LinkedIn is the go-to social network for professionals, and with good reasons too. The user base is enormous, with almost 590 million users. More importantly, LinkedIn is responsible for 64% of all visits from social media sites to business websites. It indicates how popular and effective LinkedIn marketing is.
As a freelancer, LinkedIn is one channel you can’t afford to skip. Whether you are a freelance writer or developer, you can be sure to reach your potential clients through LinkedIn. So the question becomes, how to attract new clients using LinkedIn marketing?
In this guide, we explore the different aspects of LinkedIn marketing that freelancers can use to attract clients.
1. How to create an impressive LinkedIn profile?
Step 1: Add a professional looking display picture and cover photo
LinkedIn is a platform for professionals. The first step towards LinkedIn marketing success — make sure your profile picture and cover photo look professional.
Your profile picture pops up everywhere — from LinkedIn Messaging Inbox to the newsfeed of your connections. The same image gets picked up when you integrate LinkedIn with third-party apps. Ideally, it should be a headshot or the logo of your freelance business.
Here a few tips to keep in mind while selecting a profile picture:
- It should be pleasant, professional, recognisable, and up-to-date.
- The ideal LinkedIn profile picture size is 400 x 400 pixels. Use resizeimage.net to resize the image, if needed.
- Square images work the best.
- Don’t use selfies as your display picture.
The cover picture will be visible to everyone who visits your LinkedIn profile. Use it to communicate who you are, your work style, and the values you stand for. Ensure it supports, promotes, and grows your brand awareness. The ideal LinkedIn cover photo dimension is 1584 x 396 pixels.
Step 2: Fill out your LinkedIn profile
Filling up your profile may seem like a gruelling task, but it is well worth the effort. Users with completed profiles are 40 times more likely to receive opportunities through LinkedIn.
A completed profile enables clients to find and know more about you — your educational background, your work experience, your capabilities, and how trustworthy you are.
There is a whole range of fields for you to fill, including:
Let everyone know who you are and what you do in 120 characters. It is one of the most visible aspects of your profile. On top of that, it is critical from a search perspective, so ensure it is keyword optimised. If you leave the field blank, by default LinkedIn displays your current role.
It is an optional field. That doesn’t mean you should leave it empty. Provide a brief description of who you are and why/how you fell in love with your job. Also include your specialities, your skills, your experience, and the type of work you want to do. Be clear and concise. Approach it like a cover letter. The character limit is 2000 (300 words approximately).
List down all the work experience you have. Start with the different companies you have worked for full-time, part-time, and as an intern. For each entry, include your core responsibilities, deliverables, measurables, and the outcome achieved.
As a freelancer, you can list down all the major projects you have worked on individually. Categorise the minor ones under a separate label ‘Freelancing’.
Let people know your educational details including your degrees and the colleges you attended.
For each entry, add a brief description of the course, what you learned, and significant achievements. Also, include the extra-curricular activities you were involved in.
This section is crucial for networking purposes.
Add all the skills you possess. You can sort them according to their importance. Besides that, you can select three skills to be featured on your profile as ‘Top Skills’.
Listing them is only half the job done, reach out to your former clients to get endorsements. Every endorsement you get improves your credibility.
f. Projects and Publications
Under these two sections, you can list the projects you have worked on and the publications you have written. LinkedIn lets you add PDF documents, website links, images, videos, and slideshows of the same. Be sure to add a brief description along with the link to set the context. It increases the chances of readers clicking through.
Ensure the content you add is relevant to your niche. If you are a freelance web designer, it could be a link to a website you designed or an article you wrote for a popular design blog or magazine.
g. Contact info
Add your email address, a link to your portfolio website, social media handles, and so on.
Other sections include certifications, accomplishments, volunteer experience, the languages you know, and interests. Be sure to fill everything that is relevant to you. The more information you have, the better.
Here are a few pro-tips that you should keep in mind:
- While entering your experience, be sure to select the company’s official page from the suggestion. It increases your chances of being found.
- Personalise your profile’s URL according to your niche. Makes it easier to use it in your branding. For instance, if you are a virtual assistant, it can be something like ‘yournamevirtualassistant’.
- Add relevant images, videos, slideshows, documents or links in your summary, experience, projects, and publications. It helps showcase your capabilities, establish credibility, and make your profile visually appealing.
- Ensure you include relevant keywords in fields such as Headline, Summary, Experience, and so on.
- Always follow a ‘show, not tell’ approach while filling up these fields. Add data, work samples, and your achievements to back up your claims.
- Be sure to add a link to your online portfolio.
- Ensure you add work samples, especially under the freelancing label in the experience section.
- Visit settings and turn off the ‘share updates with your connections’ feature while you are tweaking your profile. Otherwise, your connections will be spammed with your updates.
- Write your details in first person and not third person. For that’s how you interact in interviews.
- Use a professional yet friendly and conversational tone. Potential clients will find you relatable and approachable.
- You can rearrange the elements on your profile the way you want, by clicking the reorder button below to the edit button.
- Request every client that you have worked with to endorse your skills immediately after completing a project. Also, request colleagues and peers to do the same.
- Use third-party content management tools to schedule and automate content sharing. It makes the whole process hassle-free.
2. How to use Groups for LinkedIn marketing?
Now that you have set up your profile for LinkedIn marketing success, the next step is to bring potential clients to your profile. One way to do it — join relevant LinkedIn groups and participate in discussions.
Here’s how you can get started:
Step 1: Find relevant groups
Search for keywords pertinent to your niche. For instance, if you are a social media marketer, search for Facebook marketing, Twitter marketing, SMM trends, and so on.
Filter the search results so that it shows only ‘Groups’. Then, join only those groups that have an engaging audience. Don’t join inactive groups where no discussions take place or groups with very few members. Here’s a list of some excellent LinkedIn Groups.
While shortlisting groups, find out if any of your connections are already a part of the group. Get their opinion about the group to see if it is worth joining.
Some of the LinkedIn Groups are private, meaning you will have to wait till the admin approves your membership. And the maximum number of groups you can join is 100. Also, every group will have some group rules, make sure you follow them. Otherwise, you might get kicked out.
Step 2: Introduce yourself
Once again, turn to your connections who are already part of the group, and request them to introduce you to the group members. An introduction from a former client can be ideal. It shows you are trustworthy and capable. More importantly, it tells everyone that you are a real person — makes you more approachable.
If you don’t know anyone in the group, try connecting with someone who is an active contributor to the group. Request them to introduce you.
Step 3: Engage, engage, and engage
Before you start participating in discussions, review the existing threads, conversations, comments, and the content that is being shared. This information will give you an insight into what works and what doesn’t, and how to add value.
When you add value and be helpful, you will be able to interact with group members much more easily. Also remember, you need to consistently engage with your fellow group members. Participating once in a month doesn’t make sense.
Here are a few tips to remember when participating in a LinkedIn Group:
a. Always be helpful
Go above and beyond to be helpful. That’s how you gain top-of-mind awareness. It also shows that you are here to contribute and not just to promote your own work.
b. Two-way learning
Be sure to answer questions and participate in relevant discussions. This way you can understand clients’ problems, their attitude towards it, and whether the solutions you offer are working or not. It is a two-way learning process.
You are learning new things about your clients, and they are learning from the resources or the answers you contribute.
c. Share relevant content
Make it a point to share relevant and helpful content that you come across on the internet. It could be blog posts, videos, infographics, podcasts, webinars, and so on.
You can even add them to comments as a reply when a relevant discussion is going on. Always remember to add a small snippet about the content you share and how it helps.
d. Be subtle about self-promotion
You can also share your content as long it is relevant and helpful. But, don’t overdo it. Always maintain a balance. Try sharing teasers of downloadable resources, and invite interested parties to sign-up to your email list to get the complete version.
Additionally, don’t use the words ‘me’, ‘I’, or ‘my’ while sharing them. It increases your chances of ending up in the ‘promotions’ tab.
Step 4: Pitch your service
Once you become a popular member of the group, start communicating to people about the services you offer. Understand the pain points of prospects and frame your pitch around it.
Also, try exclusive offers for group members — makes them all the more tempting. It might fetch you more referrals too. You can even invite group members for a free consultation call. Nothing works like a one-on-one conversation. Communicate your knowledge of their pain points and pitch how you plan to solve them.
Pro-tip: It is not necessary to connect with fellow group members to send them messages. Linkedin lets you send 15 free 1:1 group messages to fellow members each month.
3. How to use LinkedIn for client outreach?
LinkedIn is an excellent tool for outreach. According to a survey, 59 per cent of B2B marketers voted LinkedIn as their number one social network for lead generation.
Although freelance marketing is not the same, the statistics indicate that LinkedIn is a great platform to build relationships, generate leads and grow your business.
Here’s how you should go about incorporating outreach to your LinkedIn marketing strategy:
Step 1: Do your research
Sending connection requests and then pitching prospects out of the blue won’t earn you any results. First of all, conduct thorough research about your prospects.
Visit their profile, read their profile description, check out their website, find out their requirements, and then send a connection request. Be sure to personalise your connection request.
Being meticulous with your research ensures your target audience is accurate.
Step 2: Build a rapport with the prospects
After your connect request is accepted, don’t pitch your services straightaway. Engage with them first, and find out what their pain points and interests. If you have common connections, request them to introduce you to the prospect. Help them whenever possible by sharing content or answering questions, and so on. You can also invite them to subscribe to your newsletter.
Step 3: Send personalised pitches
Once you have become a helpful resource for them, the next stage is to pitch your product or service. Frame a personalised message focused on the prospect’s pain points.
Ensure the message is short and straightforward. Don’t go on and on about your achievements or skills. Instead, talk about how you helped former clients achieve their goals.
Pro-tips to help you improve your outreach efforts
Active status – LinkedIn messaging has an active status, ensure you turn it on by visiting this page. It indicates that you are online and is available to chat.
Send voice recordings – Instead of typing out text messages, send voice recordings. It saves time as well as makes you more relatable. Voice messaging is available on LinkedIn’s iOS and Android apps.
LinkedIn Nearby – This function allows you to find profiles of people near to your location. It can be handy when you attend conferences and workshops.
LinkedIn Native video – LinkedIn now allows you to record videos and add it to your newsfeed. You can conduct Q&A sessions with your prospects right from LinkedIn.
Bonus tip: In addition to prospect outreach, reach out to former clients, colleagues, and managers to get recommendations. It is a handy way to increase your credibility and trustworthiness.
LinkedIn has made the asking-for-recommendations process rather easy. You can finish it in a couple of minutes. Visit the profile of a former client, click on More icon in the top section of their profile. Then, select ‘request a recommendation’, and fill out the details.
Here is an example of how these recommendations will appear on your profile.
Freelancing life certainly has its disadvantages. Being pressed for time is a major one. Often you will have a lot of things on your plate. That’s why marketing efforts usually take a backseat, especially LinkedIn marketing.
However, LinkedIn is a channel you can’t skip. It is an excellent tool for generating leads. But, how do you go about doing all the tasks listed above? My advice would be to take it slow. Be patient, break it down to smaller tasks, and batch process them. Use a project management tool to help you stay on track.
LinkedIn marketing success requires a lot of dedication and planning. Stay organised, be patient, be helpful, and never stop engaging with people.
Want to further your freelancing career? Check out TapChief. It is a platform where you can find open projects, interact with prospective clients, join communities of freelancers, and more.