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Is LinkedIn working for you as a freelancer?
I mean, sure – you’ve got a profile and you’ve filled out some info – but are you really using it to find the best opportunities – or is it sitting there idle, like profiles belonging to millions of other freelancers?
The good news is, you don’t have to invest in courses or paid advertising to make the most popular professional network produce results. In fact, you’ve just got to make sure you’re following a few fundamental rules.
Here, I’ll map out what those rules are – and why I’m certain they’ll work for you.
Do you need to rethink LinkedIn?
Before we dig into the really good stuff, it’s important that you’ve got the correct perception of LinkedIn.
There are plenty of people who’ll only use it when it’s time to find a new client or a new job – essentially, like an electronic resumé that’s there for the world to see. While it does offer this function, that definition gives a really limited scope for the platform.
Instead of considering LinkedIn to be just about finding jobs, try to consider it simply as a professional social media tool – an enormous room full of people who are in work mode. When you look at it through this lens, there’s far more opportunity to be had than simply assuming it’s for paid-position job seekers.
Engage with your newsfeed
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Like all good social platforms, LinkedIn presents you with a newsfeed – a rundown of what your connections are doing. Similar to Facebook (although on a greater scale) it offers up an insight into where your connections have been commenting, liking and engaging themselves.
Do the same. Engage with these threads, throw your opinion into the ring, share professional tips, tag other people and bring them into the conversation.
As cold as it may sound – there are going to be very few people who care about what you’re doing on LinkedIn unless you’re rolling up your sleeves and getting involved. When you do, you put yourself in front of the people who matter – and trust me, people will click to have a look at who’s interacting.
Connect with people
The engagement I’ve just talked about is worth much more if you’ve got a decent amount of connections yourself – you’ll get to see more of what’s going on for those people, and they (and their connections) get to see more of what’s going on with you.
So, connect with people. If it’s people you know that’s great – but don’t worry if it’s not. The very best way to grow your connections is to approach the people who you find yourself engaging with in your newsfeed.
For instance, you’ve got a friend of a friend who comments on the same kind of stuff when it pops up on your mutual connection’s feed – why not ping them a connection request with a quick line that acknowledges how you seem to have the same views on things – or how you’d like to get to know more about their industry/company/job role – etc. As long as you’re not trying to sell them something then you’ll find 99% people are totally fine with it.
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When you’re connected with people, you’re going to win yourself a lot of friends if you make some recommendations. You don’t have to do the hard work here – just tag someone you think might be suitable for the job when you see connection comment “can anyone put me in touch with a good…”
What goes around comes around – and the more you offer people up, the more they’ll do the same for you.
Although it’s not something you need to do daily, it’s really useful to create some useful content on LinkedIn.
What you decide on is entirely up to you. Have you got a side project you’re working on that you’d like to show off? Perhaps you’ve created something great for a client and you’d like to share your efforts? Maybe you just want to share a motivational quote or a good vibe from the week?
If you fancy writing, there’s plenty you can do here. LinkedIn articles are a great place to do some storytelling – an extremely powerful way of setting yourself apart from the crowd. If you’re not sure exactly what I mean by ‘storytelling’ – take a glance at this article – I’ve outlined what storytelling is, why it’s powerful – and how to use it on LinkedIn.
Whatever you decide to create, there’s plenty of space on LinkedIn for transmitting your message. If you’re not sure, look at what kind of content you engage with on the platform and do something similar.
Mix your profile up
LinkedIn isn’t intended to be a static showcase of who you are – the very best people use it in an ever-changing, dynamic way.
There’s a reason LinkedIn automatically publishes a notification whenever you make a change on your profile – it’s because it puts it in front of people – so that ‘about me’ section should really reflect what you’re doing on a changing basis and what it is you want to shout about.
Don’t be afraid to continually update your profile – keep it fresh and keep it in front of people.
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Groups on LinkedIn are a great source of industry info – but, if you use them smartly, they’re also a great source of potential work.
The key is really making sure that you’re using groups properly. For instance, if you’re a photographer, it makes a lot of sense to be joining photography groups – but don’t draw the line there. Consider joining groups that reflect the kind of industries you’d like to work in. So, lets say you’re keen to work in travel photography – why not join groups that are intended for travel journalists, travel bloggers, etc.
If you’re planning to use LinkedIn to find work – you’re unlikely to find it digitally socializing with like-minded folk. Instead, think about where your customers might hang out – and get yourself there.
Create a schedule
When the pressure is on with a project or job it’s easy to forget the background work you should be doing to make sure you’re doing adequate marketing for your freelance business.
LinkedIn falls into this category for many people – if it’s not producing results all the time, it’s easy to drop the ball when it comes to logging in and engaging. On that basis, it can be a really positive step to create a bit of an on-going schedule to help you maintain your efforts.
Break down what you need to do into the following lists:
Daily LinkedIn tasks
Weekly LinkedIn tasks
Monthly/occasional LinkedIn tasks
It’s a good idea for them to look like this:
Daily: Log in, engage with your newsfeed – like, comment, share, recommend
Weekly: Create some content – a post, a graphic, a picture, etc
Monthly: Change your profile up, join some groups, build your connections
Of course, that’s not prescriptive – but after a couple of months, you’ll definitely start to see increased profile views and connection requests. Remember, LinkedIn is, essentially, a digital business network – so, if you want to make the most of it, you could do a lot worse than approaching it with the kind of tactics you need to get the most out of business networking.