As long-standing members know, WTS is all about access, and WTS-LA has been particularly fortunate in bringing some of the most highly-placed experts in the transportation industry—corporate CEOs, agency administrators, and even the U.S. Secretary of Transportation—to speak to the membership at WTS-LA events.
But sometimes the expertise we’re looking for is already in the house; the WTS-LA membership boasts a formidable array of women and men who represent the best the industry has to offer. And that means that intramural access—simply reaching out to other members at the next table—can put you in touch with someone who offers just the expertise you need.
So meet Pat Kramer, a brand new member and a salient case in point. She just joined WTS-LA in January 2012, but she has attended enough functions to already be impressed with the quality of the speakers she’s heard, and the expertise of the members she has met.
But Ms. Kramer has brought her own considerable skills to the table as well. The founder of Writer for Hire, a Southern California service agency, she is a technical writer with decades of experience. She is particularly adept at public relations and marketing, and has given presentations on those arcane arts to businesses and professional associations for over 20 years. And now she specializes in helping her clients market themselves and their companies through LinkedIn, the most powerful business networking resource in the world.
Having spent years helping clients establish their brands and market presence, Ms. Kramer quickly saw that the power of the Internet was often ignored or poorly used by many otherwise sophisticated clients. So she started teaching them how to make best use of the World Wide Web. She also was teaching aspiring writers how to write articles and get them published on the Internet. As that digital phenomenon has evolved, so too has Ms. Kramer’s focus. For the past couple of years she has been teaching business professionals how to establish their presence and make optimum use of LinkedIn.
And there’s a solid business reason for that focus: LinkedIn now operates in some 200 countries, and boasts over 150 million subscribers. Every single member of the 2011 Fortune 500 list has a presence on LinkedIn. And access to that massive global resource is free. So Ms. Kramer’s core Internet presentation to clients has “morphed” into taking effective advantage of LinkedIn as a marketing tool, one that can actually supplant some of the tedious, time-consuming work that has long been the hallmark of professional networking and marketing.
Ms. Kramer’s presentation is designed to overcome a key barrier; namely, that many people don’t know how to use either the Internet or LinkedIn very well. They may have a Web site (usually designed by others), and the company name and contact may be posted on LinkedIn, but many users then just sit back and wait hopefully for something good to happen. But that leaves too much to chance. As Ms. Kramer points out, active use of LinkedIn can provide five key benefits that support your public relations goals:
- A database of contacts, suppliers, and potential clients/customers
- A worldwide public relations tool
- A marketing forum
- Networking resources
- Search engine optimization (to keep your corporate site highly visible)
“It’s an incredible resource if it’s used right,” she says, “but you have to learn how to make the most of it.” And you have to stay engaged. However, the time required to keep your LinkedIn presence active is slight; 15 minutes a day can keep your material fresh and your public relations campaign percolating.
Ms. Kramer often takes her expertise on the road, giving her presentation to a number of public and private organizations in Southern California. Her audiences have included several chapters of both Cal-CPA and ProVisors (a coalition of professional advisors); the Women Professionals Education Group; Bruin Professionals (an association of UCLA alumni); and a number of business leader associations. These target groups are particularly well-suited to the use of LinkedIn, which is ideal for service-oriented businesses that don’t require a brick-and-mortar presence (such as writers, CPAs, attorneys, marketers, and financial planners; the array of professionals who could benefit from being “linked in” is enormous).
Whether clients wish to learn how to use LinkedIn themselves, or prefer to have Ms. Kramer establish and maintain their digital presence, it doesn’t take long to go from zero to online. The basic training session can get people up to speed in 1–1½ hours, and minutes a day thereafter can keep you visible and current. A lack of computer literacy can be a major obstacle, but those who are reasonably adept at the keyboard quickly find themselves posting résumés and work samples, listing professional engagements, and packaging their PR image with a wealth of samples, testimonials, and calendar listings that keep you in your customers’ view at all times.
And Ms. Kramer only preaches what she practices; her own LinkedIn presence is well populated with biographical information, client lists, her calendar of speaking engagements, and samples of the writing and PR campaigns she has conducted for her clients over the course of her career. As she demonstrates in her classes, LinkedIn allows you to update your online presence at will, and you can even automatically send updates to a selected list of contacts. Although LinkedIn is not a stand-alone marketing solution—in Ms. Kramer’s experience, you still have to do real “boots on the ground” networking and marketing to keep bringing in business—it does lessen the exhausting demands of maintaining an in-person presence.
This is particularly relevant for service businesses operating in Southern California; it’s a long drive to get anywhere, and our traffic can be notoriously uncooperative. By contrast, LinkedIn lets you stay in touch from the comfort of your home or office. For a writer such as Kramer, that means she can post the new press releases she writes with a single click, giving her writing business another boost while simultaneously promoting her clients with a little free publicity as well. It’s a good retention and branding tool, one that keeps you in the public eye. And the credibility created by a visible, active LinkedIn presence means yours could be the first name (and perhaps the only name) that crops up when a potential new client suddenly finds herself in need of your services.
For the members of WTS-LA, access is everything. Whether it’s staying informed about the latest industry developments, finding a potential project partner, seeking out a key new hire, or learning about upcoming projects of interest, our membership needs to stay in touch. WTS-LA is a great way to sustain access in person. And LinkedIn is one of the best ways to do that in the global marketplace. In short, WTS-LA members are prime candidates for the LinkedIn environment, and Ms. Kramer can help us find the way in and navigate effectively in that digital subculture.
But turnabout is fair play. So as a reigning expert in writing, marketing, PR, and LinkedIn in particular, what does Ms. Kramer think about her recent exposure to WTS-LA? “I expect WTS to be a very good resource. I’ve learned a great deal about people in the transportation industry, and I look forward to learning more.” When it comes to experts, it takes one to know one.
Ms. Kramer’s company Web site is at http://www.writerpatkramer.com/. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. And her well-populated LinkedIn page (you’ll need to be a member to see it) is at http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=5798022&locale=en_US&trk=tyah2.\
Photo of Pat Kramer by Koop Films, Inc. Iconic images of people networking at WTS Los Angeles events by John Livzey and Koop Films, Inc.