How to Really Use LinkedIn to Market Your Freelance Business

Should freelancers be using LinkedIn to promote their freelance business?

To answer that question, let’s take a closer look at LinkedIn:

LinkedIn at a Glance

It is the biggest social network of professionals with an estimated 66 million members. According to Quantcast, an average of five million people visit the site every day. Because LinkedIn is for “professionals,” most of its members have had more education and make a much higher income, on average, than those of other social networks.

LinkedIn has the reputation of being used by human resources people, headhunters and recruiters to find suitable candidates for their job openings. Executives from Fortune 500 companies, business owners, and professional service providers also use LinkedIn.

Your Freelancing Biz Could Benefit from LinkedIn

If your Ideal Client fits the profile of the typical LinkedIn user, then obviously it’s a good place for you to connect with, find and be found by them. For example, if you want to work for specific companies, you could find the right people to reach out to by doing a search in LinkedIn.

However, even if your Ideal Clients are hanging out somewhere else, you can still benefit from LinkedIn.

For one thing, LinkedIn could allow you to connect with others who could, in turn, connect you with your Ideal Clients. You could link up with thought leaders and other influential people in your industry, niche, or even geographical location.

At the very least, LinkedIn is good for your web presence. With it, you can build high-quality backlinks to your freelancing site. Your LinkedIn profile is also indexed by Google and will likely be on the first page of search engine results when somebody searches your name.

So You Wanna Use LinkedIn: Here’s How

As with any other tool, LinkedIn will give you results if you know how to use it. Below are some basic strategies for getting started and making the most of LinkedIn’s features to promote your freelance services.

1. Get the Most Out of Your LinkedIn Profile

Your profile is the most important part of marketing on LinkedIn. It shouldn’t read like the typical resume, which is formal and dry.

Instead, strive for a profile that is both compelling to humans and crawlable by search engines. You can accomplish this by doing the following

  • Use a personable photo. One with you smiling directly into the camera is best. Avoid using your company logo or other image. People prefer to connect with other people, so show your face.
  • Craft an interesting and keyword-rich headline. This is the 120-character field following your name. Put your target keywords in there and at the same time hint at what sets you apart from your competitors. Think of your headline as your elevator speech. It will determine whether your profile visitor will continue reading the rest of your profile or not.
  • Maximize your summary. Again, use your target keywords in the summary. However, make sure what you write is interesting to humans first of all. This is where you can go into more detail about what you do, whom you help, and how you help your clients. Strive for something complete and concise.
  • Fill up all other areas of your profile. Fill in the details about your past jobs, education, interests and so on. Even if you don’t think these are relevant to your current freelancing work, these details help other LinkedIn users find you. Other users may also be more inclined to connect with you (and eventually hire you) when they see that you have something in common with them, whether it’s going to the same university or having similar interests.
  • Maximize the website links. LinkedIn allows you to display and link to up to three websites. Use all three links, even if you only have one site. One link could be to your home page, another to your About Page, and still another to an opt-in page or even your services page. This is a good way to build high-quality backlinks to your site. Use your target keywords as your anchor texts when creating links to your web pages.

2. It’s All About Connections

It’s a social network, after all, so after you’ve got your profile up, start connecting!

The easiest way is to import email addresses you already have in your Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail and AOL accounts. You can also find people you already know by searching company names and schools. You can also invite other people by simply entering their email addresses in the “Add Connections” tab.

Eventually, you’ll find that people you’re already networking with on Twitter and Facebook will want to connect with you on LinkedIn as well. Should you? There’s no harm in doing so. In fact, connecting on LinkedIn gives you just one more way to reach them when you have an important message to share. After all, your followers and friends won’t always see your Twitter and Facebook updates.

3. Get Props with Recommendations

One feature you don’t get from Twitter or Facebook is the ability to collect and display recommendations or endorsements from other members of LinkedIn.

This is a powerful feature for freelancers, as it gives social proof of your skills and abilities. LinkedIn displays the number of recommendations you have on your profile, so the more you have, the more impressive it is.

The easiest way to populate the Recommendations section of your profile is to connect with your clients who are already on LinkedIn and ask if they can endorse you. If they have existing testimonials, they’ll be all too willing to use the same one on LinkedIn. It’s much less work for them.

Don’t be timid about approaching former employees and colleagues and asking them for recommendations as well.

Of course, it’s a good idea for you to pay it forward by giving recommendations of people you’ve worked with. Do so without being asked, and you will be richly rewarded.

4. In Summary

LinkedIn is another social media marketing tool you can use to become more easily found on the Internet, create connections that will bring opportunities, and reach your Ideal Clients.

That said, it is yet another social networking site that can potentially eat up your time and drain your energy.

The key is to know what it can do for you, how to use it, and have a strategy. By being clear about who you want to connect with, and setting limits on the amount of time and energy you spend, you can avoid making it a time suck.

So is it necessary for freelancers to be on LinkedIn? Of course not.

At the very least, it doesn’t hurt to have a compelling, keyword-rich profile that links back to your site.

Are You Linked?

Do you have a LinkedIn profile? Have you found clients through LinkedIn? Please share your experience by commenting below.

Image by smi23le