Tips for Using Your LinkedIn Profile to Find Ideal Freelance Clients
By Jena Kroeker
Was there a time when you didn’t realize you needed tips for LinkedIn profile activities? For some of us, LinkedIn didn’t seem like an active social network. We’d set up our profile like a digital resume and invite people to connect. But those connections were often like a stamp collection — valuable, yet static. They didn’t go anywhere, and they didn’t send ideal clients our way. Our profile was something we’d “set and forget.”
However, LinkedIn is anything but static. According to the statistics portal Statista, it’s “become one of the largest platforms for job seekers, employers, and recruiters from around the world,” and it’s “one of the most popular social networks worldwide.”
Indeed, Statista projects that there will be 1,034.56 million LinkedIn users in the world by 2025, compared with 774.61 million in 2021.
And LinkedIn itself shares the following statistics showing “a community of 850+ Members” in 200 countries and regions around the world.
Why Use LinkedIn to Find Clients
Reasons to actively use LinkedIn become even more compelling when we take a closer look. In her article titled “37 LinkedIn Statistics You Need To Know In 2022,” Christina Newberry and Claire Beveridge
share encouraging information, including the fact that “6 people are hired through LinkedIn every minute.”
And in his article titled “25+ Latest LinkedIn Statistics: Usage, Facts, And Trends (2022),” Christopher Benitez says,
“Reports say that LinkedIn is one of the most trusted sources for US-based users along with Pinterest and Reddit. Out of the 9 social media platforms represented in the survey, Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook landed on the bottom of the list.
“This is a clear indication that LinkedIn isn’t down for the count as some might want you to believe. People still rely on it for credible information.”
Finally, in Freelance University’s “LinkedIn Marketing Specialist” course, FreeU co-founder and instructor Craig Cannings sums up the four main business benefits of using LinkedIn:
• Introduce client prospects to your professional brand.
• Make meaningful connections with a target client audience.
• Boost credibility through your profile and content.
• All business…all the time!
Tips for Using Your LinkedIn Profile to Find Ideal Clients
So, how do you optimize your LinkedIn profile and activities so you can attract potential clients? First, you need to adopt the proper perspective. Sarah Turner has a great way of describing it in her article, “How to Find Clients on LinkedIn: 4 Proven Steps for Powerful Freelancers.” She says,
“LinkedIn used to be a buttoned-up platform for sharing your professional background. Now, it leans more towards a professional social networking site.”
And she shares this valuable perspective to keep in mind:
“Using LinkedIn is like going to a virtual networking mixer. You can connect with others in a more casual format that’s still professional.”
Now, let’s flesh out that image. Have you seen the movie Field of Dreams? If so, you may be familiar with the line, “If you build it, he will come.” The character Ray Kinsella, played by Kevin Costner, hears a voice whispering these words and is prompted to build a baseball field.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could do the same thing with our LinkedIn profiles? Build the profile, log out, and simply watch the clients come to us. Not so, unfortunately. As Seth Godin says,
“ ‘Build it, and they will come’ only works in the movies. Social Media is a ‘build it, nurture it, engage them, and they may come and stay.’ ”
Let’s unpack this quote to reveal four important tips for LinkedIn profile activities:
1. Build it.
First of all, you need to build your LinkedIn presence, including two important elements — your profile and company page. As you do so, think about this quote from Mari Smith, one of “55 Inspiring Social Media Quotes from Top Social Media Influencers” shared by Werner Geyser:
“With social media so prevalent we are all EXTREMELY visible. Your prospective clients, your peers and your competition can drill as deep as they wish searching, reading and gathering information online about you and posted by you without you ever knowing who’s searching. Depending on what they find, your prospects may choose to do business with you or not.”
Consequently, it’s essential to optimize your LinkedIn profile so you make the best possible impression on your target audience. In the course mentioned above, Craig Cannings recommends thinking of your profile like a sales page instead of a digital resume, incorporating the following elements:
• Headline (relevant tagline)
• Benefit-oriented copy (services, about summary)
• Compelling graphics / media (header image, featured content)
• Deliverables (about summary)
• Proof (work experience, accomplishments, skill endorsements, recommendations, education, licenses and certifications).
These elements are in addition to a quality headshot, contact information, custom URL, volunteer experience, and pronunciation audio (where you can record a welcome message), to name a few examples. You’ll also want to include relevant keywords in your profile to optimize it for LinkedIn search. In our previous blog post, “
In addition to the profile, be sure to build a Company Page that can also be discovered in LinkedIn search. As Craig Cannings says, the Company Page establishes brand recognition and trust while providing an additional business presence to showcase your services and products so you can drive traffic to your website and generate new client leads. Notably, it allows you to add your logo to the “Work Experience” section of your profile.
Most importantly, remember this distinction outlined by Jessica Pereira in her article, “How To Get More Clients Using LinkedIn (Without Cold Pitching)”:
“A LinkedIn profile means your page is filled out like a resume. You list your experience and contact info in a passive voice, and your brand isn’t incorporated into your profile.
“An optimized LinkedIn profile is set up for your future clients. Your brand is implemented throughout the page and your copy tells clients what you can do for them and how they can contact you.”
2. Nurture it.
Now that you’ve built and optimized your LinkedIn profile and Company Page, you need to nurture both them and your connections. This is where we start talking about tips for LinkedIn profile activities. You can loosen up a bit and make your presence known in this “virtual networking mixer.”
First of all, it’s important to post regularly on LinkedIn so you become visible in search, build credibility in your niche, and drive traffic to your website. As an example, the article above quotes a 2x higher engagement rate for companies that share weekly posts on LinkedIn and warns,
“Don’t think you can just let your LinkedIn Company Page sit there idle. You need to regularly share updates to maintain a high engagement rate on LinkedIn. The good news is you only need to post once a week to achieve that higher engagement level.”
To that end, Craig Cannings suggests these types of LinkedIn posts in the course mentioned above:
• Link or image posts (content that is either owned or curated by you)
• Document posts (e.g. guides, templates, infographics, and more)
• LinkedIn Articles (written by you to establish your credibility and authority in your niche)
• LinkedIn native video (short videos you create within LinkedIn)
• LinkedIn Live video (livestream events you broadcast within LinkedIn)
As always, post with your target audience in mind. Ask yourself what kind of relevant content would provide value to clients while showcasing your expertise and personality. You may want to create a schedule so you alternate the types of posts. For instance, you could share a quote image, a “slice of life” post (showing an image of your favorite work location), and a relevant educational article on different days of the week.
Above all, be creative and be yourself while maintaining professionalism and credibility. In an article titled “The Freelancer’s Guide to Finding New Clients on LinkedIn,” Allie Decker puts it this way:
“As a connections platform, LinkedIn is no different from Facebook when it comes to its practice – the more you post, the more people recognize you.
“Regularly posting will also aid in conveying your personality and skill set. Your connections, including the clients you’ve formed close ties with, will be likely to remember you more even if you don’t message them regularly.”
3. Engage them.
Now you’ve made your appearance at the “virtual networking mixer,” it’s time to mingle. You don’t want to be a solo act onstage, merely providing LinkedIn entertainment. You want to meet your potential clients and build solid relationships.
Specifically, once you’ve researched and discovered the types of clients you want to connect with, think of meaningful and appropriate ways of engaging them in conversation. For example, leave no comments unanswered. If a connection comments on your post, write them back and, when appropriate, ask them a question that will deepen your discussion of the content.
In addition to directly messaging new connections, responding to invitations, and participating in relevant and active LinkedIn group discussions, Craig Cannings recommends engaging with “content-specific posts outside your network.” He also suggests spending 15 minutes per day reviewing, liking, and commenting on your network’s content. That way, “the more active you are, the more visible you will become to your target client audience.”
Essentially, engagement results in this equation suggested by Vito Peleg in his article, “How to Find Clients on LinkedIn (5 Minutes Per Day).” It applies to groups and other meaningful interactions on LinkedIn:
“Engaging with others = better reach = more connections = more leads”
“Unlike other social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn is used primarily for business purposes, so when you post something, expect a relevant, serious response. Groups on LinkedIn are a great way to engage with new prospects and to share insights into your own work.”
4. And they may come and stay.
Unlike other events, this “virtual networking mixer” never ends. You may see different people there at different times, but you’ll always find someone to talk to. And if you establish yourself as an authentic, credible, knowledgeable freelancer or virtual assistant, your ideal clients and prospects may stick around long term to hear what else you have to say. Hey, they might even stick around because they ENJOY connecting with you on LinkedIn.
As an illustration, the article above recommends staying in touch and being helpful:
“After you’ve succeeded in connecting with your ideal client, keep your lines open to the person. You’d want to be there for them as a consultant. Once you know how to find clients on LinkedIn, even [more important] is knowing how to keep those clients….
“It’s one thing to acquire projects, but an even more beneficial thing if you forge close ties with the ideal company.”
An article titled “How to use LinkedIn to Attract New Clients” provides further tips for LinkedIn profile activities over the long term. In particular, if you connect with potential clients who aren’t ready to work with you yet, you can engage with them using “trigger events,” namely, “situations that allow you to naturally engage with potential and existing LinkedIn connections without it feeling pushy or forced.”
For example, if you’ve scrolled through the LinkedIn newsfeed, you’ve probably noticed job change announcements. As the article says, you can use those as an opportunity to congratulate the potential client and even offer your services if you notice they’re moving into a role you can help with.
In addition, keep an eye out for posts or comments that mention you, your connection, or your connection’s company. Responding to mentions is another great way to strike up meaningful conversations and encourage potential clients to trust you.
Final Thoughts and Encouragement
So, as you can see, if you build your LinkedIn presence … nurture it … and engage with your ideal potential clients … they may come and stay. Ultimately, those long-term networking connections could develop into long-term freelance or virtual assistant contracts.
As further encouragement, consider this quote shared by Steve Kearns in an article titled “7 Quotes to Inspire Social Media Marketing Greatness in 2022”:
“There is no greater joy than to share what you love with those who appreciate it.”
– Bernard Jan, award-winning author
If you’d like more tips on how to effectively share your business brand and generate new client leads on LinkedIn, check out our new workshop, “Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile.” We’ll work together to make your profile shine!
And now we’d love to hear from you! How will you improve your LinkedIn profile so it attracts your ideal clients? And which networking activities do you find most effective on LinkedIn? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.