When it comes to finding work for your small business, LinkedIn is one of the best hunting grounds out there. And, employers are increasingly turning to LinkedIn too – since 2015 there’s been a 40% increase in recruiters using InMail to contact potential candidates. The platform is hugely popular among contractors, freelancers and small business owners as a way of finding work. So, if you just think of your LinkedIn profile as an online CV, you’re probably missing out on some huge opportunities to grow your business. Let’s look at 10 methods to use LinkedIn to find work for your business.
10 ways to find freelance and contracting work on LinkedIn
There are two ways of winning freelance or contracting work through LinkedIn:
- Active: this is where you put yourself out there, make connections and hunt for job listings
- Passive: this is where you optimize your profile to make it more likely that recruiters or other job posters find you10 ways to find freelance and contracting work on LinkedIn
In effect there’s a lot of crossover between active and passive freelance work hunting; by being active in the right LinkedIn groups, it makes it more likely that a recruiter comes across your profile later on while you’re not actually doing anything to find work.
So, here are 10 ways freelancers and contractors can use LinkedIn to find work:
1. Make a good first impression
Your LinkedIn profile can say a lot about you to potential recruiters. Make sure the first things they see appear professional and smart. Your profile photo should be up to date and smart, you should have a relevant background image and you should use your real name (as opposed to a nickname or your company name). If you haven’t already, you should also aim to complete your entire profile – LinkedIn makes this easy for you by giving you pointers as to where you need to add more detail as you’re editing your page.
2. Headline and summary
Just like any search engine, LinkedIn uses keywords. So, whenever someone searches for, say, a freelance web designer on LinkedIn, those profiles that contain that keyword will come top of the search. Make sure your headline and LinkedIn summary include keywords related to what you do. This makes it way more likely that recruiters will find your profile and get in touch about jobs.
3. Ask for endorsements
Request that existing contacts provide endorsements for your skills and expertise, especially if these come from previous freelance or contracting employers. If you can get a positive review of your work on a project, this will give any potential recruiters that extra bit of confidence that you’re worth taking a chance on.
4. Use your profile as a portfolio
There are a number of ways you can use your profile as a portfolio. Most obviously, you should bunch small jobs and projects together in your experience section, detailing the kinds of work you do and the clients you work with. For larger projects you’ve completed, list these separately, perhaps with a link to information about the final piece. Finally, you should include links to your website and online portfolio in your LinkedIn summary section.
5. Post updates and articles
Put your name out there by posting updates, sharing articles and other links. LinkedIn allows you to publish your own thoughts on LinkedIn Pulse too, so a well written article about a subject you know a lot about can be read and shared by hundreds of people. And, LinkedIn Pulse posts appear in Google search results too. One of your readers may well be impressed by your knowledge and offer you some work.
6. Join groups
LinkedIn has countless groups related to different professions. Whether you’re an independent accountant, a freelance journalist or a management consultant, there’s almost certainly groups aimed at your niche. By joining these groups and asking and answering questions, you boost your profile in the community. And, if you’re active in LinkedIn groups, you boost your chance of winning work. Recruiters who join the group will see you as an expert and may get in touch. At the same time, friendships you make with other group members could lead to referral work in future.
Read more about the power of networking in this article.
7. Connect with potential employers
LinkedIn is a website designed specifically for facilitating business connections. So, don’t be shy about connecting with potential employers! If you’re a freelance web developer, and you’ve mainly worked with IT managers at public sector organizations in the past, there is no reason not to simply search LinkedIn for people with this kind of profile and requesting to follow them. Sure, not everyone will accept, but those that do might just pay off.
8. Send personalized InMails
To be able to send an InMail, you need to have a premium profile. However, for a few dollars per month, this could be a worthwhile investment if you do it right. Personalized InMails allow you to connect to anyone on LinkedIn and send them a message. However, for any success here, you need to make sure your message is personally directed at the person you’re trying to speak to – don’t just send a spammy message you’ve sent to a hundred other people, or your connections will just ignore you.
Read our guide on striking deals over email.
9. Connect with old employers
Old employers, managers and even colleagues who’ve changed jobs and risen in seniority are often a great source of work for freelancers and contractors. Add these people to your network and send them a message to let them know what you’re doing nowadays. They just might have some work you can help out with.
10. View ads!
One of the easiest ways to find freelance and contracting work on LinkedIn is to set up notifications for job ads which contain your keywords – be that freelance writer, graphic designer or IT consultant. LinkedIn can email you daily, weekly or monthly summaries of jobs in your sector – let LinkedIn do the hard work for you!