LinkedIn is where the world's workforce connects, engages, and learns from each other. People turn to LinkedIn to find new business opportunities, and there's never been a time when it's been so popular.
So if you want to win business on LinkedIn, you need people to notice your LinkedIn profile.
This in-depth guide will help you do just that.
5 Reasons why Freelancers need to be on LinkedIn
Before we dive into the step-by-step guide, here are five reasons why you should be on LinkedIn (if you're not there already).
- Building a strong network is essential for your business growth.
- Relationships on LinkedIn have the potential to open up new opportunities.
- Recruiters and hiring managers constantly search for new talent on LinkedIn.
- Having an established LinkedIn presence builds trust & credibility.
- A LinkedIn profile is part of your brand's complete marketing efforts (and might be the first thing people see when they Google your name).
If you’re a freelancer or small business owner and don’t yet have a LinkedIn profile, now is the time to create one.
If you do have a profile – that's great, keep reading.
11 Steps To Optimize Your Personal LinkedIn Profile
This guide is in-depth, so grab a cup of coffee and get comfortable.
Also, be sure to download the free PDF above for later review.
1. Use your real name, and have a great profile image.
Like all other social platforms, using your real name is essential for building trust and credibility, and having a great looking profile image is key to getting attention.
Your profile image is the first thing people notice when they view your profile, and pictures are the first thing people notice when they scroll through a list of profiles in places such as search results, suggested friends to follow, inbox messages and more (as you'll see in step 2).
So while having a great profile photo might sound like an obvious step, you'll be amazed at how many people get it wrong.
Three guidelines for having a great profile image:
- Use a picture of yourself! Never use an icon, avatar, or random picture. If you don’t use a picture of yourself, no one will take you seriously. If someone invites me to connect – but doesn't have a profile image of himself – I instantly decline the invite.
- Make sure the picture is high quality, has good lighting, and good composition. You don’t need to go out of your way and hire a professional photographer for this, but at least make sure you’re taking the picture outside in good lighting, and that your face is clearly visible and the main focus of the image.
- Check if your profile photo is likable and if people connect to your profile image. You can do this by sending a couple of options to your family and friends and asking which they like most. Or you can use a service such as photofeeler, that gets you unbiased feedback (from real people) about your profile photo, and helps you make your best first impression online.
In addition to having a great looking profile image, it's important to have a unique and engaging background header image.
The best and easiest way to create one is by using Canva.
Canva is a handy tool for creating professional-quality social media graphics including these ready-made LinkedIn banner templates.
2. Have an engaging profile headline.
The first thing people see right after looking at your profile image is your headline text. This acts as a slogan or brief introduction about what you do.
Most people recommend using keywords in your headline because this allows search engines (including LinkedIn’s own search engine) to pick up on those keywords and then display your name higher up in the search results.
While I usually tend to agree and recommend the use of keywords in many places, on LinkedIn I personally chose to do something different, and use the real estate of my tagline to briefly explain who should be interested in my profile.
So I chose to write: I help brands increase awareness and teach freelancers how to grow their business. Top-rated freelancer on Upwork.
If I had chosen to go down the keyword path, I probably would have written something like this: Explainer Video | Freelancer | Blogger | Top Rated Upwork Professional.
Honestly, the second option might indeed be better for the robots and algorithms that control the search results. But I chose the first option because:
- I’m writing for humans.
- I believe that most people don’t find my profile via the search engine, but rather on places such as the ‘People also viewed’ section, the home feed, in groups, and in the notifications area (i.e. Daniel published a new post). When they see my name there, it always shows up with my profile tagline.
As you can see in the example below of the home feed, my profile image and name show up together with my tagline each time I share a new update on LinkedIn.
Your profile image and tagline will also show up when people view LinkedIn profiles that are similar to yours, under the “People also Viewed” section:
3. Get a personalized URL
Having a unique and customized URL on LinkedIn is one of the first things you should do. In fact, it’s one of the first things you should do on all social media platforms that allow it (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest).
Since you run a freelance business, and you are your own brand, be sure to add your own name to the URL.
For example, my URL is: https://www.linkedin.com/in/danielfuterman Here’s how you can
Here’s how you can customize your URL:
4. Have a powerful introduction section.
If you have a great profile image and headline, people will start checking out your profile page.
So, the next thing you should have is a really powerful summary.
This section should provide a more detailed explanation about what you do.
Remember, if someone clicked on your profile image to check out your profile, it means he wants to learn more about you.
Having a compelling summary of what you do is very important, and acts as another way for profile viewer to know if you are someone he would like to connect with.
To get ideas about how to write a great introduction section and a strategy for perfecting your Linkedin summary, be sure to check out this post – How to Write the Perfect LinkedIn Summary. You can also check out a few LinkedIn profiles that you know are successful, and write down what you liked about their summary.
If you’re a designer or motion graphics artist, be sure to add a few examples of your work to your profile. You do this by hovering above the small plus sign (see image below), that allows you to add images, videos, documents, or even presentations.
You can re-arrange the elements on your profile the way you want, by using the arrow next to the plus button.
5. Share your professional experience
If your summary is engaging and interesting, people will scroll down the page to check out your expertise.
Keep this section professional and related to your business. If you’re a freelance copywriter – don’t add your experience as a waitress back when you were in college.
But if you previously worked in an advertising agency as a copywriter, and now work as a freelance copywriter, by all means, add that experience to your profile.
The bottom line is – if your experience adds value and increases credibility to the profession you want to be known for – add it to your profile. If not, don’t.
Pro tip: Ask to be recommended.
For each expertise you add to your profile, you can ask your friends, colleagues, or clients, to write a recommendation on your expertise.
This is super powerful because one amazing recommendation can do miracles to your profile.
To ask to be recommended, on your profile page click on the arrow next to “View profile as”, and then click on “Ask to be recommended”.
Next, choose what field of work you'd like to be recommended for and select the contacts you’d like to ask for a recommendation from.
Once you send out the request, your contacts will receive a notification from you, asking them to write a short testimonial about your services.
After your contact writes the testimonial, it will appear right under the expertise you asked to recommend you for, and will also appear a separate section on your profile featuring all the recommendations you received.
6. List your skills
One of my favorite parts of the LinkedIn profile is the skills & endorsements section.
The skill section acts as ‘social proof’ on your profile, which shows in a quick glance what other people say you’re good at doing.
In this section, it’s important to add skills that truly represent what you’re good at, otherwise, people won’t endorse you.
Once you start collecting endorsements, you can select which endorsements you’d like to display on your profile, and you can also re-arrange the order in which your skills are displayed on your profile.
I recommend arranging your skills by your most important and most endorsed skills first.
7. Join groups and participate in conversations
One of the best ways to get attention to your profile is by joining relevant groups and participate in conversations relevant to your field of expertise.
When you join the conversation, don’t just add comments like ‘great post’ or ‘very interesting’. That won’t lead to anything.
Instead, take the time to write a detailed reply that adds value to the conversation.
The more value you provide, the more likely it is that people will respond to your comment, and check out your profile.
To find relevant groups to join, insert the keyword into the search field, and then narrow down the results to groups.
When you are deciding which groups to join, pay attention to the number of members in each group (i.e. don’t join a group that has 3 people in it), and also check whether or not the conversations in that group are active and recent (i.e. a group with posts from 2012, with no comments, wouldn’t be one I’d join).
If you’d like LinkedIn to suggest relevant groups for your to join, navigate to Interests -> Groups -> Discover to find groups related to your business.
Once you’ve joined a few groups, you can arrange their display order on your profile to better represent your interest.
To do this, navigate back to Interests -> Groups -> My Groups, and click on the gear icon in the top right corner.
Then rearrange the groups' display order according to what you want to display first on your profile:
Once you define which groups should appear first, they will show up on your profile according to your preferences:
If there are certain groups that you want to hide from your profile, navigate to the setting tab, and choose whether or not to display that group on your profile.
Next, make sure group members are allowed to send you messages via LinkedIn (this will allow people to connect with you directly).
And you can also indicate if you want to receive an email digest from LinkedIn, that summarized all of the activities that took place in the group you joined.
8. Publish posts.
A couple of years ago LinkedIn introduced publishing tools, allowing all members to share a long-form post on LinkedIn.
“Our publishing platform allows members, in addition to Influencers, to publish long-form posts about their expertise and interests. While publishing a long-form post doesn't mean you're a LinkedIn Influencer, it does allow you to further establish your professional identity by expressing your opinions and sharing your experiences.”
Just like you write blog posts for your personal website to build authority in your field of expertise, now you can leverage LinkedIn's publishing tools to do the same.
There are two benefits of publishing posts directly on LinkedIn:
- They show up in a dedicated section in your profile.
- Each time you share a new post, all your followers get a notification about the post you published.
9. Add contact information.
As we mentioned at the start, LinkedIn is a professional network. So one of the main reasons for having a LinkedIn profile is to allow users to contact you and potentially hire you for a job.
LinkedIn allows you to send messages to your contacts using their own messaging platform (which seriously improved during the past few years), but it still has limited features.
So if you’d like to offer people more ways to reach out, add your contact details to your profile:
10. Share updates.
Like all other social platforms, LinkedIn allows you to share updates with your network.
The key when sharing content on LinkedIn is to share content that is related to your business and is relevant for your target audience.
To share an update, navigate to the home feed tab, and click on share an update, upload an image.
Pro tip: Schedule updates.
You can use tools like Buffer to schedule posts that will be sent out during the week or month, instead of manually sharing updates each time.
11. Add honors and awards.
If you’ve received any awards that help build credibility and authority in your field, be sure to add them to your profile.
The awards will be featured under the relevant sections on your profile that relate to that award, and in a dedicated section that features all of your awards.
Bonus tip – Find work on LinkedIn.
Did you know that you can actively search for work on LinkedIn?
Maybe not, and that's ok.
Honestly – while the option to find freelance work on LinkedIn does exist, I have never actively searched for work there.
For me, the best part about LinkedIn is the fact that people can find my profile and connect with me directly.
But since the option of finding freelance work on LinkedIn exists, I’ll mention it in case you find it helpful.
To search for jobs on LinkedIn, head over to the Jobs tab in the top toolbar (https://www.linkedin.com/jobs/).
In the search bar insert “Freelance Your Field”, enter a location, and click search.
For example, a search for Freelance Designer results in 77 open jobs.
But an even more interesting and hidden tool on Linkedin is the ProFinder feature.
The ProFinder feature works very similarly to the freelancing platforms we mentioned in this post: 4 effective strategies to find freelance work (scroll down to strategy 2).
When a client initiates a new job on LinkedIn ProFinder, he is asked to fill in a questionnaire about the work he needs to be done, and then LinkedIn helps connect that client to a freelancer who is a good match for their needed skills.
If you want to apply to join the ProFinder program as a freelancer, you can apply using this link: https://www.linkedin.com/profinder/pros
LinkedIn is the only social media network created solely for the purpose of connecting the world's professionals to make them more productive and successful.
To win business on LinkedIn, you need people to notice your profile.
If you followed this extensive guide packed full of actionable tactics, you will put yourself in a position to get more attention and win more business.