How to Supercharge Your LinkedIn Profile, with Free Checklist
Before JoAnna Pendergrass, DVM, launched her freelance writing business in 2016, she got her first major client—through her LinkedIn profile. “It was great to have a client waiting in the wings when I officially started my business,” says JoAnna. “Since then, I’ve gotten several more clients through LinkedIn.” Her company, JPen Communications, focuses on health writing for patients and pet owners.
One of my anchor clients (large, steady clients) found me through my LinkedIn profile. I’ve gotten a few smaller clients through LinkedIn too, and some freelance jobs that I referred to other freelancers in my network. My company is Lori De Milto Writer for Rent LLC and I write targeted medical content for hospitals/health systems, healthcare marketing agencies, and other clients.
Clients are Looking for Freelancers on LinkedIn
It’s more important than ever for freelancers to have a client-focused LinkedIn profile, because more clients are using LinkedIn to:
- Find freelancers
- Check out freelancers who colleagues are referring to them before deciding whether to contact the freelancer.
Sixty-two percent of freelancers who use LinkedIn say it’s “important” or “very important” in getting clients, according to How Freelancers Market their Services: 2019 Survey. That number is an 11% increase over 2017, when 51% of freelancers said they get clients through the #1 business social network.
If you’re part of the 38% of freelancers who aren’t getting clients through LinkedIn, you’re probably wondering why LinkedIn isn’t working for you. In this post, I’m going to show you how freelancers are getting clients through LinkedIn with a complete, client-focused LinkedIn profile.
Your LinkedIn Profile Helps You Rank High in Search Results
Clients find JoAnna and me because we rank high in the search results when they’re looking for freelancers. And we rank high because we both:
- Have complete, client-focused LinkedIn profiles
- Are active on LinkedIn
- Have large networks (500+ connections).
Your profile is the #1 thing LinkedIn’s algorithm uses in ranking search results. You’ll rank even higher if you’reactive on LinkedIn and have a large network.
Having a complete, client-focused LinkedIn profile helps JoAnna, me, and freelancers John Espirian, Deb Dulin, and Debbie (Deborah) Anderson, PhD, attract clients. And the clients who are searching for freelancers on LinkedIn are usually high-paying clients who value our work.
“LinkedIn is the best social network for business leads,” says John, who has gotten high-paying clients who found him by searching LinkedIn. Based in South Wales, UK, John writes websites, blogs and case studies for IT and other high-tech industries. His LinkedIn Learners Lounge is a great resource for learning more about LinkedIn.
LinkedIn’s requirements and client needs
Meeting LinkedIn’s requirements and using the right keywords helps you rank high in search results. Once a client gets the list of search results, your headline has to grab his/her attention quickly, or the client will be clicking on the profile of the next freelancer on the list.
That’s why you need a client-focused headline that uses the right keywords and says how you help your clients.
And once the client clicks on your profile, you need to keep his/her attention. You do this by focusing on the needs of your target clients and how you can meet need those needs.
Your Complete, Client-Focused LinkedIn Profile
To get an All-Star Rating, which means that your profile is complete, LinkedIn says 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
- At least 3 skills.
But that’s not all. A client-focused LinkedIn profile has:
- A compelling, client-focused headline that uses the right keywords
- A compelling, client-focused About section (also called the summary), especially the first 220-270 characters with spaces.
Use the right keywords
The right keywords in your headline and your About section include:
- “freelancer” or “freelance [writer, editor, etc.]”
- Your key services
- Industry-specific keywords
- The type of clients you work with and their target audiences.
Be interesting and conversational
You client-focused LinkedIn profile also needs to be interesting and easy to read (conversational). It’s a marketing tool, not a resume. Throughout your profile, use:
- Short, action-oriented sentences
- Short paragraphs
- Subheads (in all caps)
- Bulleted lists.
Learn how to write a complete, client-focused profile
Get step-by-step instructions for writing a complete, client-focused profile and see examples of how freelancers are getting clients through their LinkedIn profiles and activity:
LinkedIn Profile Headlines that Attract Clients
Your headline is the most important part of your client-focused LinkedIn profile. It can be up to 120 characters with spaces. This is plenty to write a headline that compels clients to learn more about you. Clearly say what you do and how you help your clients.
Examples of compelling, client-focused headlines
Here are some compelling, client-focused headlines.
“Freelance Medical Writer│Compelling Health Content that Engages, Educates, and Empowers Patients and Pet Owners”
“Freelance medical writer | Targeted Content to Attract, Engage, and Motivate Your Audiences | On time, every time”
“Relentlessly helpful technical copywriting for B2B websites | LinkedIn nerd”
“Dulin Design, design & branding partner to marketing directors in tech, healthcare and hospitality”
“Freelance Medical Writer, Instructional Designer. I develop content that educates professionals on medical concepts.”
About Sections that Keep the Attention of Clients
Your About section is the second most important part of your LinkedIn profile, especially about the first 220-270 characters (with spaces). When someone is viewing your profile on a computer, about the first 220-270 characters shows before the person has to click “see more.” On mobile devices, about 102-167 characters show.
Build on your headline and offer a clear, concise client-focused message in those first 220-270 characters. Put as much of your key message as you can in the first 102-167 characters to attract clients viewing your profile on a smart phone or tablet.
Examples of Client-Focused About Messages
Here are some examples of client-focused messages in the beginning of the About section.
JoAnna’s message on computers:
“Medical information is often complex, getting lost in translation between what the doctor or veterinarian says and what the patient or pet owner understands. I am passionate about closing that gap in medical communication by writing clear, informative, and engaging medical content…. “
JoAnna’s message on mobile:
“Medical information is often complex, getting lost in translation between what the doctor or veterinarian says and what the patient or pet owner understands. I. . .”
My message on computers:
“Targeted medical content attracts, engages, and motivates your audience(s). As a freelance medical writer, I help hospitals/health systems, disease-focused health organizations, clinical trial sponsors, foundations, and other clie . . .”
My message on mobile:
“Targeted medical content attracts, engages, and motivates your audience(s). As a freelance medical wr . . .”
John’s message on computers:
“I write websites, blogs and case studies for IT and other high-tech industries. Small and large B2B businesses hire me to write content that explains how their products and services work. Get in touch: email@example.com. . . .”
John’s message on mobile:
“I write websites, blogs and case studies for IT and other high-tech industries. Small and large B2B businesses hire me to write content that explains how their prod . . .”
Deb’s message on computers:
“Looking for a trusted design partner? Do you have plenty of projects but lack the time and staff to tackle them? I work with marketing directors and growing businesses to build their brand, improve their marketing materials, and connect better with their audience. . .”
Deb’s message on mobile:
“Looking for a trusted design partner? Do you have plenty of projects but lack the time and staff to tackle them? I work with marketing directors and growing businesses. . .”
Debbie’s message on computers and mobile:
“Clear and concise medical education for healthcare professionals, sales representatives, and corporate employees . . .”
Other Key Content in Your LinkedIn Profile
Focus the rest of your About section 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 to tell 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 your call to action, with your email address and if you’re comfortable, your phone number, at the end of your About section.
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Highlight Your Experience
This is the section for your positions. LinkedIn requires 3 positions (current and 2 past) for a complete profile.
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). Repeat some of the information from your About section here.
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.
Tips on Other Key Parts of Your LinkedIn Profile
Other key parts of your profile are:
- A professional photo
- An effective banner image
- Contact info
Use a professional photo
A professional photo is part of a complete LinkedIn profile. And having a professional headshot makes it much more likely that clients will take you seriously.
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. 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.
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 the Contact Info section (below your headline) and again in your About section (also called the summary). Also include your website URL in both places.
Include your industry, location, education, and skills
For a complete profile, you need to include your industry, location, education, and at least 3 skills. Your industry and skills also help you rank higher in search results.
Perfect your profile
As you’re finishing your profile:
- Proof it carefully for errors
- Make sure it looks great on computers and mobile devices
- Make sure your profile is publicly visible so clients can find you.
Learn more about how to write a complete, client-focused profile.
How a Large Network and Activity Help Clients Find Freelancers
While having a complete, client-focused LinkedIn profile is the most important thing in ranking high in search results, LinkedIn’s algorithm also uses your connections and your activity. In ranking high in search results, LinkedIn looks for:
- Common connections with the person who is doing the search
- Connections by degree (1st degree are strongest and 3rd degree are weakest).
Aim for at least 500 connections. Once you start actively building your network and engaging with the right people, it’s not hard to reach this level. Being active on LinkedIn means sharing content and engaging with other people on your content and their content. You can do this in less than 2 hours a week.
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Learn More About LinkedIn Profiles for Freelancers
Content from The Mighty Marketer
Examples of Complete, Client Focused LinkedIn Profiles
John Espirian, LinkedIn Learners Lounge