How I Connected With My Dream Editor on LinkedIn – With This One Tweak

By Lisa Baker

I’ve built my entire writing career on networking.

My first professional clips were for a friend who got a job as a website editor. He loved my writing so much that when he became an editor at a magazine, he gave me assignments there.

When he left the magazine to write a book and freelance, he continued to refer me clients when his writing schedule was full.

When I got back into writing after a long break, my first big clip came from a friend in a Facebook group who just happened to be an editor at a national magazine.

I even got a magazine article assignment once after I met an editor at a bridal shower.

The more serious I got about sending queries to magazines, the more I realized how valuable it is to have a connection first. I knew my ideas and writing were good — the Freelance Writer’s Den Mothers kept telling me so — but I wasn’t getting results.

I wasn’t even getting responses.

When I sent an idea to an editor after making a personal connection first, I got the assignment. When I emailed an editor cold, I got no response. It was that simple.

But it never occurred to me that I could make connections through any path other than sheer dumb luck, until Linkedin made that connection for me.

And it only took one small change to my Linkedin profile.

How I fixed my sad, old LinkedIn profile

In many ways, my Linkedin profile was a perfect example of what not to do in social media.

I’ve got a terrible picture, a sparse work history, and only a handful of listed skills.

I kept reading in the Den how valuable Linkedin for networking with editors and clients, so I knew I needed to spruce up my Linkedin presence.

I didn’t change the picture, because I didn’t have a better one. I didn’t add much to the work history, because I was lazy. I really only did one thing: I changed my job title.

My old title said “Writer.” Generic and boring, but accurate, right?

Since I’d decided on a niche and style of writing to pursue, it was easy to create a title that more accurately reflected what I was looking for.

I changed it to “Freelance Parenting Writer.”

I didn’t realize it at the time, but by including keywords that editors or clients might search for, I made it a lot more likely that the right people would want to connect with me.

You can do this even if you don’t have a topical niche. Try using your location (“Atlanta Freelance Writer”) or the type of projects you specialize in (“Freelance Resume Writer”).

What would your ideal clients search for? Use that.

Getting connected 

Changing my title had a result I didn’t expect: Linkedin connection requests started pouring in.

Okay, not exactly pouring. But I started getting several connection requests a week, which was 100% more than the zero I had been getting. Clearly, something had changed.

Many of the people requesting to connect with me were strangers to me. But since I still didn’t have many connections, I ignored that fact: I always said yes.

I figured it’s like the six degrees of Kevin Bacon game — the more people you know, the more likely you are to find the connection you need.

Searching on LinkedIn  

Meanwhile, I kept doing what I’d been doing: searching for the names of editors to query at my favorite magazines.

I quickly discovered that Linkedin was one of the fastest and most accurate ways to find those names.

I’d search for a name from a masthead to make sure the job title was still accurate, or I’d search for job titles like “associate editor + [name of publishing company]“. When you search in Linkedin, it gives priority to people who are in your network, so you can see instantly whether you already have a connection to the person you want to reach.

And one day, I stumbled across the connection I’d been looking for.

I’d been pitching a newsstand magazine for several months with no response, and I was looking for a name to pitch in the custom content division. But when I searched for “custom content editor” + [the publication name], I got a long list of results — all of which, Linkedin told me, were only one degree of connection away from me.

Did I know someone who worked for my dream magazine?

I clicked to see who the connection was. She wasn’t someone I knew, but I recognized her name. I’d seen it in my email a few days before — when she had requested to connect with me.

I clicked on her profile, telling myself she was just probably another freelance writer. But she wasn’t.

She was an associate editor. At the very magazine I was trying to break into.

And she had requested to connect with me! Why? We didn’t have any connections in common.

Then I remembered: my updated job title. She must have searched for “freelance parenting writer.” Which could only mean one thing.

She was looking for writers.

Making the “warm” connection

I knew I had to take advantage of this connection. But how?

After some thought, I decided to send her an InMail message through Linkedin.

She had just connected with me, which meant she was active on Linkedin. Her inmail box probably wasn’t as crowded as her email, so I’d have a better chance of a response.

I thought, what was the worst that could happen? She’d ignore me, just like every other editor who was ignoring me, and I’d be no worse off.

“Thanks for connecting with me here on Linkedin!” I wrote. “Are you looking for more freelance writers? I have several ideas that I think would be a great fit for [name of your magazine]! May I send you some pitches?”

To break this down:

  • I kept it professional.
  • I reminded her that she had initiated this connection — I wasn’t some random person messaging her out of the blue.
  • I avoided open-ended questions or requests that would require work on her part.
  • I focused on making a connection and offering her something specific.
  • And I made it easy for her: all she needed to do was say yes.

Still, I didn’t really expect a response. After all, I’d been emailing editors constantly for months, and not one of them had responded to me.

But this one did.

Striking gold

She wrote me back the next morning. “I am looking for more writers,” she said. “Please send pitches to my email” — and she gave me her email.

It was that easy.

Fortunately, I had a lot of pitches ready to send (some of which I’d already sent to other editors at her magazine), so I sent them all in one vast multi-pitch email.

For the subject line, I wrote, “Pitches you requested on Linkedin,” to make sure my email didn’t get lost in her overcrowded inbox.

Aain, she wrote back immediately. This time, she thanked me for my ideas and asked if I could pitch three ideas on a specific topic.

In other words, she told me what she’s looking for right now.

Pitch three ideas for a feature in my dream magazine? Of course I could do that (thanks, 4-Week J-School). I sent it a few days later.

At that point, the holidays and the usual glacial response of editors set in, so I’m still waiting to hear whether I’ll get the assignment. But just getting a response was a huge step forward for me.

And it’s not like I’m getting bored while I’m waiting. I’ve got a lot more editors to stalk — uh, I mean connect with — on Linkedin.

Lisa C. Baker is a parenting writer and blogger based in Atlanta, Georgia. Check out her new blog on How to Be Supermom.

Need more social-media tips? Join me and Renegade Writer’s Linda Formichelli tomorrow at 12 PST/3 EST for the first session of our next Freelance Writers Den 4-week bootcamp, How to Use Social Media to Get Freelance Gigs. Just click below to see the course schedule and all the details. Registration will close tomorrow, when class begins.

How to Use Social Media to Get Freelance Gigs

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50 comments on “How I Connected With My Dream Editor on LinkedIn – With This One Tweak
  1. Thanks for the tips you’ve provided. I’ve been going absolutely crazy trying to figure out how to successfully use LinkedIn. I’ve had an account for nearly a year and I’ve barely touched it for the simple reason that I didn’t know where to begin. I know what I will be doing tomorrow!
    Amelia Grogan recently posted..Confessions of a List-a-holic

  2. John Soares says:

    Very smart use of LinkedIn Lisa. I made LinkedIn a priority about two years ago and I’ve gotten several high-quality freelance writing assignments through it, primarily by having a professional and detailed profile and actively connecting with editors and other employees at higher education/textbook companies (my niche).

    A LinkedIn profile is also a writer’s online professional resume. My LinkedIn URL is listed right under my name on my business card, more prominently than my writing website.
    John Soares recently posted..My Criteria for Keeping a Print Book

    • Carol Tice says:

      That’s very interesting positioning, John! And here I was so proud I finally have a card with all 3 of my URLs on it this blog, the Den, and my writer site caroltice.com…but probably I should have my LI one too.

  3. Thanks for these tips, Lisa, LinkedIn is the next big social media thing I’ve got to get my head around. If I can do for it what I did with my sad Twitter account (from 30 followers to about 500 in a month or two!), then your article makes me think LinkedIn could be a lot more profitable!
    Phil Williams recently posted..Freelance Famine: coping with New Year

    • Lisa Baker says:

      Thanks, Phil! I’d love to know what you did with Twitter. That’s a platform I can’t get my head around! — I’m hoping to learn more at the social media bootcamp.

  4. Tracy Oeser says:

    This is fabulous, thanks for posting it! I had made sure to fine tune my website header but never even thought about LinkedIn. I’ll be changing it right away!
    Tracy Oeser recently posted..Our Friend Is Missing! Where are you Customer Service?

  5. Terri H says:

    Great tips, Lisa. I definitely need to work on my Linkedin title. Right now, my title says Freelance Writer, Journalist, Copywriter, Blogger. Perhaps I need to get more specific.

    It’s definitely a great idea to reach out to editors on Linkedin. It’s actually been something I’ve been a bit afraid of. Perhaps it’s time I give it a try.
    Terri H recently posted..How to Stay Motivated: Don’t Get Glad. Get Mad

  6. Thanks for sharing these great tips Lisa.

    What I really like is the fact that you think about what the editor is thinking at every stage of the pitching process (i.e. you consider what his/her needs are).
    Kevin Carlton recently posted..Get your website in shape for 2013 with these 3 New Year copywriting tips

  7. Cheryl Bryan says:

    Great tips, Lisa. Thanks for all those details of the process you took! And what a great example of an aggressive use of LinkedIn! Best wishes on landing those assignments.
    Cheryl Bryan recently posted..How to Cut Your Article Down to Size

  8. Excellent post. Thanks for the tips. Now I’m over to LI to change my title. :)

  9. Amandah says:

    Thanks you for this inspiring post. I’ve been revising my LinkedIn profile here and there, especially since they changed the look of and feel of “profiles.” One of my goals for 2013 is to do more marketing utilizing LinkedIn. Sometimes, I struggle with the title because as a freelance writing, I write various writings from blog copywriting to bios. I’d also like to do more creative and ghost writing. But one thing at a time.
    Amandah recently posted..One Simple Lesson Will Boost Your Non-Profit Organization’s Donations and Support

    • Lisa says:

      If that’s your goal, you definitely shouldn’t miss the social media bootcamp!

      I know what you mean about struggling to define your niche. I finally decided to just pick one thing and run with it and keep telling myself that I can change it eventually if I get bored. :) It’s made marketing a LOT easier to have a clearly defined specialty! And of course you can always have multiple specialties too — but I think it’s easier to market one at a time.
      Lisa recently posted..Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Toddlers!

  10. Amel says:

    Thank you for this helpful article. One of my goals for 2013 is to create a LinkedIn profile that helps me connect with people needing writers and translators in my niche. Reading your experience drives home the fact that I need to make this a priority.
    Amel recently posted..Should You Write for Free if You Don’t Have Clips?

    • Lisa Baker says:

      What was encouraging to me about this whole experience was how such a small change made a big difference. My Linkedin profile is still pretty bad. :) I haven’t had the time to really rework it yet! I think it’s easy to wait till we have time to do EVERYTHING and end up never doing anything. Better to spend 5 minutes here and there making little changes!
      Lisa Baker recently posted..Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Toddlers!

      • Carol Tice says:

        It’s so true…I have a post coming up about everything I do wrong on this blog.

        But if you have something valuable, and you do even a few things right, you can make things happen. ;-)

  11. Good one Lisa,

    Excellent timing also.

    I have to say my LinkedIn profile today is in the same shape that yours was. I’ll have to save this post so I can tighten up in that department.

    With so many social media platforms how do you find time to do something on all of them?
    Darnell Jackson recently posted..Alex Jones is crazy, like a fox.

  12. Tom Bentley says:

    Lisa, you did get a break of sorts by having an editor come to you (after your strategic title change), but you did the most important thing: you acted on that break, quickly and cleverly. You immediately demonstrated that you are a pro, and that you could do something for that editor (and obviously, do something for your writing work as well).

    I think it’s a great example of being bold enough to take the reins in hand; good things come of taking action. And once you do that kind of thing a few times, it becomes second nature. (I’m still working on that.) Good work!
    Tom Bentley recently posted..Gertrude Stein’s Mustache (or Goodbye 2012)

  13. Jovell says:

    I love it! Thanks for the tip Lisa! I have always been wondering how else to tweak my LinkedIn profile. I don’t have a lot of connections and I don;t spend so much time there either unlike in Facebook and Twitter because of my other blog. The advices in ebooks and other sites I’ve read about LinkedIn are almost always the same. But yours is greatly unique! Thanks very much. I hope we can connect on LinkedIn and you’ll see my profile (job title) tweaked as per your tip. :)
    Jovell recently posted..Top 2 Kinds Of Sites To Market Your Business Blog This 2013

  14. Ken Muise says:

    Great LinkedIn tips. I’ve just come back from the site after making a lot of changes/fixes that I got from this post. It always seems like I’m behind the curve on something! lol…

    Thanks.
    Ken Muise recently posted..Want More Customers? Businesses that Blog More Often Acquire More New Customers!

    • Carol Tice says:

      I love how readers are putting the tips in this one right into action! You may be surprised at the results — I’ve heard back from so many writers who start getting nibbles right away once they get more keywords into their profile.

  15. Lisa, I hope you’ll hear from the editor soon and I’m headed to linkedin to add more keywords to my profile
    Ali | Writers Blog recently posted..5 Little-Known Reasons Why Writers Should Use Gmail

  16. Erica says:

    Lisa, awesome story! I love it. It’s a great example of how taking action will get more results than hanging back and polishing over and over again. And, you’ve given me some ideas on sprucing up my own LI title. Thanks! (and good luck)
    Erica recently posted..Readers and Writers: Two Sides of the Same People

  17. Natalie says:

    This is fantastic advice and I wanted to take a moment to thank you for putting it together. I recently joined LinkedIn and was initially confused what its purpose was. I wasn’t sure how it could help me. After researching it a bit more, and stumbling across your blog, I’m sure that it could help improve my lack of a solid social standing on the internet.

    I simply wrote “writer” as my title as well. I will implement my niche as recommended and get to work on polishing my profile.

    Thanks again for your tips : )
    Natalie recently posted..My Goals for the New Year

  18. Even though it’s massive, LinkedIn is still seen as an “underdog” in landing clients and relationships. Next week I’m starting my strategy to gain “expert” status to build a community/audience.

    There’s tons of great business peeps out there w/o FB like fluff, so I’m excited :D
    Joe Cassandra recently posted..Art of Salesmanship 2 of 4 : The Crystal Ball Effect

    • Carol Tice says:

      That is what I LOVE about LI — nobody posts, “I love tequila and to par-tayyy!” like so many do on Twitter or FB. There are no b.s.-ers to wade through…it’s all business.

  19. Phil says:

    I hate to be a sourpuss, but my guess is that moving the networking task from email to social media is only going to work for so long.

    Busy people don’t answer their email because they get way too many emails.

    They don’t return phone calls because too many people call them.

    It’s only a matter of time until they feel the same way about their social media accounts, if they don’t already.

    My guess might be that the solution will eventually be agents, who can serve as a screening device for the editors. The editor still needs writers, and will look to the agent to separate the wheat from the chaff. The editor will talk to the agent, because they chance of finding the writers they want will be much higher.

    Writers will probably rebel against paying agents for this specialized task, but most are probably already spending much or most of their time on sales and client management, so what’s the difference?

    • Carol Tice says:

      I don’t agree on the social media thing.

      Here’s what gives social media an advantage over email: An email demands a response in a way that a social media post does not.

      I follow 400 people on Twitter, but when they post messages they are not disappointed if I don’t respond to what they tweeted. It’s an optional thing. Which is why people love it.

  20. Paolo says:

    I learned changing my profile and even getting involved with some discussions or starting your own helps with LinkedIn skills and connections. What I did find though is lots of these trade magazines have a list of the editing staff with various names and titles. I get titles like editorial director, executive director, managing editor, and associate editor. Which is the right one to send a pitch to?

    • Carol Tice says:

      It depends on the publication and what you’re pitching them…a managing or articles editor is always a good place to start. You can always call the publication and ask who takes queries about the topic you want to pitch, too.

      • Paolo says:

        Thanks, Carol. It’s just that with so many titles, you never know who crosses over. I had a few cases where a pitch had to go through a few channels just to get to the right person. The good thing is the email channels get copied to me so the gatekeepers acknowledge who sent it in the first place.
        The better news yet is, I’m getting a whole lot more relevant connections with local networking with people I never knew had these connections. I received a copywriter offer already through one of my connections in town, and we already met in person. They mention through my connections that they get tired of flooding resumes and writers who don’t know what they’re doing, and charge enormous rates. I recall you saying charge at least $100 an hour depending on what the writing job is. This client actually wants a higher paid writer because they find those are more confident in their work. They already had too many bad experiences with paid writers on both ends of the extreme. Sure they save money with lower paid writers, but the qualifications are not just there, and they end up spending too much money on time wasted.
        It certainly does help to have the right connections who’ll put in a good word for you. It’s not about finding a good writer. It’s about finding the right writer.

  21. Lisa says:

    Update: I just got the assignment letter!!!!
    Lisa recently posted..10 Laundry Hacks to Make You Supermom

  22. Elizabeth says:

    Thanks Carol,

    Great advice. A few small changes to a LinkedIn profile does generate results, but some editors have not responded when I reached out. But after reading your article, I would like try again using your advice, letting them know I like the magazine, or an article they have written. I find though, if they are not part of your network, right away you are asked how do you know this person. There is the friend ‘option,’ but if you select that, I am thinking they may get upset because they don’t know you. Still, I will be optimistic!
    Elizabeth recently posted..Bittersweet

    • Carol Tice says:

      Elizabeth, once you join LinkedIn for Journalists and get the Premium level, you don’t have to go through that and pick a way you ‘know’ them, and you can InMail as many people as you want in a month. Well worth it.

      I agree – whenever someone says I’m their friend or I know them from some company I’ve never interacted with, I just delete.

  23. Elizabeth says:

    Sorry, I noticed my story got attached automatically to my post. I hadn’t meant to do that.
    Elizabeth recently posted..Bittersweet

  24. Rob McNelis says:

    Love your writing style. LinkedIn is a great tool for this stuff.

    Side note… Right now, I’m focused on generating traffic. Do you use any strategies other than content marketing? Curious to hear your answer.

    Rob
    Rob McNelis recently posted..Ain’t worried ’bout nothin’

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