Using LinkedIn To Find Technical Writing Contract Work

I’ve had some reservations about LinkedIn (http://www.linkedin.com/in/ivanwalsh) and didn’t join up until last year. Most of the technical writers I spoke to didn’t seem to get much return on the site and looked elsewhere. I should add that most of these were job-hunting and looking to make quick connections. For them it didn’t work.

Does LinkedIn Help Find Contract Work?

For me, of the three main Social Media networks, (Facebook and Twitter the others) I’ve got the most returns from LinkedIn. I didn’t find a job – but I wasn’t looking for one – though I made very good connections. Much deeper than on Facebook.

Someone asked me during the week what they were doing wrong on LinkedIn. I don’t think they were doing anything wrong per se but maybe the approach was a bit hit and miss. I’ve joined over forty groups but now focus on five only. The returns are higher.

They also made the point on one of the LinkedIn groups that they’ve found work by teaming up with 2 other people (software developer and web designer) as this approach seemed to work better.

I think the point he was making is that if you’re ‘just a tech writer’ it’s easy to get fobbed off – “we don’t need any tech docs right now, thanks.”

But, AS A TEAM, he found work in areas outside his usual network, for example in:

  • Government contracting, e.g. proposal development. Found this from a ‘non-IT’ person he met in the Chamber of Commerce who needed a helping hand. Now he has a foot in the door, re RFP work.
  • Direct mail (i.e. copywriting, the type of work he usually wouldn’t have looked at (or got) before)
  • Content Creation – they need an intranet and he got the job as the content developer. But the job came thru the programmer friend.

Someone also made the point that technical writers should focus on specialist areas rather than general IT. For example, developing content for mobile devices, developing content for industries, e.g. Energy, and looking at where they can dominate an area rather than being AN Other tech writer.

For those thinking about LinkedIn, I’d suggest joining a few groups, ask questions and help out. Once you’ve built some credibility, folks will start emailing you offline and asking questions, sharing ideas, looking for help.

Trust is key. I do my best to chip in and share what I know. Most people pick up on that (I hope!) and the returns for me are visits to the site, email signups and projects I can do at home.

Over to you.

What’s been your experience with LinkedIn?