Social Media Week tipsFind clients, build relationships, make work easier – social media can do all this and more. Here are some of the specifics from the “Social Media for Freelance Writers and Communicators” panel*, hosted by the Professional Writers Association and IABC/Toronto’s Professional Independent Communicators on Sept. 26:

How to find clients

  • Brands and organizations often need content, such as behind-the-scenes stories or other writing for videos and publications.
  • Stalk – I mean follow – companies you would like as clients on LinkedIn and Twitter. Seeing company news and events may spark a story idea you can pitch. You may also see job openings or can get introduced to key people if you have connections in common.
  • Check your alumni groups on LinkedIn.

How to get found by potential clients or other people you’d like to know

  • Know who you are trying to reach and come up with a strategy for doing so. Start with your objective, not counting numbers of ‘likes’ or clicks.
  • Use your LinkedIn profile headline. People don’t search by a title but by what you can do for them, so build this into a mini elevator speech. Play up your communications credentials in the profile body.
  • Ask for recommendations and testimonials for both paid and volunteer work, ideally right after you have completed a project. Maximize the value by using them on your website and in your email signature and marketing material.
  • Join LinkedIn groups. Starting or commenting on discussions can make you more visible as an “influencer.” Group statistics will give you insight into who is in the group and how you might network with them.
  • Join Twitter directories.
  • Blog. Get known and remembered by sharing your expertise and success stories that show how you help clients. Link to others. Make your blog the hub of your online presence, with links to Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ and so on. Blog regularly, keeping in mind the message you want readers to take away.

How to build relationships and grow your network

  • Build your network on LinkedIn, aiming for quality (people you know or would like to know) rather than quantity. Diversify your contacts outside your field. Include complementary businesses, such as graphic designers.
  • Build your network on Twitter, where you can easily connect with a broad range of people and strengthen relationships with them. Share links, comment, retweet, listen and (occasionally) point to your blog.
  • Participate in tweet chats (follow a hashtag to comment or ask questions) to learn, connect with people and grow your network. For instance, IABC holds #commchat every Wednesday at noon EST and #solopr runs from 1-2 p.m. EST every Wednesday. PWAC tweets from professional development seminars at #pwacpanel. Use Wakelet or Twitter Moments to summarize live tweeting from these chats.
  • Join and participate in Google+ communities. Search for ones related to small business, entrepreneurs, writing and more.
  • Use Facebook to share interesting or funny things, stay in touch with people and share a bit about yourself.

How to make your work easier

  • Use LinkedIn groups and Facebook to do research for projects, gather material, get information on writing or business trends, find and learn about potential clients, identify subject experts, get advice from peers and find resources.
  • Create lists on Twitter to quickly find good information on key topics to use for content curation. You can also use lists to gather tweets from people you don’t want to miss.
  • Follow other people’s lists on Twitter. For example, PWAC has a list of writer/editor groups.

The session was lively and I was live-tweeting it while taking notes. What did I leave out? if you were there, please add anything I missed in the comments.

*Thanks to panelists Sharon Aschaiek, Karen Luttrell, Boyd Neil and Donna Papacosta, as well as moderator Amy Sept for the tips. The event was also sponsored by The G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education at Ryerson.