As you have probably already heard by now, linkedin publishing platformLinkedIn recently opened its publishing platform to all members. Previously this was only available to a handpicked group of industry experts selected by LinkedIn.

I am really excited about the opportunity this provides for every single LinkedIn member. You can now showcase your expertise in long-form articles (i.e., blog posts) for not only your network to read but for the whole world to read. What a great way to show you know your stuff.

However, when I have shared this awesome opportunity with my LinkedIn consulting clients, it's resulted in a sudden look of terror on their faces.

What's wrong? Why the look of terror?

Because they don't have a plan to begin to share their expertise through articles on LinkedIn (or anywhere else for that matter)--plus knowing their competitors may already be doing it and thus showing them up literally scares them to death.

If this is not you and you are already using the publishing feature, way to go. You might be ahead of your competitors. But if it sounds like you, you need to take the following steps ASAP.

Find out who is already publishing in your area of expertise

Click the down arrow and choose Articles (1). Then search for linkedin publishing platformarticles using keywords. In my example I searched for articles about retirement planning. I found 130 articles (2).

Check some of these out to get a feel for what folks are sharing. Consider sharing (3) with your network the best of what you find, but stay away from sharing posts from direct competitors. At least you are curating good content until you write your own. "Follow" the authors so you get their latest as soon as they post it.

Take note of the authors (4) who post consistently. In addition to looking at their posts, check out their profiles. If you find something interesting, you may wish to include similar information on your profile.

Consider connecting with these folks, but, again, stay away from connecting with competitors.

Post status updates that include articles you find from sources other than LinkedIn

Again, curating good content can help you get out there as an expert at least until you're ready to write your own articles. Learn more about this by reading Your Definitive Guide To LinkedIn Status Updates.

Evaluate whether the LinkedIn Publishing Platform should become part of your marketing plan

It's not for everyone and, yes, it takes some effort, so do your homework. These articles should help you decide whether it's right for you.

LinkedIn Blog: The Definitive Professional Publishing Platform

Social Media Examiner Blog: LinkedIn Publishing Platform: What Marketers Need to Know

Entrepreneur Blog: Should You Join LinkedIn's Expanded Influencer Program?

Mashable Blog: LinkedIn Opens Publishing Power to All Users

Click here to check out what I have published so far using the new platform.