Marty Weil, who worked in the PR Industry before becoming a freelance journalist cum blogger, has experienced both sides of the fence. He shares some useful tips on how journalists and bloggers can use social networks like Twitter and LinkedIn to connect with PR people and topic experts.

I can use Twitter to follow a number of key PR people in my areas of concentration. The real power of Twitter is its search function. When I’m assigned a feature by one of my editors, I can search the topic on Twitter and immediately find a conversation that speaks to the story I’m pursuing. If it’s a story topic with legs, I’ll become a Twitter follower of the experts or PR people on the issue. When I make contact with those experts or PR people, I’ll then “friend” them on LinkedIn to strengthen and nurture that connection.

As a journalist, I use LinkedIn to an even greater extent than Twitter. Often, when I’ve been assigned a feature, I will go to the “Answers” section of LinkedIn and post a question asking for expert contacts on the subject I’m covering. Using this technique, I’ve been connected to experts and PR people that I would have never found using a traditional Google search. It has also helped me to establish long-term, highly beneficial relationships with PR people and others who continue to supply me with story ideas and contacts.