LinkedIn is exploding these days.

It's never been more popular, and its business potential is huge.

This 11-step guide will help you:

👉 Effectively set up your LinkedIn profile to attract more leads.
👉
Complete your LinkedIn profile to unlock All-Star status.
👉 Show you how to find work on the platform.
👉 Explore types of content you can share.

Before we dive in, here's a quick story.

I recently shared a post, that was seen by 7,345 people.

That post got a lot of traction, which is nice... but more importantly:

The post was seen by my ideal target audience, many of whom then checked out my profile, reached out, or visited my website.

This guide is detailed and packed with screenshots, to help you follow along step by step and apply these tactics to your profile.

In a hurry? Grab the free PDF 👇

The challenge of attracting leads

As a freelancer or small business owner, you may find it difficult to attract business through LinkedIn. I know this from my own experience.

But after analyzing successful content creators and experimenting with many different things... I realized it all comes down to two things:

  1. Optimize your LinkedIn profile for conversions [this is what we'll cover in this guide].
  2. Share content and engage with your target audience [we will touch on this too].

Think about it as a marketing funnel with two parts.

-> Your profile: Your landing page to invite people to your funnel.

-> Your content: Attracts your target audience to your landing page.

What is a marketing funnel?

A marketing funnel is how you attract leads to your business.

It can be broken down into these 4 steps:

Awareness -> Interest -> Intent -> Action.

Here's what that looks like from a linkedIn perspective.

  1. Awareness = Sharing content. Your target audience becomes aware of you and your work through the valuable content you share. More on this later on.
  2. Interest = Your tagline + image. Your readers read your tagline and click through to see your profile (aka, your landing page) to learn more about you.
  3. Intent = Your profile. If you seem like a good fit, they will reach out, or click through to your website to explore further. They are now exploring your work further and showing an intent to take action.
  4. Action = Your goal. Your audience is now engaged and wants to connect with you. They are on your site to take action. For example: book a call, subscribe, or purchase.

To summarize this intro:

-> To invite people into your funnel, you need to write content.

-> Before sharing content, you want to optimize your LinkedIn profile.

This guide will help you optimize your LinkedIn profile.

11 Steps to optimize your LinkedIn profile to attract leads

This guide is in-depth and provides a step-by-step guide with screenshots to show you how to do each step.

So grab a cup of coffee... and let's go!

1. Use your real name. Have a great profile image.

The first and most obvious step in optimizing your LinkedIn profile is using your real name, and having a compelling profile image. It is essential for building trust and credibility.

Why? Because people connect with people.

Your profile image is the first thing people notice when they see your profile in the feed, search results, suggested friends to follow, inbox messages, and more.

3 tips to create a great LinkedIn profile image

1. Use a picture of yourself.

Don't use an icon, avatar, or random picture.

Save that for your company page.

Sure, there can be exceptions, but as a general rule of thumb, I'd recommend using a real image of yourself.

2. Make sure your image is high quality and clear.

You don't need to hire a professional photographer for this (even though there's nothing wrong with that).

Best practices for a good profile image:

-> Use a picture that has good lighting, so your face is visible and the focus of the image. Also, smiling is often more inviting.

-> Do not use a photo that is blurry, dark, or has a lot of distractions in the background.

3. Check if your profile image is inviting and represent your brand.

If your profile photo is inviting, people will probably find it easier to connect with you.

To check this, you can just ask your family and friends to pick their favorite profile picture to see which one is more inviting.

That's what I did.

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.

Pro tip:

LinkedIn provides you with valuable real estate on your profile, with a header image. Use this space to show what you do and why your target audience should care.

The easiest way to create a LinkedIn header is by using Canva.

Canva is a handy tool for creating professional-quality social media graphics including these ready-made LinkedIn banner templates.

If you have more advanced knowledge of design tools, Figma is another great choice (I designed my cover in Figma).

2. Your headline: The key to attracting your target audience

The next thing people see right after your profile image is your tagline.

Your tagline is a great way to attract your audience to click on your profile and learn more about you (i.e., move from awareness to interest).

How to write a LinkedIn tagline

There is no one right way to write a LinkedIn tagline.

But your goal should be to create enough interest, either through curiosity, clarity, authority, or any other way that fits your brand, to spark the type of emotion you want to evoke.

For example, in my own tagline, I state how I can help my two target audiences: tech startups and freelance creatives.

And I also added a small glimpse of my personality and faith.

I make ~77 second videos to explain your tech startup 👉 DM to have a chat ⚡ I also help freelance creatives grow their business → and unlock more time 💡 "One person gives freely, yet gains even more" Proverbs 11:24

LinkedIn tagline examples

Here are a few ideas for how you can structure your tagline.

You can use a simple, one-line headline that tells people what you do. For example, “I'm a creative thinker and a people person.”

You can include a short line describing your current role, for example: "Creative Director and Amigo Motion animation studio".

You can also use a more creative and niched headline that is laser-focused on your industry. For example, “The Communication Coach for Fortune 50 Sales and Marketing Teams.”

If you have a lot of experience in your field, you may want to use a headline that highlights your years of experience. For example, “20+ Years of Communication Consulting For the World's Most Known Brands”.

Finally, you can use a headline that is more personal. For example, “Helping You Find Your Voice. Reach out to have a talk.”

After you've decided on a headline, check that it's clear and easy to read. Avoid abbreviations or acronyms that are hard to understand.

To summarize, when writing your tagline aim to spark the emotion that suits your brand voice. And remember, you are writing for humans, not robots.

Where will your LinkedIn tagline will be seen

Your headline might appear in these other places:

  • ‘People also viewed’ section
  • 'People who viewed your profile'
  • In posts and comments you write
  • The home feed
  • In groups

Here is an example of my tagline showing up in the side feed:

LinkedIn profile in sidebar relater

3. Get a personalized URL

This one is super simple and easy to apply.

As a freelancer, you are your own brand. So you want to make sure to claim your custom URL for your LinkedIn profile.

A custom URL is a link that includes your name instead of having a random string of number like: linkedin.com/in/13213821938264

For example, mine is: https://www.linkedin.com/in/danielfuterman

Tip: You should also claim your name on all other social media platforms that allow it (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Pinterest).

Here’s a detail guide on how to claim your customized URL on LinkedIn.

How to customize your LinkedIn profile

4. Write a strong intro section

Now that people are visiting your profile, it means they want to know more about you.

Can you help them solve their problem?
Why should they approach you for the job?

Here too, there's no one size fits all.

Your intro can be short and to the point. Or, you can go into more detail about your experience and how you can help solve a problem.

For example, my previous intro was very short.

But my new intro is long, and written directly to my two target audiences.

My first target audience, is freelance creatives looking to grow their business while unlocking more time.

My second target audience is seed to series a/b startups ready to invest in video. That's what I do in my studio.

Check out this post for more ideas on writing an effective introduction section on LinkedIn: How to Write the Perfect LinkedIn Summary.

If you're a freelance creative, add a few examples of your work to your profile.

You do this by hovering above the small plus sign, that allows you to add images, videos, documents, or even presentations.

Add media linkedin profile

Pro tip

You can rearrange the elements on your profile the way you want, by using the arrow next to the plus button.

re arrange linkedin profile

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 previously worked in an advertising agency as a copywriter, and now work as a freelance copywriter, add that experience to your profile.

If your experience adds value and increases credibility to the profession you want to be known for – add it to your profile.

You can also use this place to add past client reviews.

Pro tip: Ask for recommendations

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 very effective because reviews increase credibility.

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”.

How to ask for LinkedIn Recommendations

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.

LinkedIn Recommendation

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 in a dedicated section featuring all the recommendations you received.

6. List your skills

LinkedIn allows you to add skills to your profile. This section provides potential clients with another quick glimpse at what you can offer.

The skill section is another ‘social proof’ section, which shows what past client say about you.

In this section, it is important to add skills that truly represent what you are good at, otherwise people will not endorse you.

LinkedIn Skills and endorsements section

Pro tip:

Once you start collecting endorsements, you can select which endorsements you’d like to display on your profile, and you can also rearrange 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.

How to rearrange endorsements on your LinkedIn profile

7. Join and engage in groups

One of the best ways to get attention participating in conversations relevant to your field of expertise.

When you engage with your community, don’t just add comments like ‘great post’ or ‘very interesting’. That won’t lead to anything.

Instead, add 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.

LinkedIn Groups

When choosing which groups to join, consider the number of members in each group.

You don't want to join a group with only three people. Also, check whether the conversations in the group are active and recent. A group with posts from 2012 and no comments is not one I would 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.

How to find groups in Linkedin

Pro tips:

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.

Rearrange groups in Linkedin

Then rearrange the groups' display order according to what you want to display first on your profile:

How to rearrange groups order on your linkedin profile

Once you define which groups should appear first, they will show up on your profile according to your preferences:

Display relevant groups on your profile

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.

LinkedIn Group Settings

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.

Display group logo on your profile

8. Publish content and engage

Writing content on LinkedIn is the most effective way to attract new leads. As we covered earlier, it's the most effective way to create awareness and lead people into your funnel.

Here are the three ways to share content on LinkedIn

  1. Share short-form posts (text, images, videos).
  2. Comment on other peoples posts.
  3. Write long-form content.

Short form content

Sharing short form content attracts people to your profile. And doing so regularly, helps drive consistent traffic into the awareness stage.

For example, a recent post I shared got a lot of traction.

And when when you share posts on LinkedIn you can see analytics of how many people engaged.

To share posts on LinkedIn, click on the LinkedIn logo in the top left corner, and then click on "start a post".

What types of content should you share?

Ideally, you want to write content that is relevant to your target audience.

Consider one of the following:

  • Educational content (explain a topic).
  • Show your work (and what you learned from doing it).
  • Inspirational/Motivations content.
  • List curation (i.e. top tools).
  • Entertaining content.

A book I can highly recommend is called "Show your work" by Austin Kleon.

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.

How to schedule linkedin posts with buffer

Pro tip: turn on "Creator mode"

If you plan to share content regularly, which is something you should strongly consider, you want to turn on creator mode.

With creator mode enabled:

  • Your content get discovered more.
  • You showcase content on your profile.
  • You get access to additional creator tools.

Also, you can add "topics I write about" in creator mode.

These topics will appear right under your profile headline.

Sharing long form content

A few years ago LinkedIn introduced publishing tools, allowing all members to share a long-form post on LinkedIn.

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.

Two benefits of publishing posts directly on LinkedIn:

  1. They show up in a dedicated section in your profile.
  2. Each time you share a new post, all your followers get a notification about the post you published.
Publish LinkedIn posts

9. Add contact information

LinkedIn is a professional network, which means if people are showing interest in your profile, they might now want to contact you for a job.

LinkedIn allows you to send messages to your contacts using their own messaging platform - Inmails.

But if you want people to be able to reach you more easily, add your contact information to your profile.

You contant info will appear on your profile tab.

10. 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.

Add awards on Linkedin Profile

11. Find work on LinkedIn.

Apart from letting work and clients reach you, you can also actively search for work on LinkedIn.

To search for jobs on LinkedIn, head over to the Jobs tab in the top toolbar.

In the search bar insert “Freelance [Your Field]”, enter a location, and click search. You can filter the projects by work location (remote, on site, hybrid)

For example, a search for Freelance Designer results in 77 open jobs.

Find work in Linkedin

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).

LinkedIn Pro Finder

When a client starts a new job on LinkedIn ProFinder, he fills out a questionnaire about the work he needs done.

LinkedIn then connects the client to a freelancer who is a good match for their needed skills.

Linkedin Pro finder client view

If you want to apply to join the ProFinder program as a freelancer, you can apply here.

How to apply to LinkedIn Pro Finder
Get a free PDF of this post to follow along again later ↓

To recap

  1. Use your real name, and have a compelling profile image.
  2. Optimize your headline: The hook to attract your target audience
  3. Get a personalized URL.
  4. Have a strong introduction section.
  5. Share your professional experience.
  6. List skills relevant to your expertise.
  7. Join groups and participate in conversations
  8. Publish content.
  9. Add your contact information.
  10. Add honors and awards.
  11. Actively search for work on LinkedIn.

Optimize your LinkedIn profile today

Here are five more reasons to take LinkedIn seriously.

  • To grow your business, you need to build a strong network.
  • LinkedIn relationships can open up new opportunities.
  • Recruiters and hiring managers use LinkedIn to find talent.
  • An established LinkedIn presence builds trust & credibility.
  • Your LinkedIn profile is part of your brand's marketing efforts. It might be the first thing people see when they Google your name.

If you’re a freelancer, solopreneur, or small business owner, now is the time take you LinkedIn profile to the next level.

If you follow this extensive guide of actionable tips, you will put yourself in a position to get more attention and win more business.

Thanks to readers like you, this post has ranked on spots 1-2 on Google search result for the term "Freelance linkedin profile" since I originally wrote it in 2016.

Learn more about how I spotted this trend and how you can apply the same strategy to increase organic search traffic to your site.

Found this post helpful? Here are 3 ways I can help:

1. Get 2 actionable emails a month on how to grow your freelance business while unlocking more of your time.

2. Get a ~77 second video to explain your tech startup. Best fit for seed to series A/B startups looking to grow brand awareness and scale growth.

3. Download digital products to help accelerate your freelance business. Buy animation templates to speed up your video projects.