For freelance consultants, LinkedIn is one of the best ways to get a steady stream of well-qualified leads for your business. In fact, if you don’t have a strong presence on LinkedIn, you’re leaving money on the table.
LinkedIn is the premier business and professional social media platform in the world. By publishing information about yourself and your business on LinkedIn, you have a virtually unlimited audience of potential customers, partners, business associates, suppliers, and just about anyone else you need. You’d have to be crazy to pass up on reaching even a small part of that market.
But how does a freelancer take advantage of the many features of LinkedIn?
LinkedIn is not a Sales Tool
Don’t use LinkedIn as a tool to sell your products or services. That doesn’t work well on this platform. Everyone has a product or service that they’re trying to sell, and it’s tiring to receive an endless bombardment of “buy this,” and “buy that!” After a while, posts, messages, and other attempts to make sales are simply tuned out and serve no purpose at all.
That’s one of the reasons why advertising has become less and less effective over the years. The average person is bombarded with so many ads that they don’t even see them anymore. This has led to “very good” click through rates well under 1/10 of 1%. Compare that to a decade ago, when click through rates of over 5% were commonplace.
Define Your Brand
What do you do instead of selling? Define your brand, or, to put it another way, communicate your message to your audience. Instead of telling everybody that you want them to buy your widgets or your widget installation service, give them information about you, your business, the problems that you solve, and why you are qualified to address those problems.
Define the Problems that you Solve
The best way to get qualified leads on LinkedIn is to be very clear and specific about the problems that you solve. By being specific, you give your audience something to sink their teeth into and decide whether you are the correct person to address their needs. If your profile is too general, they will more than likely keep looking for someone that addresses the specific issue they’re trying to resolve.
For example, suppose you are a freelancer offering technical writing services. What problem are you solving? Does their target audience lack the staff to do technical writing? Do they lack the expertise to create infographics and other documents? By understanding your brand and the problems that you solve, you should be able to write a very good LinkedIn profile that attracts qualified business leads.
You might say, for example, that you are a ghostwriter. But what problem does a ghostwriter solve? Is it a lack of time? Money? Writing experience? In this case, start off by saying you are a ghostwriter of business related books, then state the problems, or reasons, why someone needs a ghostwriter.
Explain why you are Credible
Once you’ve established your brand – in our example a ghostwriter – and the problems that you can help with – staffing and writing experience – then you need to establish why you are the best solution to those problems. You might state that you ghostwrote 12 books to completion, include a couple of testimonials from happy customers, or even include a link or two for books that have been published if that’s acceptable to your clients.
Use the projects, awards, and organizations sections of LinkedIn to add even more credibility to your background.
• Include half a dozen projects related directly to your brand that you completed or have in progress. This allows you to add more details to show your prospective clients what you’ve done or are in the process of doing.
• If you have won any awards, include those to establish your credibility at a higher level. Awards are impressive because they show that others value your expertise.
• Make sure you’re a member of organizations related to your field, and include those in the organization section of LinkedIn. This demonstrates that you are engaged in your profession.
• If you have certifications, list them in the certification section. If you don’t have any, go out and get some. Certifications indicate that you have knowledge in your field and can prove it by having passed tests. Be sure to list any courses that you take in the courses section to further demonstrate your expertise.
One of the most important things that you can do to add credibility to the claims that you make on your LinkedIn profile is to get recommendations from others.
You should have a recommendation on LinkedIn from every satisfied customer. This should be built into your process. Be sure to get the recommendation as soon as possible within your workflow. You can even go so far as to get recommendations from different people at the same customer.
One trick is to write the recommendation for your customer, then send it to them as a recommendation request with instructions that all they need to do is copy and paste it into the right place. This will improve your chances of receiving a recommendation dramatically.
Also get recommendations from any keynote speakers, authors, influencers, or anyone else with any name recognition in your field or that your customers would recognize.
These add credibility to your brand and your business.
LinkedIn is a tool like any other tool. Use it properly and you will get the results you expect. Market yourself by clearly communicating your brand, defining the problems that you solve, and stating why you are the best person or business for the job.
A profile which tells this kind of story will get you qualified leads which you can turn into business.