.
Also, I think I’ll go ahead and log into Linked-In and click around a bit.
Thanks for sharing your insight – you’ve given me a newfound appreciation for Linked-In and all it has to offer!
Tai McQueen says
Brilliant tip, Michael. I’m working on a series of articles on various aspects of web marketing and copywriting, so I’ll test this out as I research them.
neal s says
Wow, Michael. Not only a great idea but a great idea presented quite well. No doubt I’ll be trying this out in the near future.
Jason Alba says
Michael – excellent article! Of course, I’m quoted in here, so that’s way cool, but you did a great job getting a lot of ideas that my readers can really use right now!
CEO – JibberJobber.com
Author – I’m on LinkedIn — Now What???
Co-author – I’m on Facebook — Now What???
This is really good. I have never considered it so interesting, but now I want to use your tips and search for trends and sources.
Jason Gamby says
Hey haven’t you heard of Virtudex.com? It’s the best business social network. Invite only so here is the pass code – pass08
Kate Beall says
Great observations! I used LinkedIn regularly, but I never considered it as a potential source for quotes. I’ll have to ping my network next time I need some credible quips.
Nettie Hartsock says
Great piece Mike! Thanks for the mention and of course I’m a giant fan of LinkedIn and urge all the authors I work with to utilize it. And I’m a giant fan of copyblogger so this made my day.
Gerald Neo says
Indeed, LinkedIn Answer is a very useful source information.
I once saw a question to seek advice on what’s need to take note as a new Project manager and he got 66 replies, of which, 90% are genuine advice that can be used for any manager.
Here’s site (not my site) that provide tips on using LinkedIN
Hopefully, it will be useful for whoever want to explore more on linkedIN.
Sonia Simone says
Huh, this never would have occurred to me in a million years. Very cool tip, thank you.
Barry Welford says
Clearly for so many of us we feel we should be in LinkedIn but then never use it. Like any other social medium, you’ve got to use it or it stops being social and loses all value.
Thomas Clifford says
Great post…I liked Jason Alba’s suggestions on using the “Answers” section.
Jason invited me to write a guest post on how to ask the right type of questions to get the best responses within the “Answers” section.
The Power of Questions: 5 Secrets to Strengthen Your Brand
Dan Perry says
I’m proof it works. I asked my first LinkedIn question this morning, and got 9 good responses within a couple hours. Very, very valuable.
Megan Leap says
Darn good tip Michael. Glad I found this blog…
well got an idea through this post, thanks 🙂
Santosh Maharshi says
Thanks for sharing this with us Michael. I wanted to do this from a long time but was not sure how to solicit or what would be the response or is it a good pratice. I have asked questions on internet product management in past and received some great replies which I wanted to share in the open forum.
I think Liked In is really the best plaform to gather the wisdom of many professionals available there and get targetted replies and personal insights rather than vague opinions.
Maggie Chicoine says
Better wake-up call than my morning cup of coffee! Thanks for this…
Santa Barbara Real Estate Voice says
Great article and thanks for the insight. I myself have set up an account with LinkedIn and a few other social networking sites and then have wondered…OK now what. I will for sure think of ways now that I can tap into all the excellent people (resources) that are available out there on these sites…look forward to seeing what happens.
Rich Cook says
Great article with a fascinating insight into how to use LinkedIn. I’m constantly at a loss for how to find valuable sources for articles, white papers and more. This opened my eyes.
And thanks for mentioning the book; I’ve been wondering if such a thing existed.
jim symcox says
Yes, I’ve found LinkedIn is very useful for getting expert viewpoints for articles I write too. People are most helpful and you can get a variety of viewpoints.
Geeky Gadgets says
Does this really work. Last week I posted a question related to some technical stuff on LinkedIn. But I didn’t get a response until now. May be you are lucky enough to get the reply very soon.
White Papers Now says
I have posted a number of questions on LinkedIn and always found some useful insight. However, may answers do not contain the full details you want as they are how consultants make their money.
If it is a general question – LinkedIn is a great place to start.
Michelle Rafter says
Thanks for including my suggestions here, Michael. LinkedIn thought so much of what I’ve written about how journalists can use the network, they included several posts from my freelance blog on a section of their website called LinkedIn for Journalists.
If you’re a working journalist, you can get a one-on-one virtual tour of the service from LinkedIn’s public relations staff, which is headed by Krista Canfield; make arrangements by writing email@example.com.
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