Social networking colossus LinkedIn can help journalists find sources, scoops and jobs. Some journalists, however, never get that far.
Worried about spending too much time on yet another social network? Linkedin boasts 175 million users with an interface is available in 18 languages and also recently added features that some say will make it more competitive with Facebook, including notifications.
Canfield told IJNet where most journalists go wrong--and how to get it right. The top five mistakes:
1. Not using LinkedIn Advanced Jobs Search as a reporting tool.
Curious to find out what positions your beat company is hiring for? Want to get a sense for the direction companies you follow could be going in? LinkedIn's Advanced Jobs Search lets you easily search for jobs that certain companies have posted on LinkedIn. You can also use the tool to search for jobs by zip code if you want to find out which businesses are booming if you work for a local network affiliate.
2. Having a lackluster professional headline.
Given that journalism is your profession, you should have an attention-grabbing headline on your profile. If you don't fill this portion out, the default displays your most recent job title and company name in search results. Take a few minutes to craft an enticing professional headline that will draw in other professionals. It could be "Freelance writer who's interested in working with clients that have amazing stories to tell" or "Banking industry beat reporter who's always looking for stellar scoops," Canfield suggested.
3. Using LinkedIn's basic people search and calling it a day.
When you're looking for expert sources, you can use LinkedIn Skills to search for professionals with precisely the kind of expertise you need, from experts in bodybuilding to Hadoop professionals. Remember to add the LinkedIn Skills you have (like headline writing and AP Style), to your own profile. LinkedIn Advanced People Search let’s you search not only for editors who live in your zip code, but also former employees of certain companies if you’re hitting a “no comment” roadblock on a big story.
4. Working way too hard for scoops.
LinkedIn makes it easy for journalists to follow LinkedIn Company Pages and stay updated on senior level changes and new hires. Search for your beat companies’ profiles and click "Follow Company" to get regular updates on hiring, promotions, departures and job listings.
Here are three recent examples of scoops via LinkedIn:
• 8/31/2012 The New York Times, "How Is H.P.’s WebOS Doing? Hundreds No Longer Work on It"
• 8/31/2012 The Wall Street Journal, "One Year After Solyndra Collapse, Where Are They Now?"
• 9/5/2012 GigaOm, “Will Amazon announce an Apple TV competitor this week?"
5. Not completing their own profile before reaching out to prominent editors and sources.
If your LinkedIn Profile has no photo, shows only four connections and simply notes that your current position is "reporter at freelance," you're in trouble. You're seven times more likely to have your profile viewed on LinkedIn if you have a photo and 12 times more likely to have your profile viewed if you have more than one position listed on your profile, Canfield said. If you forgot to add previous roles at other media outlets, you may look like a more junior journalist and get excluded from search results.
At a minimum, connect with at least 50 professionals you know and trust, add a simple head shot photo and list all of your work experience on your profile. It's also important to note the names of the publications you've written for, what beats you cover and to also include keywords that editors or clients might be searching for (like "case studies,” "feature articles" or "investigative reporting").