10 ways you can use LinkedIn to find freelance clients
Everyone knows that LinkedIn is a useful platform for recruiters and job seekers. But what about freelancers? Read 10 ways you can use LinkedIn to find freelance clients.
As a former freelancer myself, I am very aware of the benefits of getting your LinkedIn profile right. Many of the clients I have worked for in the past initially found me via LinkedIn. And even those that first heard about me from other sources – word of mouth or my website – had checked out my profile before getting in touch about work.
Indeed, although I’d invested in a professional website to showcase my work, it was often via LinkedIn that my clients found it. (Unless you have amazing SEO skills, the chances of someone finding your website in a Google search are relatively small.)
So I really believe that if you’re a freelancer, you need to get your LinkedIn profile right.
10 ways you can use LinkedIn to find freelance clients
So, if LinkedIn is a must-have for freelancers, what do you need to know about the platform to maximise your chances of finding work through it? Here are 10 ways you can use LinkedIn to find freelance clients.
1) Tell people you’re freelance
When people search LinkedIn for freelancers, what word do you think they always put in their search? That’s right – they type in ‘freelance’.
So if you want your profile to appear in their search results, make sure you use freelance as one of your keywords. here are some of the places in your profile you can use it:
- Your headline
- Your URL
- Your summary
- Your experience
- Your endorsements
- Projects, volunteering and other sections
2) Sell your services in your summary
Your LinkedIn summary is the perfect place to set out your stall, and explain exactly what you can do for people (and indeed HAVE done for happy clients). The option to add rich media files makes it an even more important chance to establish an online portfolio.
So make sure you spend the time to get this section right. As a quick guide to how you may want to lay it out, here’s a suggestion for structuring it:
- Start out with a line summing up what you offer (your elevator pitch).
- List three to five bullet points highlighting your services/benefits to clients.
- Give specific examples of results you have achieved (you can add testimonials here).
- End with a call to action.
3) Group together small projects in your experience section
If you work on lots of small freelance projects for a wide range of clients, group them into one experience entry. Title the entry with your business name and dates (or a description of the work you did or role you played) then use the section to describe the type of work you did and clients you work for.
If you’re stuck for structure, use the same principle from your summary.
4) List large or important projects on their own
If you have worked on significant projects or for one client for a period of time, list that as a separate experience.
Again, you can structure the text like your summary, or you can write it as a case study. Remember to include a quote from your happy client if you have one.
Just a word of caution here though. Beware of listing your client as an ’employer’. Large companies often do routine searches of the people who say they work for them, and they may well get in touch if you add yourself as having worked for them.
Instead, make it clear you worked for them on a freelance or consultancy basis.
5) Build up your LinkedIn skills and endorsements
Make a habit of asking clients to give you a LinkedIn endorsement and recommend you for skills once you’ve completed a project. Be proactive, and even go as far as asking them to use specific terms (the keywords you have identified you want to be found for).
And remember to properly manage your skills section to highlight the ones you most want to be known for.
6) Be active on LinkedIn
Once you’re happy with your profile, increase your chance of it getting noticed by being active on LinkedIn. Make good use of your LinkedIn updates and LinkedIn groups to establish yourself as knowledgeable in your area of expertise, and stay front of mind.
7) Ask for referrals
If work is quiet, don’t be shy about asking people for referrals. Reach out to people in your network and send them a quick message explaining what you are doing now (that you’re currently freelance, what you offer and what type of clients you work for) and ask them to forward your details to anyone who may need you.
All it takes is one person to know somebody looking for your skills right now for the effort to pay off. And even if you don’t hear back immediately, people are more likely to remember you in future if you’ve made contact.
8) Be ‘actively looking’
If you’re available for work, you need to let potential freelance clients know. And there are a few ways you can do this.
One tip I got from a headhunter recently was to add ‘actively looking’ (or similar) to your LinkedIn headline if you are in the market for opportunities right now. Why? Because recruiters will often add this to their search terms when looking for specific skills. It also lets people know, when they land on your profile, that you’re available for work at this very moment.
However, not everyone thinks this is such a good idea. Others recommend NOT putting this in your LinkedIn headline, and instead adding it as an update*.
One good reason why you may decide not to add it to your headline is that when you’ve ‘achieved’ 12 months of “actively looking” LinkedIn will congratulate you on it – which isn’t good for personal branding!
9) Connect with people who need your skills
Don’t just wait for potential clients to find you – go out and connect with people who may need your services.
So, for example, if you’re a freelance content writer, find content or marketing managers and connect with them.
An easy way to find the perfect people to connect with is to look at your existing clients’ profiles. How do they describe themselves on LinkedIn? Are there any common job titles that crop up? And what level of experience do they have?
If you can profile your ideal client based on your existing ones, you can then go out and find other people who are similar.
10) Complete your profile
According to LinkedIn, complete profiles get 40% more opportunities. Even just adding a profile photo will get you 21 times more profile views (and make it 36 times more likely you’ll get a message).
So even if you do just one thing on LinkedIn to boost your chances of finding freelance work through it, get your profile right! Make sure you complete each section required to achieve LinkedIn’s All Star Status, and create a profile you’re proud of and that potential clients will love.
* Thanks to Wayne Yoshida for his advice on this point, and his recommendation of LinkedIn ProFinder.