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.