LinkedIn 101 for New Copywriters

Note from Ilise: I invited "Melanie the Marketer" Deardorff to be a guest for a live session in my latest course for AWAI, "The 21 Day Challenge with Ilise Benun," and she turned the questions we answered into content, which I, of course, always love. Thank you, Melanie!

Both new and more experienced copywriters from across the globe (literally, from what I read on their LinkedIn profiles) joined the program that promised to help people find paid projects more often with active use of LinkedIn. 

The hour I spent on the Facebook Live with Ilise and the AWAI staff went by quickly. Ilise asked me to share my thoughts on being a copywriter, and we answered audience questions throughout our call. After the Live ended, people shared more questions on the group's Facebook page, which I had fun responding to.

Ilise Benun and AWAI

Here are 10 of the many questions we received and the answers I gave — they're just polished a bit more here because, well ... there's no Facebook Live pressure!

Q. I don't know where to begin on LinkedIn. Where should I start?

Learning something new can be stressful, and who needs that these days? You can't take in all that LinkedIn has to offer in one sitting, so limit the amount of time on the platform when you're just starting out. 

Do something easy and fun, such as sending connection invites to people in your life — and not necessarily people you want to hire you as a copywriter. This gives you a chance to grow your LinkedIn connections stress-free. I'm connected to my dad, sisters, cousins, former co-workers, my window-washer (!), neighbors and many others who will, most likely, never hire me for a copywriting job.

Q. Is it asking someone to do me a favor when I offer to connect on LinkedIn?

A. No, not really. Everyone on LinkedIn is interested in growing their network. Think of it as a virtual networking meeting where people walk around asking for and handing out business cards. It's expected behavior.

Q. If my profile isn't complete yet or if I don't have many connections, does it still make sense to connect with people? (An alternate version of this is, will LinkedIn restrict my visibility if my profile isn’t fully built out?)

A. I don't know the mysterious ways of LinkedIn's algorithm, but I do know that LinkedIn shows me all types of profiles when I'm searching for people — profiles that are awesome and full of information, profiles that are just so-so, ones where people have 500+ connections and some where people have just 10.

LinkedIn is more about revealing facts, such as names, job titles, locations, company names, industries, etc., along with the keywords and phrases ("automotive industry copywriter") people use to help LinkedIn categorize our profile.

Q. If I don't have professional experience in a specific industry or role, how do I show my affinity and interest on my profile?

A. This question came up more than once, and I understand why people have the concern. When I was in a traditional marketing and communications role many years back, I yearned to be thought of as a "digital marketer." As I grew my knowledge in that area, I began incorporating the phrase into my resume, my corporate email signature and on my LinkedIn profile.

Remember — just like a resume, LinkedIn is our best, professional self we want the world to see. We should describe ourselves honestly, with personality and a dash of aspiration. So, if your background is automotive copywriting and you long to write about health and wellness, include your love of all things fitness in your LinkedIn "Headline" and "About" sections. People will see your tour of duty as an automotive industry copywriter in your profile's “Experience” section — and that's okay because it's your backstory!

Q. If I'm more of a casual person, is it alright to use a casual LinkedIn profile photo?

A. It depends. If by casual you mean business-casual or a nice, well-lit photo that a friend took — sure, that should be okay. But, first, consider the industry you want to work for. When I was in financial services, it was the type of environment where men would wear jackets and ties when clients were visiting the office, and jeans were frowned upon unless management declared a “Jeans Day.” If you want to write copy for a more conservative industry, you will have a better chance of winning the job if you look the part.

If you decide to spend money on a professional headshot, be sure to take a couple of clothing changes with you so you can, later, decide which of the resulting photos represent you best.

Q. Why is searching on LinkedIn so bleeping hard?

I agree it can be difficult and hope Microsoft (LinkedIn's owner since 2016) is doing something about it! From what I could tell, some of the AWAI program participants who were having trouble had small networks or a very new LinkedIn account, which meant that LinkedIn didn't "serve up" many people for them to connect with.

LinkedIn is all about the numbers. The more people you're connected with, the more second- and third-degree connections LinkedIn reveals to you. You’ll have more luck with LinkedIn's search function as your network grows, I promise.

I shared a LinkedIn search "cheat" with AWAI and created a short video showing how I use Google when I want to find people on LinkedIn. Several people tried it right away and said it worked for them, too.

Q. If I don't know the person I'm connecting with and can't think of anything to say about why I'm reaching out, is it okay to skip the "Add a note" (personal message) option?

Personal beats plain any day, so take time to write a note. Share something about you with a nod to what’s in their profile, such as: "Hello from it's-a-dry-heat Arizona. How's the weather in Chicago today? Would you like to connect? I hope so!"

Q. If my industry is large and the number of potential contacts to connect with is overwhelming, how can I drill down to a more manageable number of people?

You could look for people who are in a particular geographic area or those who work for specific companies. Or focus on your second-degree connections where you have a shared contact in common. If you want to keep things super-simple, connect with the first five people who come up in your search request!

How to Use Google for LinkedIn Searches

When LinkedIn's search feature isn't being helpful, I often use Google for my LinkedIn search. This short video shows you a "cheat" that works almost every time.

Q. Can I change my LinkedIn profile, from time to time, to make it appeal to different industries?

I don't see why not! You could consider it an A/B test, of sorts, where your profile is focused on one industry for three months and another for the next three. Or you could showcase your interest in more than one industry in a creative way in your "About" section, like this: I love writing about the health and wellness industry and also about muscle cars — go figure, right?

Q. What can I do in just a few minutes a day on LinkedIn? I don't want to get pulled down a rabbit hole.

We know social media can pull us in and away from more important priorities. Since LinkedIn's all about business, make your time on that platform business-focused, with a focused strategy that limits how much time you spend.

I'm on LinkedIn in the early morning for no longer than 10 minutes, and that gives me enough time to do several things, including check my "Home" tab's newsfeed — scrolling down the page to see what my connections are sharing and talking about. I also look in the "Notifications" tab to check for responses to something I shared. If I have time, I'll send a connection request out or share a status update of my own. Then I close LinkedIn and get on with my day.

Bonus round!

I'm on a bit of Loom (video) roll these days, where I enjoy creating quick snippets of information to help my fellow copywriters and creative pros. Here’s another video I created with the AWAI folks in mind, How to Find Pending Connection Requests in LinkedIn.

I enjoyed my time with AWAI. Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn if you want to grow your network (and be sure to tell me how you found me). Thanks again for the opportunity, Ilise!