LinkedIn just unwrapped a new feature that may be the social network’s best tool yet for freelance writers – a comprehensive company directory.
The Companies feature is a database of LinkedIn’s 26 million members that can be searched by company, geography or industry. Freelancers can use it to look up editors at umpteen publishers of newspapers, magazines and Websites in the United States and around the world, just as long as some portion of the staff is on LinkedIn.
The company directory is a potential goldmine of information. Instead of relying on out-of-date editorial listings in Writer’s Market or other market guides, freelancers can use LinkedIn to see who’s who at publications they want to pitch. And unlike Writer’s Market it’s free.
How to use the feature: Once you log onto LinkedIn, you’ll see the Companies directory tab on the main toolbar. Clicking on it will bring you to the Companies main page, where you can search for companies by industry, name or Zip code.
But the best part: if you identify yourself as a writer in your LinkedIn profile, the directory will automatically show a list of industries related to writing and editing. Click on any of the industry links – book publishing, newspapers, magazines, education, marketing and advertising, public relations, software – and you’ll see lists of all the companies in those particular industries that LinkedIn has in its database. Clicking on the Newspaper listing, for example, brought up 931 newspapers. Like everything else on LinkedIn, they’re ranked according to your LinkedIn network connections, so newspapers where you have a 1st degree connection come up first.
That’s a handy feature when it comes to pitching stories. First, you’ve got a great list of who’s got what position at a paper or magazine – again, if they subscribe to LinkedIn – that you can use for pitches. Or, if you see someone at a paper or magazine you want to pitch but don’t know and there’s another editor you do know, you could use your LinkedIn connection with the second editor to ask for an introduction to the first. Of course, you could do that without LinkedIn too.
If you click on a company name, such as The San Francisco Chronicle, for example, you’ll see a brief profile of the company, listings for any employee who’s on LinkedIn, new hires (with job titles), recent promotions, popular profiles, job listings, info about the company, career paths of employees (where they worked before and after, based on information that LI members included in their profiles) and some other stats.
Other uses of the Companies directory:
* Researching publishing markets that are new to you
* Looking for a job, which is what I think they set up the Companies directory for in the first place.
* Searching for sources, which is potentially so huge I think I’ll save it for a different blog post.
To read the article on LinkedIn’s company blog announcing the new service, click here.
If you experiment with the Companies directory and think of other ways that freelancers could use it, please share.