LinkedIn—Making The Most of Your Six Seconds

Image courtesy of cellardoorfilms WANA Commons...

Image courtesy of cellardoorfilms WANA Commons…

Happy Friday! Today Jenny Hansen is going to talk to you a little bit about LinkedIn…hey, she gave me cookies. Who can say no to COOKIES?

You might be wondering why to bother with a LinkedIn profile, even if you aren’t a NF author (for NF authors, LinkedIn is a must). For one reason, a lot of agents and publishers are there, so it’s a good place to connect professionally.

Also, many of us will do additional work to supplement our writing income, especially in the early years. LinkedIn can be vital for getting freelance work that pays the bills or even gives us a little extra spending money.

Finally, if we self-publish (which many of us will), we will need to hire a team of professionals—content editor, line editor, book cover designer, book interior designer, e-book formatter, web designers, etc. LinkedIn is a wonderful place to find endorsed professionals to be part of your publishing team. Thus LinkedIn really is more than just one more social media site. It can be a valuable tool in your writing success.

So I am shutting up now, namely to go have cookies for breakfast. Take it way, Jen!


Hey y’all! Yes, I bribed Kristen into letting me shake my Cowbell here at her place so we could all talk about LinkedIn.

[I just heard some of you writers groan: Another social media platform?!]

I know, I know. I’ve got critique partners who are worried their heads might explode. I’m already on Facebook, they whine. I just want to stay home and write in my pajamas. Why do I have to talk to people?

Because you do.

We all need to build a writing team to survive in this crazy business. Those of us who hang out at #myWANA with Kristen Lamb know We Are Not Alone, unless we want to be. The process of getting a book published requires a massive amount of teamwork.

LinkedIn will become a big part of your team-building once you understand how it works and how to navigate it like a rockstar.

The most important thing to remember?

You get two inches, or six seconds, to make your first impression.

(Get your mind out of the gutter! You’ve gotta hang out at More Cowbell for thoughts like that.)

Seriously, it’s a common saying in the business world. Get your most important point into the subject line and the first paragraph of an email because that’s all most people will read. Even as an author, we’re aware that we have anywhere from two paragraphs to two pages to engage an editor, agent or reader. Hook people quick, or they’re moving on.

The average resume or LinkedIn profile gets no more than 6 seconds to engage someone. To be fair, the average person is looking for different things than the recruiters I mention in the link above, but 6 seconds is still the average browse time.

What makes people scroll past your “top two inches” on LinkedIn?

1. Your picture.
It should be a clear, close, front-facing shot where you look friendly and attentive. Unless you work with kids or animals, there shouldn’t be anyone else in the picture with you. No spouses, no kids, NO hats.

2. Professional Summary
What are you doing now? What have you done in the past? By adding current and past positions to your LinkedIn profile, you get a quick summary of this in your top profile block. (I’ll show this below.)

3. Easy to remember LinkedIn address
Very few people remember to customize their LinkedIn address. will be easier to remember than One I can type from memory and share easily. And the other…I can’t, and won’t.

4. Multiple ways to get hold of you
If you don’t want to be called, you don’t need to put out your phone number. But you should have an email, blog, website or social media account like Twitter listed in your Contact Info. These things will also help update your status, if you set them up correctly, which is a really easy, passive way to stay at the top of your connections’ minds.

Let’s look at a few profiles so you see what I mean…

I’m a software trainer by day and one of the things I do is work with accountants who want to build their networks. Last year, I took a class through Accounting Today with marketing master, Eric Majchrzak (and was delighted to discover he was in sync with our WANA Mama, Kristen).

Here’s Eric’s profile:


If you were to click his Contact info button, you’d see his email, phone number, Twitter info and website. He fits all of the four criteria above (and he should, because he’s a marketing dude).

What about authors?

I picked a traditionally published author and a small press/indie author so you could see some good examples. (I’ve linked their names if you’d like to see their entire profile.)

Robin Lee Hatcher – Traditionally Published Author


I’d maybe like a closer picture of Robin, but otherwise she gets an A+. Inside her contact info, she has two emails, her website and her blog.

Amy Shojai – Blogger and Small Press/Indie Pub Author


Amy’s entire non-fiction platform focuses on animals so having her cat and dog with her (that’s Magical Dawg and Seren-Kitty) is appropriate. She also has her Twitter info, blog, website and radio show links in her contact info.

The one update I would make to Amy’s profile is the addition of her new thriller, LOST AND FOUND. It’s a smokin’ book and she should have it listed on her LinkedIn profile.

Just to recap on WHY the above are great examples:

  • They have a picture, blog, and other social media info.
  • They clearly list what that person is up to.
  • They’re friendly and engaging, yet professional.

Starting in April, I’ll be giving LinkedIn classes for WANA International, but if you need some LinkedIn info now, I’m teaching the following class at WANA Con

  • Course: LinkedIn – Your Professional Identity (The Cliffs Notes)
  • Time: Friday, February 22nd, 9 pm EST (that’s 6 pm for us on the West Coast)

We’re going to review topics like ”5 Things You Need To Know To Rock LinkedIn.” We’re also going to be looking more closely at LinkedIn profiles, what works well, and what could be improved. If LinkedIn has been making you want to hide under the covers, or if you’d simply like to know more, I hope you’ll join me next Friday night.

Special More Cowbell Offer:

List the URL to your LinkedIn profile, if you have one, down in the comments section. One winner will receive:

  • a summary of 4-5 profile changes that will yield better LinkedIn results
  • a 15 minute online Q&A session, one-on-one with yours truly

Do you use LinkedIn now? What questions do you have for Jenny? She’s at your service in the comments section!

About Jenny Hansen

By day, Jenny provides training and social media marketing for an accounting firm. By night she writes humor, memoir, women’s fiction and short stories. After 15 years as a corporate software trainer, she’s delighted to sit down while she works.

When she’s not at her personal blog, More Cowbell, Jenny can be found on Twitter at JennyHansenCA or at Writers In The Storm.

THANK YOU JENNY! As Jenny mentioned, she will be teaching at WANACon. Her classes are fabulous, so please join us this next weekend.

WANACon Registration

Again, here is where you can view the full conference schedule.

Sign up for BOTH DAYS of WANACon for a mere $125 (this includes ALL the parties and Surprise Pajama Sunday). Register HERE.

If you can only do one day? No problem! Registration is $75. Register HERE for DAY ONE or HERE for DAY TWO.

Ready to get an agent? Sign up for Agent Pitch Sessions HERE.

We hope to see you at WANACon and PAJAMACon. Seats are limited, so sign up asap.


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  1. Reblogged this on Wendy Reis Editing and commented:
    She’s right, you will need to hire a few professionals, even if you self-publish. A sloppy book cover, messed up e-book formatting, and lack of editing will all SCREAM “novice”.

    1. Thanks for the reblog, Wendy! There are tons of self-pub professionals and some rockstar groups on the topic over on LinkedIn. Are there any you particularly recommend?

  2. For real? No hats? What if hats are my thing? I’m not kidding, Jenny. If Mother Nature gave me great hair, I wouldn’t have to do the hat thing — but now, I’m kind of known for them. I wear them all the time. Does that work like Amy’s pets?

    1. I knew someone was gonna kvetch about this… 🙂

      I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen men who are losing their hair put on a hat for their LinkedIn photo – it’s simply not professional. But…if your brand is “funky author” and you MUST wear a hat, just make sure it doesn’t obscure your face. Do we have a deal?

      1. Deal. Face not obscured. And not kvetching. Just curious. 😉 Also, not bald.

        1. ROFL…you’re way too pretty to obscure, Renee. 🙂

          1. Blushing. Thanks Jenny. I am crooked, though. Hmmm. Maybe it’s time for a new shot.

  3. Great post! I’ve Tweeted it and put it in my LinkedIn update. I’ve used LinkedIn for a while and know that I got some work from it–but I’d love to get more. Here’s my link for the draw for a critique:

    1. Wonderful, Heather! I put your name in the hat. I’m so glad to hear LinkedIn is working for you. I’ve gotten tons of work from it too. 🙂

  4. Great post, Jenny and very timely. I am in the research phase of building my platform and also the scatter shot stage of marketing my new book. This was helpful.

    1. Fantastic, Teri! I highly recommend you add LinkedIn to your arsenal and join a few groups that interest you while you’re there. The groups are where tons of great learning happens. 🙂

  5. Great information here, Jenny. I am on LinkedIn, but quite honestly, that’s about it. I’m just there. Sitting around doing nothing. I’ve always suspected that there might be something more I could be doing aside from occasionally clicking the “Accept Invitation to Connect.” So, thank you for pointing me in the right direction!.

    My LinkedIn link:*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1&trk=spm_pic

    1. You’re very welcome, Barbara! Stick with me…we’ll have you enjoying LinkedIn in now time. 🙂

  6. I was just wondering this week whether I should have a LinkedIn Account and wow….into my inbox you popped. Thank you, excellent advice.

    1. I’ve found it to be a fantastic platform. It lends itself to both active and passive use. What I mean by that is that I can do a lot of it by email in the weeks when I just don’t have time to spend there, or I can get more actively involved whenever I have time.

  7. I tend to be a Linked In lurker more than a poster, but I find lurking in the same hangouts as the traditional publishing to be hugely informative. On the one hand, many of these people are so arrogant it makes me want to scream. On the other hand, there are many amongst them who are in the same boat the rest of us are, genuinely trying to figure out this new indie publishing/e-publishing landscape and how to remain profitable in a changing world. Thanks Kristen and Jenny for another informative post.

    1. You’re very welcome, Anna! And groups that are high on the arrogant scale tend to be put on “No email” or “Weekly Digest” for me. As you look around and interact with people, you will find the groups that work well for you.

  8. Re-posted this. I originally began with only linkedin. It worked for a bit and I made some great contacts but I think I need to update.

    1. Yvonne, one of the things I like about LinkedIn is that it lends itself well to growing and changing with your needs.

  9. Thanks for the great info Jenny. I’m sure your class is going to rock!

    And I can’t resist a chance to win something, so here’s the link to my LinkedIn profile:

    1. You’re in the hat (okay, the drawing) and I hope you win. Regardless, I’ll scope out your profile and beg you to maybe let me use it in next Friday’s class. 🙂

  10. Love LinkedIn! But I have to admit, you have brought up some very good points that I haven’t thought about before. Now I’m off to update my profile! Thanks, Jenny!

    1. Groovy, Dawn! Updating is GOOD. Space them out over a week or so in order to pop up in your contacts’ status updates over a period of time. It’s tempting to just do them all at once, but you’re giving up some marketing mileage that way. 🙂

  11. Wow, that is great info, Jenny! here’s my LinkedIn profile:

    Now I’ll go back to studying it for problems. LOL!

    1. Study it for good parts first, and beef those up. THEN you can study it for problem. 😉

    • mitzireinbold on February 15, 2013 at 10:09 am
    • Reply

    Jenny, you made me go in and look at my profile. Now I have to do some updating….and get a better picture. Thanks.

    1. I hadn’t included all my books, because they weren’t NF, but I fixed that today. D’oh!

      1. Excellent, Pauline! You’ve got to have your fiction in there. 🙂 Be sure to also include any awards – when you do that, they’ll show up in your contacts’ status updates page.

        1. I read your advice about spreading out the updates after I’d done it all. LOL oh well. At least my fiction is all there now and I didn’t have my other two NF books up there! *head bang*

    2. A good picture is key, Mitzi. My advice is to look it over, make a plan and update it over several days. The more you show up in people’s status updates, the better. 🙂

  12. Well, Jenny, I blush to include my LinkedIn profile–because it is not very good–yet!

    1. That’s OK…we all start somewhere. Just update a few things at a time, and you’ll love the results.

    2. Congratulations, Elizabeth! picked you as one of my winners. (Announcement is below.)

  13. I had to remove the cobwebs and blow off the dust on my LinkedIn profile, but here it is: I keep meaning to close the account because I am never there. I simply cannot imagine another social media network I have to keep up with. I truly enjoy what I’m doing now, but adding another makes my introverted self want to crawl up into the corner of the closet and mutter, “Redrum, redrum.” So make me eat words, Jenny.

    1. LOL…All I’ll say is that LinkedIn can be pretty passively maintained until you’re ready to spend some time on it. Also, with you looking at being a hybrid author, the self-pub talent and information over there is incredible. 😀

      How was that? Keep the account and just check on it via email for a while.

  14. Wow–I haven’t paid much attention to LinkedIn lately, but thanks for the shout out. Maybe that’s why I got an email recently from an agent . . . And you’re right about adding LOST AND FOUND to the profile. Doh! Probably should include the several that are now audio books, too.

    1. Include it all, Amy! You’ve already seen how well your fiction is being received by your “pet tribe.” (Soooo proud of you!)

  15. The changing your url thingy was something I did not know you could do. It’s not a readily seen edit button, but I’ve fixed that now.

    1. Fantastic, Anna! I agree that you’re got to be looking for that setting, but it’s a great (and easy) thing to customize. Your link looks FAB.

  16. terrific and practical – I made some changes – Thank you!

    1. Good job, Mike! You’re in the drawing. 🙂

  17. Jenny, here’s mine It’s all about the day job.

    1. Mine’s about the day job too. I’m actually in the process of setting up a “writing only” account. It’s a good thing to show the steps in class. 🙂

    • annerallen on February 15, 2013 at 12:24 pm
    • Reply

    Excellent advice. I’d neglected LinkedIn until recently. I find their groups tend to be a little tedious, but it’s still important to be there to show your professionalism.

    1. Anne, some of the groups ARE tedious, but some are really great…supportive and informative. You’ve just got to look around a bit. Thanks for taking the time to comment!

  18. Bear in mind that LinkedIn has gone the Facebook route and will put your name associated with products as recommendations. You can change this in your settings and it’s very important that you do especially if you write NF, or if like me you are in a profession that requires your impartiality.

    1. That is an excellent point. Thanks for the nudge – I just added that to my to-do list of things to mention at WANACon. 🙂

    • Jim on February 15, 2013 at 2:11 pm
    • Reply

    Great stuff, Jenny, now it’s time to tweak the profile …

    1. Hey Jim! One of my favorite first writing friends on LinkedIn!! I met Jim in one of my groups, y’all and he ROCKS. 🙂

  19. Hi Kristen & Jenny,
    Great post chock full of information. This post made me go back and tweak my LinkedIn account.
    Here’s my link: I love to win prizes. 🙂
    I’ve made some great connections and will be guest blogger.

    1. Wonderful, Tracy! I’m glad you liked it. I’ll cross my fingers for you for the win. 🙂

  20. Ok question for you: What if what you want to be doing doesn’t synch up with what you are doing? Like if I want to be a writer why would my sales management matter? Could a linkedin profile hinder me at all in that instance?

    1. Jess, it’s a simple matter to combine them both if you’re willing to come out of the closet that way. There are tons and tons of bells and whistles over there like “Awards” and “Publications.” If you prefer to keep them separate, just make two profiles. 🙂

  21. Gosh I haven’t done anything with my LinkedIn account 🙁
    I have two connections because I’m too chicken about networking.

  22. There is a solar portable generator capable of recharging an electric automobile anywhere there is sunshine. I will assume that the same solar portable generator will provide electricity for a wall air-conditioning unit and a wide screen television set and a home entertainment center with surround sound and of course a desktop home computer with Internet access. Kristen, the world could run out of oil and gasoline could come to an end; you would still be able to hold your worldwide on-line conference on the Internet. One of the comments about the Ozarks Writers’ League (OWL) was that after you drove to Branson, Missouri and paid your ten American dollars (back then); you have to sit through speakers you already heard during the Missouri Writers’ Guild conference. I did not care because I got to eat at an A&W fast-food restaurant. I like the fresh root beer and onion rings with the bacon double cheeseburger. When I had money saved up, I ate at the campus restaurant and I was able to sit and I was able to discuss writing with other writers. Knowing I was discussing writing with an English Literature professor who drove there from the State of Iowa because he was writing a trilogy like The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings with talking and walking trees was very inspirational for me, a college dropout and quitter. In the future I plan to have Greenwich Pizza deliver a large ultimate overload pizza and the family-size lasagna supreme pan for the two days conference. I am looking forward to it someday. I like the idea of getting professional to promote on the Internet.

  23. My profile is in the top 5% most viewed on LinkedIn. The website just told me so earlier this week. 😉

    I break the rule regarding photo – my kids are in the photo, and it’s a casual, comfortable face shot, rather than a stuffy one. My feeling on this is that there are a TON of “stuffed shirt” images on LinkedIn. Lots of suit and tie, or business dress, on a professional background of some sort. They look something like passport photos. And they don’t draw the eye, nor do they engage people.

    If you’re looking to get hired as CFO of XYZ Pharmaceuticals, that’s probably the image you want.

    If you’re a writer, you probably want a photo which shows energy and looks different. Kristen’s “Hello” photo on her blog, and her Facebook photo, are good examples.

    So, apparently, is mine (it’s the one I am posting with here, too), at least based on the number of people checking my profile out. 😉

    1. Looking at your photo, Kevin (cute kids BTW), I’m guessing that your face being very focal and centered is part of that popularity. You’re front-facing, centered, smiling…nice job! I’m also guessing you’ve got a smokin’ profile experience-wise, or you wouldn’t be getting that attention.

      I say bravo whenever a writer is getting the Top 5%…keep it up! 🙂

    2. I think the picture needs to be inviting. When I did the photo shoot for my professional pictures, I made a lot of jokes so that all the pictures were me laughing, the smiles truly reaching my eyes. I wanted to convey “Hey, I know social media terrifies you, but we are going to break all the rules, play in the mud and have FUN! COME WITH ME!”

      1. And I LOVE those photos. Do you think your photographer would come to California for fresh veggies and cookies?? 🙂 LOL


    You’re a very clued-up lady, just quietly, aren’t you, Jenny! 🙂
    My linkedin profile came in very handy when I won a spot on a course with the Lawson Writing Academy (last year, on the WITS blog), and the only way the tutor could find me was my profile and contact details were on linkedin! Nowadays of course I have a proper website too 🙂

    1. I didn’t realize that, Yvette. That is so fun! And it’s paid off for you this time too because you came up as one of the winners on 🙂

      I’ve already sent you a connect invite. Congratulations!

    • Joanna Aislinn on February 16, 2013 at 7:45 am
    • Reply

    Jenny, you and Kristen have given me serious reason to rethink the LinkedIn thing, as well as another angle which I never considered in the first place. One I’m even equipped to handle like…yesterday! Thanx for this post and for getting Kristen those cookies so you’d serve us all! 😉

    1. I love it, Joanna! You made my whole day. It’s nice when the cookies pay off for more than one person. 🙂

  25. Jenny, this is great information. (I think) I’ve just given myself a customized url- who knew!
    Looking forward to more during WANACon- I’m about to sign up!

    1. Can’t wait to see you there, Tracy! Please let me know if you’d like me to use your profile during the session. I’d be happy to if it wouldn’t make you uncomfortable to be in the spotlight for a few minutes. 🙂

      • Joanna Aislinn on February 18, 2013 at 10:18 am
      • Reply

      Now you’ve got me wanting to bake… and it’s too cold to walk them cookies off, dang it!

  26. I really need to pay attention to LinkedIn.
    Thanks for the invaluable tips, Jenny!

    1. You’re welcome! And just give it a little attention over a couple weeks…you’ll be shocked at how far a little bit goes. 🙂

  27. It had been suggested to take many still pictures while you are still young and attractive to use for things like LinkedIn. Politicians use it for the name and face recognition importance on print displays. It might be bordering on deceptive advertising if you get a job needing a younger candidate.

    1. Daniel, a lot of people use the “every 5 years” rule – that’s the max number of years recommended between online/website photos.

      It’s tempting to put ourselves up when we’re younger/thinner/taller but if you meet someone in person and they are shocked at the change, you haven’t done yourself any favors.

      1. Five years rule, I have heard it before and forgot. Someone else suggested to get good looking models with great bodies on the cover and nobody will care what the author of the book looks like. Maybe book covers could be used for profile pictures of self-promotion instead of the five years ago look. Thank you for the insight on my future. Now, I just have to write the novels. I know how to be super popular on the Internet. I might even get a Facebook account someday.

        1. LOL.

          1. I have always believed that the Internet was going to be my super highway to achieve my goals. You ladies have given me a rest stop and a place to get fuel. Driving the lonely highway heading for anywhere is not so futile and pointless. I can see tomorrow from mostly rainy days of the past.

  28. Hi Jenny, Great post! I have done almost zero with LinkedIn. I’m on it, and that’s about all I can say. I’m usually pretty good about making the profile decent, but I haven’t tried making any connections (beyond WANA Mama Kristen 😉 ).

    Where do you suggest books should be listed? Under Work Experience or Projects or…?

    1. Oh, and what about works in progress, should they be listed? Or just published works? (I’ve seen authors do both, so I’m not sure about the pros or cons of that.)

    2. Jami, this is a personal preference. Some people add them under Publications and some people list multiple projects under the publishing house they’re contracted with. I like seeing them as publications myself because I like knowing what people have out there.

      That being said, if you have a ton of titles, sometimes it’s nice to consolidate them into Projects as series.

      Oh, and on the pub vs. non-pub thing, I think you should have your blog and anything published up. Then if you want to list works you’re shopping, add them in the status or as projects. Still, there’s no hard and fast rules on this so look around and see what you like.

      You might dig Rebecca Forster’s profile – she’s pretty eclectic like you are. 🙂

    3. Oh, and p.s. THANKS! I spend so much time loving your posts that it’s nice to return the favor. 🙂

      1. Aww, thank YOU! 🙂

  29. Linkedin is pretty cool. But, you’re there to network, right? Then why does the site penalize you if you try to connect with too many people? Admittedly, I did go a little haywire at first, but it was well-intentioned. Now, I can’t add anyone new without knowing their email address.

    1. LinkedIn is a business site, mostly populated by professionals of various sorts. They prevent random connecting because they want the connections to actually matter, to be relevant. This is not twitter. If you regularly spam your connections with announcements that mean nothing to them, you will quickly find yourself disconnected. I have over 500 connections on LinkedIn, which isn’t huge, but isn’t bad for that site, either. Almost all of those connections are people who asked ME to connect with THEM, because they found what I was talking about interesting and relevant.

      If you want connections, get involved, be knowledgeable about your topic, engage with other users on group threads. Be polite – “don’t be a jerk” applies more there than some other social networks. I have gained a TON of insight into the larger publishing industry through my LinkedIn connections, which I suspect will be very valuable down the road. I don’t sell a ton of books there, but I have made connections with other value.

      1. Kevin, what groups have you found the most value in? I’m always interested in this because I find the best groups, just by asking. 🙂

          • Kevin on February 18, 2013 at 3:35 am
          • Reply

          One really good one is: Ebooks, Ebook Readers, Digital Books and Digital Content. Lots of interesting discussions on the publishing industry. Some publishing execs, other indie writers, and publishing consultants in there as a big mix. Also a self publishing sub-group there that’s good. Open group, but very well moderated.

          Fiction Writers Guild has a VERY poor “signal to noise” ratio – but sometimes has really interesting discussions. I’ve dropped to weekly digest with them, but still get into some good stuff there occasionally.

          Tools of Change for Publishing has less discussion material, but a good place to hear interesting news bits.

          Those are some of my top “industry” groups. 😉 How about you?