The Ultimate Guide to LinkedIn for Freelancers

How to use LinkedIn to attract more clients and grow your freelance business

LinkedIn for freelancers

If you’re not using LinkedIn right, then you’re going to miss out on lots of great freelance opportunities. Because more clients are using LinkedIn to search for freelancers and to check us out before deciding whether to hire us. Colleagues use LinkedIn too to check us out before deciding whether to make a referral to us for freelance work.

Using LinkedIn right isn’t difficult. And you won’t be wasting your time. You only need three things:

  • A complete, client-focused LinkedIn profile
  • A big relevant network
  • Some activity.

Taking the Mystery Out of LinkedIn for Freelancers

mystery of LinkedIn for freelancers

This guide to LinkedIn for freelancers will show you how to use LinkedIn to attract more clients and grow your freelance business. I focus on what works best on LinkedIn for freelancers. So you won’t waste your time following advice that may work for other small businesses but isn’t applicable to us.

The guide covers:

10 minutes a day on LinkedIn for freelancers

Once you’ve developed your complete, client-focused profile and started building your network, you only need to spend about 10 minutes a day (Monday through Friday) on LinkedIn to help grow your freelance business.

How Clients Find Freelancers on LinkedIn

LinkedIn won’t tell us much about its search algorithm, which it constantly changes. Here’s what I know from the experts I follow (this information is current as of October 2023).

The search algorithm shows results by:

  1. Profile completeness and relevant keywords in the headline
  2. Common connections with the person who is doing the search
  3. Connections by degree (1st, 2nd, or 3rd)
  4. Your activity
  5. Your skills.

Developing a Complete, Client-Focused LinkedIn Profile

LinkedIn profile

Only 51% of LinkedIn users have complete profiles. So you’ll outrank almost half of all members just by completing your profile. If you have an All-Star rating, your profile is complete. To get an All-Star rating, you need to include the right content and have at least 50 connections. The right content is:

  • Industry and location
  • Profile photo
  • Current position (under Experience)
  • Two past positions
  • Education
  • At least three skills.

The profile strength meter

You can see how strong your profile is on the profile strength meter. Only you can see this; it’s not visible on your public profile.

How to see your profile strength meter

  • Click the Me icon at the top of your LinkedIn homepage.
  • Select View Profile.
  • The Suggested for you section below your introduction card (where your headline is) shows your current profile level.
  • Follow the prompts to complete any of the steps listed.
  • Once all the suggested prompts are complete, you’ll receive an All-Star profile rating.

Create a Compelling Introduction Card

The top part of your profile is called the introduction card. The introduction card includes your:

  • Name
  • Headline
  • Profile photo
  • Banner image
  • Current position
  • Education
  • Location
  • Contact info.

Your introduction card is the first thing clients see when they click on your profile. Make sure that your headline is compelling and your photo and banner image are professional and clear.

Here’s my introduction card.

introduction card

Use a professional photo

Experts say that people with profile photos get 14-21 times more profile views than people without photos.

And having a professional photo on your LinkedIn profile makes it much more likely that clients will take you seriously. A professional photo shows the client that you’re a professional, and that you’re worth the money they’ll pay for your services.

It’s best to hire a professional photographer to take your photo, which you can also use on your website and in other marketing. A professional photographer will make you look your best, even if you’re like me and hate to be photographed.

If you don’t hire a pro, don’t use a selfie. Make sure the background for your photo is neutral and clean. Make sure your face is centered and there’s a little space over your head. Don’t include your pet or kids in your LinkedIn photo.

Photo size

  • 400 x 400 pixels
  • Maximum size 10MB

Use an effective banner image

The banner image, sometimes called the cover photo, is the bar at the top of your profile that includes your photo. Your photo is on the left in the banner image.

The default banner image is fine. If you use a custom image, make sure it’s clear and looks great as part of your profile.

Banner image size

  • 1,584 x 396 pixels
  • Maximum size 4MB

Include your contact info

Make it easy for clients to contact you by including at least your email address and, if you’re comfortable, your phone number in Contact Info and again in About. Also include your website in both places. This is basic, but freelancers often forget to do this.

How to add or revise contact info

  • Go to the bottom of your introduction card.
  • Click on Contact info.
  • Click edit.

Include your industry

Your industry doesn’t show but it’s a key part of LinkedIn’s search algorithm. If you want to have a complete profile and rank higher in search results, include your industry.

How to add your industry

  • Click edit on your introduction card.
  • Scroll down to Industry.

edit introduction

Focus on Your LinkedIn Profile Headline

The most important part of your LinkedIn profile is the headline. A compelling, client-focused headline will help you:

  • Rank higher in search results when clients are searching for a freelancer
  • Impress clients who click on your profile
  • Get more referrals from colleagues.

LinkedIn has increased the length of the headline from 120 characters to 220 characters. That gives you more space to get the attention of clients and colleagues and make them want to click on your profile to learn more about you.

You don’t have to write a longer headline—and you shouldn’t do this just because you can. My headline is just 144 characters, and I include information about The Mighty Marketer:

Freelance Medical Writer | Targeted Content to Attract, Engage, and Motivate Your Audience(s) | On time, Every time | Freelance Marketing Coach

But if you need a little more space to write a compelling, client-focused headline, expand your headline. Just don’t feel like you have to write more now.

Clearly say what you do and how you help your clients. Use relevant keywords to rank higher in search results, especially “freelancer” and “freelance [writer, editor, etc.]” and your services. You can also include the type of clients you work with or other key information.

See examples of dull headlines and compelling, client-focused headlines.


Get yours for free. Just click here.

The About Section on LinkedIn for Freelancers

About is the second most important part of your profile, after your headline. LinkedIn has also increased About from 2,000 to 2,600 characters. Like the longer headline, having more space for About can be helpful. But it may not be necessary.

Here’s why. People—especially clients—are busy. And they have very short attention spans.

So you need to offer clear, concise client-focused messages and brief, scannable content to show how you help clients meet their needs.

What shows before people have to click see more—the first 220-270 characters (about 102-167 characters on mobile)—should:

  • Build on your headline
  • Offer a clear, concise client-focused message.

Then briefly summarize your services and your relevant experience and background. Use bulleted lists to make services and other content scannable.  Also make your About section scannable by using short sentences and short paragraphs.

Like your headline, don’t write more just because you can. See examples of boring and engaging About section beginnings.

Here’s the beginning of my About section (or see it online).

LinkedIn About

Use the right keywords

Continue to use the keywords that clients are likely to use to search for a freelancer like you throughout About. Clients often look for keywords related to titles, so use “freelancer” instead of “freelance services,” and “freelance medical writer” (or “freelance ADD YOUR FIELD HERE”) instead of freelance medical writing.”

Use other keywords related to your services that people will search for, like:

  • The type of clients you work with
  • Your key services
  • Industry-specific keywords.

Include just enough key content

Focus the rest of About on how you help your clients meet their needs. Briefly summarize your services, and your relevant experience and background. Use bulleted lists for your services and anything else that works well in a list.

Include a call to action

A call to action tells clients what you want them to do. The call to action can invite clients to call or email you, visit your website, connect on LinkedIn, or any combination of these. Include a call to action, with your contact information, at the end of About.


Be conversational and interesting

Your LinkedIn profile is a marketing tool, not a resume. Make it easy to read (conversational)and interesting. Use:

  • Short, action-oriented sentences
  • Short paragraphs
  • Subheads (in all caps)
  • Bulleted lists.

The Featured Section on LinkedIn for Freelancers

The Featured section lets you display your best work and market your freelance business to anyone who looks at your profile. It’s prime LinkedIn real estate: below About and above Activity.

You can use Featured to display your:

  • Work samples
  • Website
  • LinkedIn posts
  • LinkedIn articles
  • Logo.

For most freelancers, samples will be the best way to use featured.

Here’s my featured section, which you can see better on my LinkedIn profile.

LinkedIn featured

The first two items, and maybe part of the third, show automatically. You can see more by clicking See all.

Add, delete, or move content in featured 

Fortunately, you can add, delete, and move content in Featured pretty easily. Learn more about how to use the featured section.

If you don’t have a Featured section yet, click Add profile section. Then choose Featured.

add featured

To add content, go to your profile, Featured and Click the + button. Then choose the type of content you want to add and add the link or file (images, documents, presentations, or videos).

LinkedIn requires you to add a title to Featured content. You have the option of adding a description. Write a relevant title and a brief but interesting description.

choose featured

To edit or delete content, go to your profile, Featured and click the pencil tool.

edit featured 1

Choose the piece of content you want to edit or delete.

edit featured

You can also edit the order of content by clicking the pencil tool.

reorder featured

Click the three lines on the right and drag content up or down. You can only drag it up or down by one item at a time. So if you want to move content up or down further, just keep moving it one item at a time.

Some experts say that you should update Featured often. I disagree. Update Featured only when  you have something new that’s relevant to add.

Also, you can add as many pieces of content as you want but only two or part of a third will show. People can see the rest by clicking See all. But don’t add too many pieces of content. Two to five pieces of high-quality content seems right to me.

Highlight Your Experience

This is the section for your positions. Your freelance business is your current position. Include the word “freelance” in your title followed by what you do (e.g., freelance writer or editor).

And you can repeat some of the information from About here. Continue to include relevant keywords.

If you’ve had professional jobs before becoming a freelancer, list at least 2 of them here. Include details about your work and achievements. Focus on what’s most relevant to your freelance work and your target clients. If the organizations you worked for are impressive, include a brief description of each.

And if you haven’t had 2 other professional jobs, include other relevant work experience here, such as college internships or part-time work.

How to add/edit experience

  • Go to the Experience section.
  • To edit a job, click the edit pencil to the right of the job.
  • To add a new job, click the + on the right of Experience.

Your Education, Skills, and Projects

Your education, which is necessary for a complete profile, helps you highlight your expertise and experience.

Include skills

LinkedIn says you need at least 3 skills for a complete profile. People with at least 5 skills get 17 times more profile views than people without skills, say some experts. And listing skills is another way to rank higher in search results.

How to add/edit skills

  • Scroll down to Skills & Endorsements
  • Click on Add a new skill

Include relevant projects

Adding relevant projects that you’ve worked on lets you highlight your skills and experience and helps you rank higher in search results.

You can include projects from school here, which is helpful to recent college graduates.

How to add/edit projects

  • Go to the Accomplishments section.
  • Click on the + on the right for the dropdown menu, then choose Projects.

Other LinkedIn Profile Sections

Other sections of your profile are also helpful on LinkedIn for freelancers:

  • Volunteer experience
  • Accomplishments
  • Interests.

Include volunteer experience

If you volunteer, including for professional associations, create a volunteer section. This is especially helpful if you’re:

  • A recent college graduate with little or no work experience
  • A new freelancer.

 How to add/edit volunteer experience

  • Go to the Accomplishments section.
  • Click on the + on the right for the dropdown menu, then choose Organizations.

Include your accomplishments

This section is for specific types of accomplishments:

  • Projects
  • Organizations
  • Courses
  • Publications
  • Certifications
  • Honors & Awards
  • Patents
  • Test Scores.

The 2 most relevant types of accomplishments on LinkedIn for freelancers are projects, covered earlier, and organizations. Under organizations, add your professional associations and your role in them (e.g., member, committee member, or officer).

If you’re a recent college graduate or a new freelancer who’s taken relevant courses, add some courses too.

If you have other accomplishments that fit these categories include them. But don’t worry if you can’t add more information to this section.

How to add/edit accomplishments

  • Go to the Accomplishments section of your profile.
  • Click on the + on the right for the dropdown menu, then choose the category you want to add info to.

Include your interests

Interests include the influencers, companies, groups, and schools you follow. This section isn’t crucial, but it can be helpful to follow relevant people, groups, and organizations.

Recommendations don’t matter on LinkedIn for freelancers

Many experts say that it’s important to have recommendations on your LinkedIn profile. I disagree. It’s far better to have testimonials from clients on your website than recommendations on your LinkedIn profile.

More Ways to Make the Most of Your LinkedIn Profile

As you’re finishing your profile:

  • Proof for errors and on mobile and computers.
  • Create a custom URL
  • Make sure your profile is publicly visible.

Proof for errors

Proof your LinkedIn profile carefully for errors and on mobile and computers. Make sure it looks great on smart phones, tablets, and computers.

Create a custom URL

Make it easier for clients to find you with a custom LinkedIn URL. This also makes you look more professional.

How to create a custom URL

  • Click Edit public profile on the right.
  • Scroll down to Edit Your Custom URL.
  • Click the edit button.
  • Add your name after

URL on LinkedIn for freelancers

Make sure your profile is visible

If you want clients to find you on LinkedIn, make sure your profile is on for public visibility.

Profile visibility on LinkedIn for freelancers

How to make your profile publicly visible

  • Click Edit public profile on the right.
  • Scroll down to Edit Visibility.
  • Click the on switch.

Learn more about developing a client-focused LinkedIn profile

The Ultimate LinkedIn Profile for Freelance Success This Year

Free tool: The Ultimate LinkedIn Profile Checklist for Freelancers 

Ranking High in Search Results on LinkedIn

Developing a complete, client-focused profile isn’t enough to rank high when clients are searching for freelancers. To rank high on search results, you also need to:

  • Build a big, relevant network (500+ connections)
  • Be active.

Building a Big, Relevant LinkedIn Network

LinkedIn network

Relevant connections help you rank high in search results when clients are looking on LinkedIn for freelancers.

LinkedIn’s search algorithm looks for:

  • Common connections with the person who is doing the search
  • Connections by degree (1st are strongest and 3rd are weakest).

Aim for at least 500 relevant connections. This could give you access to at least 250,000 people, including lots of potential clients. (I explain this below under Types of connections.)

Connect with the right people

So be strategic when you invite people to join your network and when you accept connection requests from other LinkedIn members. Connect with:

  • Clients
  • Other freelancers you know
  • Freelancers and other colleagues from your professional associations
  • Other people working in your industry(ies).

If you don’t know a lot of people yet, don’t worry; by being active (covered next), you’ll “meet” relevant people you can invite to connect with you.

Connect versus Follow

When members choose Creator mode, Following is the default. All members can also choose follow as the default.

If you follow someone, you are NOT connected with them.

Following lets you see the person’s posts and articles without being connected to them. But the person you’re following won’t see your posts.

You can connect with people who have Follow as their default.

 How to Connect When Follow is the Default

  • On the person’s profile, click More.
  • Choose Connect.
  • Add a personal note to invite them to connect with you.

Also, LinkedIn is set up so that you’ll automatically follow your 1st degree connections. If you don’t want to see their content, you can always unfollow them.

Always Send Personal Invitations

Always add a personal note when you invite someone to connect with you.

personal invitation

Mention what you have in common or why you want to connect. For example, you could write:

“I see we’re both freelance writers and I’d love to connect with you on LinkedIn”


“I loved your post on XYZ. Please join my LinkedIn network.”

If the person is a potential client, mention something about his/her career or company or something you have in common (like graduating from the same college).

Don’t click “Connect” under People You May Know. LinkedIn will automatically send the default invite. Instead, search for the person by name and click on his/her profile. Then click Connect, and LinkedIn will prompt you to add a personal note.

Personal invitations on LinkedIn mobile

LinkedIn’s mobile app doesn’t prompt you to add a personal note to connection invites. But there’s an easy way to do this.

How to send a personal invitation on LinkedIn mobile

  • Search for the person you want to invite.
  • Go to the far right to the three dots (. . . ).
  • Click the three dots.
  • Click Personalize invite.

Types of LinkedIn Connections

LinkedIn has 3 levels of connections:

1st-degree connections

These are direct connections. Either you invited the person to connect with you or he/she invited you to connect with him/her. 1st-degree connections:

  • See each other’s connections (usually; this depends on the settings each person uses)
  • Can send direct messages for free
  • Automatically follow each other (you can unfollow someone if you want to).

Following means that you will see some of their content and they will see some of yours.

LinkedIn has a very complicated algorithm for deciding which content to show you. If you want to keep seeing a connection’s content, comment on it regularly.

See Increasing Your Visibility Through Activity below for more information about commenting.

2nd-degree connections

These are connections of your 1st-degree connections. Having access to these people can gives you a huge network. Say that you have 500 1st-degree connections, who each have 500 1st-degree connections. Your network is now 250,000 connections.

You can send 2nd-degree connections an invitation by clicking the Connect button on their profile page. You can’t message them for free.

3rd-degree connections

These are people who are connected to your 2nd-degree connections. If their first and last names show on their profile, you can click Connect to invite them to be part of your network. If only the first letter of their last name shows, you won’t have an option to click Connect. You can’t message them for free.

It doesn’t look like you can search for 3rd-degree connections. When you click the People search box, “3rd+” is gray. LinkedIn says that if you enter keywords (which is what they mean by entering information under the section that begins with “first name”), you’ll be able to click on 3rd+. I tried this several times and “3rd+” was still gray.

See Research prospects below for more information about this.

Use the Follow Feature

While 1st-degree connections automatically follow each other, you can also follow people and they can follow you without being connected.

A follower sees some of your content in his/her feed but you won’t see his/her content. If you’re the follower, you’ll see some of that person’s content but he/she won’t see your content. Followers can’t direct message each other.

Learn more about building your LinkedIn network

How to Be Active and Effective on LinkedIn Even if You Hate Social Media

Professional Associations: The Best Way to Get High-Paying Freelance Work

Increasing Your Visibility Through Activity

LinkedIn activity

Your activity is one of the five things LinkedIn uses to rank search results. Being active also helps you meet more relevant people so you can build your network.

Activity means sharing content and engaging with other people on your content and their content.

The 3 main types of content you can share are:

  • Posts
  • Articles
  • Videos.

I focus on how to write posts and articles below. I’m not covering videos because I think it’s just way too much work to do the high-quality videos that should be shared on social media. But if videos would benefit your specific freelance business and you know how to produce high-quality videos, by all means use them.

Whether you’re posting your own content, responding to comments on your posts and articles, or commenting on other people’s posts and articles, always be professional.

Spend 1 hour a week on LinkedIn

Once you get used to sharing and engaging, it only takes about 10 minutes a day (Monday through Friday) on LinkedIn for freelancers to get results. And you don’t have to do this every day. If you’re super busy, it’s okay to skip a day or two.

Review your LinkedIn feed 2-3 times a day.  About once a week, do your own posts.

Ways to engage with other people

If you’re not very active on LinkedIn yet, start by engaging with other people before sharing your own content. There are 3 ways to engage with other people’s posts:

  • Like
  • Comment
  • Repost (to your network)
  • Send (to a specific person or people).

Commenting is the best way to engage others.

Here’s an example of one of my posts and one comment on it.

LinkedIn post

This example is one of my comments on another person’s post.

comment on a post

Liking is, frankly, lazy. The person who wrote the post isn’t likely to notice your Like and this won’t help you build a relationship with that person. But you can click Like and then add a comment.

Reposting seems to be a good way to engage others. But LinkedIn’s algorithm doesn’t like shares so they won’t get many views.

If you’re just starting to be active on LinkedIn, review your feed and comment on other people’s posts. Your feed is the content that shows up when you click on your LinkedIn home page. LinkedIn decides what’s most relevant and shows this to you.

Commenting on other people’s posts

Grow your network and build relationships with relevant connections by commenting on other people’s posts. Look for people, especially other freelancers, and posts that are relevant to you so you don’t waste your time.

Commenting is easy to do. And every comment is a mini-ad for your business, because your name and the beginning of your headline show before your comment, along with your photo. Read the post and write a meaningful comment.

mini ad

Make sure you tag the poster, so he/she gets a notice from LinkedIn about your comment.

How to tag the poster

  • Type the @symbol.
  • Start to type the poster’s name.
  • Choose the poster’s name from the list LinkedIn gives you.

Build your network through comments

Someone who replies to your comment is likely to accept your invite to connect if you decide the person would be a good connection for you.

And read the comments of other people. Commenting on their comments is an easy way to find more relevant people to invite to be part of your network.

Sharing Your Own Content in Posts

Once you’re comfortable on LinkedIn, share relevant content once or twice a week. Relevant content includes:

  • News and updates about your industry or specialty(ies)
  • Tips on being more productive
  • Other useful free content, like blog posts, podcasts, and webinars.

Posts are the easiest way to share content. Include at least a few sentences about the content, usually with a link to the full content (news, blog post, etc.). I like to include a headline too. Or ask a question.

LinkedIn prioritizes relevant professional content and shows that content to more of your followers. The algorithm prioritizes posts that offer knowledge and advice and shares those posts with users who might find it useful.  These posts:

  • Are relevant
  • Highlight your expertise
  • Share perspective, not generic content

LinkedIn also prioritizes meaningful comments and responses to comments.

Add a post

How to write a post

  • Go to the top of your LinkedIn home page.
  • Click on Start a post.
  • Character count limit: 1,300 characters

Ask questions in your posts

If people can answer a question, then they’re more likely to engage with you. You can ask questions in a regular post or use a poll. Doing a regular post with a question lets you add details about the question and start a discussion. But polls are a quick and easy way to engage other people. I’d recommend using a combination of questions with details and polls. LinkedIn polls lets you quickly and easily create polls.

Like other posts, make sure your question or poll is relevant and engaging.

add to posts

How to create a poll:

  • Click start a post on your home page
  • Click create a poll (the three bars)
  • Type in your questions and choose the options
  • Select the poll duration
  • Click Next
  • In the edit the post section, select who you want to see your post. (Choose “Anyone” to increase the visibility of your poll)
  • Click Post.

Promote Your Freelance Business

Every post is a mini-ad for your business. Like comments, posts show your name, the beginning of your headline, and your photo.

promote your freelance business

Sign up for e-newsletters and you’ll have a steady stream of content ideas coming to your inbox. Professional associations are also a great source of relevant content you can share.

Most of what you share should be non-promotional. When you do promote something related to your freelance work, make sure it’s relevant to your connections.

Increase engagement by responding to every comment people make on your posts. Very few people do this, so if you do, you’ll stand out.

And people who comment on your posts are likely to accept an invite to connect from you.

Post impressions   

LinkedIn lets you see the number of impressions each post gets. An impression means that the post was presented in someone’s home feed. It doesn’t mean that the person read it.

When your 1st-degree connections comment or like one of your posts, their 1st-degree connections (who are your 2nd-degree connections) will see your post.

Sharing Your Own Content in Articles

You can also write your own articles and post them on in publishing (LinkedIn’s blogging platform). In general, posts are just as good as articles for ranking in search results and building your network.

But articles can help you highlight your expertise. When you publish an article, it becomes part of your LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn shares it with your connections and followers in their feeds, and sometimes through notifications. And you can send links to your articles to clients, prospective clients, and freelance friends. in publishing is very easy to use.

Make sure your articles are relevant to your target clients and freelance friends. Think about topics that you know well that they need or want to know more about.  Write informally but professionally. Don’t be promotional.

Add an image at the beginning of your post.  At the end of your post, include a brief bio with a link to your website (or your LinkedIn profile if you don’t have a website yet).

 How to write an article

  • Go to the top of your LinkedIn home page.
  • Click on Write an article, just below Start a post.
  • Character count limit:
    • Headline – 100 characters
    • Article – 40,000 characters

Views of your articles

LinkedIn also shows you the number of views of your articles. An article view means the person clicked through to your article.

Increase Engagement and Build Your Network

Use images with your posts and articles to increase the number of views and engagement. Build your network by inviting relevant people to connect with you.

Use images

If you’re linking to content that’s on the web, when you type the URL in your post, LinkedIn will pick up the image and the headline from that content.

If you need to create an image for your posts (or articles), this isn’t hard. And you can do it for free.

Free services like Pixaby have decent images. Then use the free version of Canva to create images in the right size and if you want to, add text. Canva has a free design school to help you learn how to create images.

I created all of the images in this guide to LinkedIn for freelancers using Canva.

LinkedIn post image size:

  • 1,200 by 628 pixels

LinkedIn article image size:

  • 744 x 400 pixels

Invite relevant people to connect with you

When someone comments on your post or article, read his/her title. If the person seems like a good connection for you, click on his/her profile and invite him/her to be part of your LinkedIn network. You can write something like:

“Thanks for commenting on my post on XYZ.  Please join my LinkedIn network.”

And, of course, reply to the comment.

Learn more about being active on LinkedIn

How to Use LinkedIn Algorithm Changes to Boost Your Visibility

How to Be Active and Effective on LinkedIn Even if You Hate Social Media

What Happened When 2 Digital Immigrants Embraced LinkedIn

Finding Clients Through LinkedIn

Find freelance work

You can also use LinkedIn to:

  • Connect with potential clients
  • Research prospective clients (prospects).

Search results are also based on your connections, so the larger your network the more results you’ll get. The more relevant your network is, the more relevant your search results will be.

And if you have a relevant LinkedIn network of at least 500 connections, you’ll be connected to thousands of prospects.

I covered connecting with prospects who view your profile but didn’t contact you (yet) under Check Your Profile Views.

Research Prospects

LinkedIn is a great tool for finding prospects. You can use LinkedIn to:

  • Find the right contact person for companies/organizations you’d like to work with.
  • Find more relevant prospects through “People Also Viewed.”
  • Do general searches for prospects.

How to Search LinkedIn for Clients

With a free account, LinkedIn is most useful for:

  • Searching for the right contact person(people) when you know the company you’d like to work with
  • Finding related prospects through People Also Viewed.

If you know a particular company you want to work with, search for it and then use keywords to find people with the right job titles. The right title (and department) varies for different types of freelance work and in different companies.

You’ll need to figure out who hires freelancers like you. Having a strong network of other freelancers can help you do this.

Here are some common titles of people who hire freelance writers and editors:

  • Editor
  • Vice president
  • Manager
  • Director
  • Associate director.

They usually work in departments like:

  • Business development
  • Communications
  • Content marketing
  • Digital marketing
  • Marketing.

How to search for the right contact person(people)

Method 1

  • In the search bar at the top, type the name of the organization.
  • If you have a big relevant network, some of the people who come up under the search results are probably the right contact people.
  • Also, click on their profiles to look for other good contact people under People Also Viewed(covered below).

Method 2

  • In the search bar at the top, type the name of the organization.
  • Click All filters.
  • Set the appropriate filters:
    • Connections
    • Location (usually your country).
    • Profile language
    • Other filters, if desired
  • Under Industry, start to type your industry:
    • Choose one of the standard options LinkedIn provides.
  • Under Keywords, enter the:
    • Title:  The most likely department for your prospects (e.g., marketing or communications).
    • Company name.
    • Repeat the search with different titles to find the best contact person.
  • Click search.

keyword search

With a free account, you can search for 1st- and 2nd-degree connections. This is the top of the people filters screen. Scroll down for other filters.

LinkedIn says you can search for 3rd-degree connections by entering keywords. Then you can click  the 3+ connections box. But I tried this several times and the 3+ stayed gray (which means you can’t click on it).

For the title, just type in the department (e.g., communications or marketing).  Then you can sort through the results for the most relevant titles.

When you find someone who’s a good prospect for you, check out his/her People Also Viewed section. This is a great way to find:

  • Colleagues at the same company who may be better prospects for you
  • People at different, but similar, companies with the same/similar job title.

People also viewed

LinkedIn shows up to 10 profiles that viewers of the profile have also viewed.  The profiles with the most views are at the top of the list. People Also Viewed doesn’t show for everyone because members can turn off this feature.

How to use People Also Viewed on computers

  • Look on the right of the profile you’re viewing.
  • Scroll down to People Also Viewed.
  • Click on the profile of anyone who might be a good prospect.

How to use People Also Viewed on mobile

  • Scroll to the bottom of the person’s profile page.
  • Click on the profile of anyone who might be a good prospect.

General Prospect Searches

In general searches, you’ll get a lot of results, but LinkedIn sorts results by relevance so the top results should be best.

How to do general searches

  • In the search bar at the top, type People.
  • Click All filters.
  • Set the appropriate filters:
    • Connections
    • Location (usually your country).
    • Profile language
    • Other filters, if desired
  • Under Industry, start to type your industry:
    • Choose one of the standard options LinkedIn provides.
    • If you work in more than one industry, repeat the search with your other industries.
  • Under Keywords, enter the:
    • Title:  The most likely department for your prospects (e.g., marketing or communications).
    • Repeat the search with different titles to find the best contact person.

LinkedIn limits the number of searches you can do each month with a free account. They call this the “Commercial Use Limit,” but they don’t say what the limit is. The Commercial Use Limit makes LinkedIn less useful for doing general prospect searches. The premium subscription that’s most applicable to freelancers, Sales Navigator, starts at $64.99 per month (as of September 2021).

What Not to Do on LinkedIn

While LinkedIn can help freelancers find and attract high-paying clients, there are two things that are a waste of time and effort for us:

  • Social selling
  • LinkedIn ProFinder.

Forget About Social Selling

Everyone talks about—and many gurus recommend—social selling. But marketing through LinkedIn (or other social networks) is harder and less effective for freelancers than for other small businesses.

Social selling involves a series of contacts to build relationships over time, most of which focus on providing your connections with valuable content that you create. It takes a LOT of time to do this.

And social selling only works if your prospects are active on LinkedIn. Otherwise, they’re not likely to respond at all.

Many clients have LinkedIn profiles but they only use LinkedIn when they’re actively searching for freelancers or when they hear about a freelancer they want to check out.

Direct email works much better than social selling for freelancers. And it takes less time.

After developing your prospect list, which you would need to do for social selling too, you write a short, targeted direct email to each prospect that shows how you can help the client meet their needs.

Forget About LinkedIn ProFinder

LinkedIn ProFinder is supposed to match freelancers with “relevant” opportunities. But it doesn’t.

To be on ProFinder, you have to complete an online application and LinkedIn has to accept you. Once this is done, LinkedIn will notify you of “relevant” freelance projects and you can submit a proposal. If the client is interested, he/she can contact you directly.

ProFinder has many major flaws, including:

  • A local focus, which is irrelevant for freelancers
  • Opportunities are rarely relevant to the freelancer
  • Most clients on ProFinder are small businesses, which are not likely to be steady, high-paying clients for freelancers
  • The price quote structure isn’t practical or accurate.

On top of all of these flaws, after submitting 10 proposals, LinkedIn forces you to upgrade to Business Premium to continue using ProFinder. The cost starts at $47.99 a month, more if you pay monthly instead of by the year (as of October 2021).

Learn more about social selling and LinkedIn ProFinder

What Happens When Freelancers Use LinkedIn ProFinder

Why You Need to Use Direct Email: What 4 Freelancers Say

Direct email swipe file, with templates and examples

Disclaimer: LinkedIn makes frequent changes. All of this information is accurate as of August 2022.