There are many career and social networking tools these days, but Linked In seems to be gaining a lot of popularity among agency freelancers at the moment.
This is largely down to its usefulness in business networking – while sites like Facebook have similar features and uses they are not aimed directly at business and professionals. This means the content people put on them is a mix of social and business, which isn’t very targeted.
Linked In however, is purely aimed at the business market, so you can use it solely for your professional profile and networking among other professionals. In freelancing terms, it’s very useful for non-creatives who don’t have a profile elsewhere on a portfolio website, but I actually think it’s worth having for creatives too.
What is Linked In?
If you’re not familiar with it, Linked In is basically an online networking website for business – similar to Facebook in terms of functionality. It is largely used as a tool for job hunters, but actually a large number of freelancers use it now to network with other freelancers and potential employers. This makes good sense really, as these days getting work is becoming more about using a number of tools rather than relying on one or two that have worked in the past.
Build your profile
Creating a profile is free, and it’s a good idea to do it thoroughly. Having a well thought out and detailed profile is much like having a good CV or resumé – it has a big effect when someone is judging you on it without meeting you in person. Make sure you also add a picture, write a targeted personal headline and add a link to your website or blog if you have one.
Build a network
Once you are happy with your profile, start off by searching for people you have worked with before, or anyone you know and want to be associated with. You can even search by the name of a company you have worked at previously. The people you invite to connect will then have to acknowledge they want to be linked with you.
Recommend or get recommended
This is a good feature of Linked In. Much like with job references, you are essentially endorsing someone’s skills and character. You can write a recommendation for anyone in your network, or ask for recommendations from them. As part of your profile, these are an effective tool for employers or clients to judge potential freelancers they may want to hire.
There are thousands of groups on Linked In, covering all sorts of subjects. Joining a few of these is a good way to find more connections, join discussions, find news and even find job ads. Make sure you join our own Creative Agency Freelancing group, which at the time of writing has close to 100 members, from freelancers to agency employers and recruitment agents.
Look people up
Here’s a useful tip for us freelancers. Whenever you are researching new clients, or about to go for an interview or start at a new agency, use Linked In to check people out. Anyone you might be about to work with or meet with may have a profile, and you can get a good sense of what they are like or some useful background information. This knowledge can help in interviews or with starting work in a new office environment.
Well there you go – it’s easy to do and there are some very good benefits to having a Linked In profile as a freelancer. If you already use it and have some tips please add them in the comments below.
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