For freelancers, your professional network is one of the most powerful ways to get work. At more than 774 million members, LinkedIn is the world’s largest digital professional network. Optimizing your LinkedIn profile can help you get more meaningful jobs. There are four people hired on LinkedIn every minute, with around 87% of recruiters regularly using LinkedIn, according to Kinsta.
Whether you’re new to freelancing, you’re experiencing a bit of a dry spell, or you just want to find projects you’re passionate about, LinkedIn is a great source for freelance opportunities. Use these tips to power your profile and improve how you operate on the site so you can get more freelance projects.
1. Optimize Your Profile
Think of LinkedIn as a search engine. Companies and recruiters use LinkedIn to search for keywords that match the skills they’re looking for. You want to optimize your LinkedIn profile so it matches relevant searches.
Smarp has a good step-by-step guide to optimizing your LinkedIn profile. Here are some best practices to pay attention to.
- Create a profile. First thing’s first – sign up for a free profile on LinkedIn.com if you don’t yet have one.
- Make it complete. Add a professional profile photo and background photo. Fill in details in your about section, work experience, education, and skills. Get a primer on how to create a powerful LinkedIn summary here. If your resume is updated, you can pull information from there. Add work samples where relevant.
- Ask for recommendations. LinkedIn recommendations are social proof your former supervisors and coworkers recommend you for relevant work. Check out career consulting firm HiConsulting Services for their guide on how to get LinkedIn recommendations. It’s helpful to ask people you’ve had a good working relationship with and whom you’d be willing to return the favor.
- Focus on searchable keywords. Just like content marketing, you want your LinkedIn profile to be user-friendly and search engine-friendly. Write your content honestly, and also create it with a recruiter in mind. Instead of putting “Marketing Ninja” in your headline, for example, it’s more SEO-friendly to write “Digital Marketing Professional”.
A complete, full profile that’s optimized with keywords can help you pop up in more searches when recruiters and business owners are looking for freelancers with your talent.
If you’re really stuck, it might make sense to invest in professional LinkedIn optimization services, since an optimized profile can help you get more freelance work.
2. Grow Your Network
For many freelancers, the dream is to have so many work opportunities coming your way, you get to pick and choose the exact projects you’re most interested in working on. When you first start out, you may find yourself reaching out to businesses with your services. But referrals are a gold mine for freelance businesses and for more satisfying freelance work.
Referrals have always been a powerful way for businesses to source better talent and for candidates to get great jobs. According to talent acquisition software Yello, recruiters cite referrals as the top source of hires. Plus:
- 82% of employers rate employee referrals as producing the best ROI out of any hiring source.
- 88% of employers say referrals are the best source for exceptional candidates.
- Referrals are 55% faster to hire than employees found through career websites.
Knowing the value of referrals, use LinkedIn to cultivate a strong professional network. That’s what the website is for, after all.
Like we reported in our Guide to Working with Freelancers, freelancers tend to invite their networks along when their clients need help. By building strong relationships on LinkedIn, especially with other freelancers, you can set yourself up for success.
Here are some tips for growing your LinkedIn network.
Add people you’ve worked with.
You probably have memorable coworkers from past jobs. Look them up on LinkedIn and send them a request to connect.
Look at employer pages.
You can also search companies you’ve worked for in the past and look for potential connections.
Share your profile with your networks.
If you’re on other social media channels, like Facebook or Twitter, you can create a post that links to your LinkedIn profile. That way, your other contacts can connect with you there.
Participate in LinkedIn Groups.
You can join LinkedIn Groups based on your industry and topics you’re interested in. Be sure to comment on posts of interest to you, or post your own updates when relevant. Your participation in LinkedIn Groups could lead to new connections.
To get more referrals, it’s also helpful to build real, genuine relationships on LinkedIn. Send a personalized message at least once a year to people in your network you want to build deeper relationships with. Update them with where you are professionally and ask what’s new with them and how you can help.
3. Promote Yourself
You may be surprised at all the job opportunities available that could benefit from your expertise. People within your LinkedIn network could have a need for a freelancer like you at this very moment.
Don’t be shy. Use LinkedIn to let your network know you’re ready to work. You could post an update that you’re available for specific types of projects. Add a call-to-action to your network to refer you if they know someone who has a need for your work.
As you complete projects you’re proud of, add them to your LinkedIn portfolio. Doing so provides a few benefits.
- You can provide your network with an update of your project so they can check out your work. You’ll be at top-of-mind next time they learn about a relevant opportunity.
- You add work experience that someone can review if they’re potentially interested in hiring you.
- Work experience adds to the completeness of your profile, which may be a positive factor in how the LinkedIn algorithm views and promotes your profile in searches.
You can also ask a client if they’d be OK with you tagging them in an update that you’ve enjoyed working with them, either as an individual or as a company. Your update may get seen by others in their network, which can lead to you growing yours and getting more work.
You can also ask happy clients if they’d be willing to provide you with a LinkedIn recommendation. You can offer to do the same. Your recommendation updates can boost your profile and strengthen your relationship with the client – and may lead to more referrals.
LinkedIn also has an “Open to Work” feature for profiles. Turn it on, and your profile photo will be overlaid with a message showing other LinkedIn users you’re available to take on projects. The feature also makes you more visible to recruiters.
4. Use LinkedIn Premium Features
Finally, you can choose to invest in your LinkedIn profile by checking out LinkedIn’s premium offerings.
First, there’s LinkedIn Premium. Primarily a tool for recruiters, candidates, and freelancers can also get some useful benefits from this paid service. For freelancers, LinkedIn Premium enables you to:
- Send direct mail to recruiters and hiring managers.
- See who’s viewed your profile over the last 90 days, which can enable you to reach out if there are relevant connections to be made.
- Access more than 15,000 LinkedIn Learning courses to grow your freelance skillset and add course completions to your LinkedIn profile.
- Get interview preparation tips.
You can try LinkedIn Premium free for a month to see if the service can benefit your freelance career.
Also, be on the lookout for the launch of LinkedIn Marketplaces, set to debut in September 2021. LinkedIn Marketplaces will be a freelancer-specific service, where freelancers can promote their services and rates and business owners can hire freelancers. Companies will also be able to promote projects they need freelancers for, which freelancers can then apply to.
Your Freelance Business Can Benefit from a Strong LinkedIn Presence
Even if you’re chugging away with work that’s keeping you happy as a freelancer, the ultimate goal is to constantly get better-paying, more satisfying work. LinkedIn is a great tool to help you achieve this. It’s a network you should continually optimize your presence on so that the best opportunities always come your way.
- Make your profile complete. Update it regularly.
- Add relevant connections. Keep in touch to build relationships.
- Add work samples to your profile. Promote your accomplishments in a respectful way.
- Consider LinkedIn premium features when you need more work or want to sharpen your skillset.