Why All Freelancers Really Need a LinkedIn Profile

So, you understand that participating in social media is important for your freelancing business–that’s a great start.

Let me ask you something else. Do you currently have a profile on LinkedIn?

If you answered “no,” then you may be missing a great opportunity to market yourself to the very businesses that you’re trying to reach.

In this post, I’ll discuss some of the benefits freelancers can find from using LinkedIn. I’ll also share some additional resources where you can learn more about using LinkedIn for your freelancing business.

LinkedIn Benefits for Freelancers

One of the most common questions freelancers ask is this: “How can I attract clients who are large organizations to my freelancing business?”

Well, the answer for finding any type of client is to make sure that you go where your potential clients are. If you want to count major corporations among your clients, you need to be where they are. Right now, that means you need to be on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn’s own statistics on their About Us page show that big businesses use LinkedIn. In fact, as of March 2012 their membership includes at least one executive from every Fortune 500 company. That fact alone makes LinkedIn a significant tool for reaching out to the corporate community.

LinkedIn is also great for freelancers because it is intended to be a network for professionals. Unlike on other social networks, you won’t find embarrassing photos of your cousin’s party or be startled by your ex-roommate’s off-color comments here. There aren’t a lot of LinkedIn games to waste your time either.

The people who are on LinkedIn are there for one reason–business.

LinkedIn Features Freelancers Should Use

Of course, you’ll want to make sure that your LinkedIn profile is completely filled out. You should also make a point to connect with all current and past business contacts.

Here are several LinkedIn features you should be taking advantage of if you want to use it to market yourself as a freelancer:

  • Groups. LinkedIn has a huge quantity of professional groups. These provide a great way to network with other business professionals. Once you’ve joined a few groups, check your group feed regularly for updates.
  • Jobs. LinkedIn maintains its own professional job bank. While many of the jobs are full-time, freelance jobs are listed. The jobs listed here tend to be more professional.
  • Companies. Are you interested in getting your foot in the door with a specific company? Try following them with the companies feature.
  • Answers. This is LinkedIn’s own Question and Answer tool (found under the More option). Answering questions here allows you to demonstrate your expertise to an audience of professionals.
  • Skills & Expertise. This is a new feature (still in beta at the time this post was written) under the More option. What it does is allow you to enter some keywords for your skills so that you can be found more easily.

Of course, there’s a lot more you could learn about using LinkedIn effectively.

More About LinkedIn

Would you like to learn more about using LinkedIn for your freelancing business?

Here are some great additional resources about LinkedIn:

Your Turn

Like so many freelancers, I have to admit that I neglected my own LinkedIn profile for years. While I had a bare bones profile, it contained very little about my business.

About six months ago all that changed. I took an online class on LinkedIn and started to take the advice that I was learning. Suddenly, everything changed. I started hearing from clients and recruiters.

Are you neglecting your LinkedIn profile? How do you use LinkedIn?

Share your best tips and ideas in the comments below.

Image by TheSeafarer

Comments

  1. says

    I spent a fair bit of time beefing up my LinkedIn profile, joining groups, getting recommendations, uploading work examples etc. It has paid off as I have definitely found work as a result of LinkedIn. And I have found people too. For example, I wanted someone to format an ebook I am writing for Kindle so I joined an ebook group and found someone with 50 recommendations who did the project for me.

  2. says

    Carole–Thanks for your sharing your experience with LinkedIn. In my experience, spending time on LinkedIn has definitely been worthwhile. (I have to admit, I was skeptical at first.)

  3. says

    I found some great connections on LinkedIn and have learned a lot there, though I am not as active as many people and still do business by referral. One thing I am so happy about is the breaking of the LinkedIn/Twitter connection. I felt that people were damaging their professional reputations by tweeting ceaselessly on LinkedIn. My status updates were over-run with tweets instead of real news about what was happening to my connections in their professional lives. And it was such a waste, since we could all follow them on Twitter if we wanted to see every article they read or restaurant they checked into. I think this is a huge step forward for managing a LinkedIn presence! (stepping off of my soap box now)

  4. says

    I have a linked.in profile but I must admit that I haven’t used it that much. I agree with you though on the networking aspect and the power of person to person networking.

    As it is, it also carries more weight as opposed to other social networks because of its professional appeal.

    However, I simply find it not so engaging in terms of socialization. I don’t even know if I’m connected to anyone there. LOL.

    I know my perspective is wrong, but I can’t help it. I look at linked.in like this: it’s a website for work people type of dudes and gals. Simply not fun.

  5. says

    Earlier this year, a client bought another company and asked me to do some research on the company that had designed the original (and terrible!) website. I spent an hour surfing and Googling, and could find out very little about the company or the person who designed the site.

    I’d had a LinkedIn profile for several years, but after this experience, I went back and really beefed up my profile. I greatly expanded the information that let people know I had the education, experience and expertise to do the work I wanted to do for them. In other words, I provided the information I was seeking and could not find about the other designer.

    Every freelancer should have a Web site with an “about us” page that gives their background, but I don’t believe in posting a resume online. LinkedIn is the perfect place to list those qualifications without giving away too much information.

  6. says

    Great comments! It sounds like a lot of freelancers are just getting started on LinkedIn. It will be interesting to hear what happens when they become more active.

  7. says

    Ameet–You sound like where I was last year. I stuck a profile up and just let it sit there, inactive. If you make the time to make it really good it can be an asset.

  8. says

    I made a linkedin profile a lot of time ago, I didn’t really know it’s worth then. This article made me look into it. Hope I see the advantages fast! Thanks for the article laura!

  9. says

    I’ve been using LinkedIn for a long time but so far it hasn’t paid off for me financially. It might be that it depends on the sector. I work in international disaster relief and while some of the discussion groups are useful it hasn’t led to any work coming my way yet. To me LinkedIn has very little coherence, it doesn’t feel like a real community.

  10. says

    I agree with Danny. I have a very detailed profile, lots of recommendations and “best answers” – and have gotten almost no work ever, even when I see people who could hire me freelance looking at my profile. I also find the site intolerably dull, stiff and boring. I used to visit it much more often, but now, at most, once a week.

    I did join several specific groups, but found the discussions too time-consuming to deal with, or off-topic for what I care about.

    I don’t see the point if it’s not bringing in any business.

  11. says

    Hi Everyone,

    I understand what you’re saying. My LinkedIn profile didn’t used to bring much business either–until I updated it to keep it current and paid a lot of attention to making sure that it reflected my skills. Now, due to my updates, my name shows up in the first few pages for my key skills. That has really paid off for me even though I’m still using the free account.

    Of course, like any social media, participating is a long-term investment.

  12. says

    I agree completely with what Caitlin said – that is my experience. But I still keep LinkedIn up-to-date and look for ways to improve my profile because it is still the go-to place for people to check me out. It’s like an online resume, at the least. People would go there first before my website, i believe.

  13. says

    LInked in helped me to get to know some people and I may do a good business with one of them. But I agree with many people above that just having the profile is just the first step. Like other networking activities you have to spend time on it. And when approaching people need to show it is not that you just want to get business from them. Same as off line networking. Have to show how you think you both can benefit from it

  14. says

    Hey Danny, try joining specific groups. For example, I belong to several copywriting groups, and there is one in particular where it’s like being at a bar sometimes. The discussions can get meaty and intense and the comments can go on for days. Meanwhile, you’re building relationships and your name and face are becoming familiar to your fellow members. Folks are getting to know you and will begin to check out your profile. What’s more, these same members, to whom you are becoming recognizable, post jobs within these groups’ niched job boards all the time.

    So, like Laura said, there are job boards, but be creative by joining groups that cater to your professional interests and hang out in them and check out their feeds. Some groups are not active and some are hyperactive. Also, if you get a premium package (beyond the free one), you can find out who has an interest in you because it shows you who has been exploring your profile. It makes broaching the subject of a job easier when you know you mattered enough for them to check you out. There’s so much more to linkedin than meets the eye.

    It will not happen overnight, but it doesn’t happen overnight off line either. Networking takes time. Trust takes time. Perseverance pays off eventually. And, with anything, you have to work at it. Like other marketing tasks, social media simply has to be worked into your schedule.

  15. Sher says

    The problem with LinkedIn is that you cannot connect directly to businesses that might use your services, so unless someone is doing a search locally for a freelance designer, they likely will not know about you. I see businesses all the time that could use my services, but unless I have a connection to them, I can’t email them. As for the boards, the other members either do the same thing that I do, or they live in another state and would rather deal with local people.

  16. says

    Wow! This has sparked a really interesting discussion.

    It definitely looks like a YMMV. I guess my experience has been most like Stacey’s–Although, I didn’t really get results until I started taking it seriously.

    Keep the comments coming…

  17. says

    The other thing I love about LinkedIn is the way you can find out who works in X job at X business. Say I want to know the marketing manager of a particular company so I can send them direct mail for copywriting, I can find out easily. Then you’ve got that much more chance of being able to get past the gatekeeper.

    I haven’t had a huge amount of work through LinkedIn directly, but I’m working on it and have had some. It’s often a case of making incremental changes where you need to. I know a guy, a commercial photographer, who gets a third of his business from LI – when people he doesn’t know request to connect, he invites them for coffee if they’re local and that way they’re far more likely to remember him than if he’s just a random name on their profile. I’ve started trying that one as well.

  18. says

    LinkedIn profile has become a de-facto rule for all professionals who are serious about making their profile stand out .. this is definitely all the more important for freelancers since they have to get new job offers to get themselves going .. great tips thanks

  19. says

    What’s Happening i am new to this, I stumbled upon this I have found It positively helpful and it has aided me out loads. I’m hoping to give a contribution & aid different customers like its helped me. Good job.

  20. says

    I once did a research job for a client creating a database of partners of some US-based Private Equity and Venture Equity firms. I was surprised that most information I needed was in LinkedIn. It made me realize that a lot decision makers have their profiles in the site, which I think makes it indispensable for lead generation. It was an eye-opener. I updated my profile since then. However, that’s about it. I am still not sure on how it works, on how it’s going to help me as a freelancer.

  21. says

    Linked In is totally useless for me. All these people want to connect with me and I don’t really care about them. I care about a few but the vast majority I don’t even know. And why should I share my valuable network with someone I don’t know?

    The worst Linked In members are the ones who ask for endorsements when in fact you don’t even know them. What gall. I have recommend (on Linked In) people whom I’ve worked with who are really terrific. But I’ve done that on my own initiative. They never asked me to endorse them.

    Linked In’s endorsement culture is something peculiar to the States. In a lot of other places, you endorse cereal and soap, not people. In addition, other people find that when you put someone on the spot by asking for an endorsement, it’s rude. Why? Because they’d rather not give it (perhaps they don’t know you well or don’t like you), but they are too embarrassed to say no. Now you’ve put them on the spot where they have to turn you down. This is very rude. You make them lose face.

  22. says

    I’ve used LinkedIn for different projects and purposes and I agree with Timo with mixed results. So I guess I agree with Timo – it depends on the sector and your objectives. It’s definitely worth setting up properly and having a proper go for a week, joining groups, replying to questions, etc. If it works, great of not – at least you’ll have tried.

    Partly because LinkedIn wasn’t great for driving freelance gigs, I co-founded Achoo which is a nifty way to showcase your portfolio, and people/brands you’ve worked with. Have a look http://www.achoo.co. Keen to hear your feedback on this, and any other networks you’ve tried.

  23. says

    I’ve found that with LinkedIn as with other marketing channels, you have to have a clear strategy and outcome required before you engage. There are so many ways you can use LinkedIn and as we’ve seen with the comments above, some successful, some not.

    I use LinkedIn to build strategic alliances as opposed to getting clients directly from it. What I mean by strategic alliances are people that have access to a large group of my target clients. Those are people that I want to build referral partnerships and joint venture partnerships with.

    Sometimes, I will send an email directly to them to connect and pitch my referral / partnership request or I might ask for an introduction from someone in my network.

    It really starts with getting clear with what you really want your marketing channel to do for you. It’s not always about getting clients directly. You have to be strategic and creative and think slightly long term with it as well.

    hope this helps.

  24. Adam Smith says

    It’s one of those things I keep meaning to get around to. It does exist, but it was set up in 2009 and hasn’t really been touched since. Although people do keep adding me. I suppose I really am the target audience for this post!

  25. says

    I run a boutique internet marketing studio and I have LinkedIn for both personal and the business. I have to disagree with your post. I spent a decent amount of time on LinkedIn and really have not found any benefit. I have a few people I network with locally that have stopped using it as they have found no benefit either.

  26. says

    Hi, i believe that i saw you visited my web site thus i got here to “go back the want”.
    I’m trying to in finding things to enhance my web site!
    I guess its first-class enough to utilize some of your ideas!

    !

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