So if you want to be easily found by people looking for your services and attract those lucrative connections, here are some tips to make the most of LinkedIn when you freelance.
Your profile picture will offer a first impression of you and your business, so make sure it's professional and businesslike. Don't use images from Facebook or a recent night out with friends. And don't leave the space blank either, because it could put people off.
This section is your chance to summarise your profession. It's also an opportunity to throw in some keywords as your job title comes under the search facility on LinkedIn. So for example, if you're a freelance copywriter – say 'Freelance Copywriter' in your job title. Of course, lots of other people will be doing the same thing so throw in some other niche keywords to help you stand out, e.g. 'Freelance Copywriter for Websites'.
LinkedIn isn't – it's a social network, so make sure you use it by updating your status regularly. Use the status as a chance to talk about projects you're currently working on. Or perhaps you can link to an interesting blog post you've discovered. If you ignore this area of your profile, you could be lost amongst everyone else – so remind people that you exist by updating your status every day.
You get to share up to three web links on your LinkedIn profile – make sure you use all three. And instead of adding obvious link names like the name of your business to hyperlink to your website, use this opportunity to offer a more descriptive anchor text. For example, 'Freelance Copywriting Services' or 'View my Web Design Work'.
The summary section is your big chance to shine, so write something engaging to encourage people to pick up the phone and hire you. Add a call to action, if you can. Don't waffle, keep things concise and try to get across your skills and expertise in two or three sentences.
Also – try not to brag or come across arrogant. Be humble, factual, open and honest about your experience. For some extra tips, read our article on how to write about your authentic self without feeling as though you're showing off.
If you haven't yet secured any testimonials, get some! These earn extra credibility and trust, which help you stand out. Find your clients on LinkedIn – follow them and then ask if they can endorse you. Most people don't mind if you've done a great job.
There are lots of different applications on LinkedIn that you can use to boost your profile. You can hook up your blog so that you can add your latest articles to your profile page. You can display your work through the 'Creative Portfolio Display' app. You can share your 'reading list' from Amazon. Have a look at what's on offer via the 'Get more Applications…' link under 'More' on the main navigation.
Once you're happy with your profile, start to add connections. LinkedIn allows you to 'See Who You Already Know' by searching through your email contacts. If you've added past Companies you've worked for and any educational facilities you attended, you can find potential contacts there as well. 'People You May Know' comes from the connections you've already made. Aim to look through potential new contacts once or twice per month.
Groups are free to join and a great way to network with specific target audiences. You can belong to 50 groups on LinkedIn without having to upgrade and access the paid service, so join as many as possible. And once you've joined, make sure you're active so you can raise your profile amongst that group. You never know where it might lead. Can't find anything relevant? Why not start your group?
Finally, get the word out there that you're on LinkedIn. Add a button/icon to your website and blog. You can find profile badges on LinkedIn where you can copy and paste the code. You can also tweet your LinkedIn website link and share it on Facebook.
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