Seven ways for South African freelancers to get the most from LinkedIn

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Taking your business online

Unlike other social media platforms, LinkedIn was specifically created as a place where professionals can share ideas, generate leads and make new contacts. With 500 million-plus users – 40% of them estimated to be active on the platform daily – it’s the ideal place for South African consultants and freelancers to network with potential partners and clients.

Here are some ways you can benefit from a presence on LinkedIn:

Connect with customers and prospects

By developing a following on LinkedIn, you too can connect with customers and prospects, and share content with large numbers of people. As an IT security consultant, for example, you might offer information on the latest data breach and how clients should protect their businesses.

Build your brand

You can use LinkedIn to build your personal brand every day. Share your knowledge and help others learn about your business. Pass on information by posting links or write in your unique voice to build your brand.

Drive traffic to your website

While not all of the content you share on LinkedIn will link back to your website, some of it will. Sharing an interesting post can excite your target audience and generate clicks to drive traffic to your website.

Establish expertise

Who in your field is talking about the big, current topics in the industry? Are you? When you share your knowledge and expertise on LinkedIn, you can build a following – an audience that sees you as a thought leader. As you build your audience, your influence grows.

Editor’s note: Want to establish yourself as a thought leader? You’ll need a blog to go along with your social media strategy. Consider GoDaddy’s Managed WordPress. With our Quick Start Wizard, you’ll be posting (and sharing) in no time.

Make sales

Ultimately, these activities – connections, brand building, driving traffic, establishing expertise – all lead to the same place: sales. The bottom line is that LinkedIn has the potential to affect your bottom line, and that’s a big deal.

Here are seven tips to make sure you are top of mind when your contacts need someone with your talents.

  1. Review your headline.
  2. Take the time to tell your story.
  3. Show (don’t tell) your insights and expertise.
  4. Take advantage of LinkedIn Publishing.
  5. Dig into LinkedIn groups.
  6. Share your good news.
  7. Expand your presence by setting up a company page.

1. Review your headline

One way to stand out on LinkedIn is to have the right words below your name. They are what people will see in a search result, even if they don’t click through to your profile. These words will default to your job title, which might not be enough to make you stand out. Use this space to briefly spell out your value proposition in your industry:

  • Rather than copywriter, consider ‘I specialise in writing print and web ads and collateral for financial services companies.
  • Instead of ‘management consultant’, use ‘I help companies identify and fix inefficiencies in their procurement process’.

You have 120 characters to play with. Try to avoid self-given job titles some people might see as pretentious (‘maven’ or ‘guru’) and boastful language (‘superior designer’).

2. Take the time to tell your story

Now that you’ve fine-tuned your headline, review the summary underneath. Here’s your chance to tell your own professional story and give people an idea of what it’s like to work with you. The first 35 words – what people will see before people click the “see more” button – are the most important. Pique the reader’s interest so they will want to click to learn more about you.

3. Show (don’t tell) your insights and expertise

Don’t just tell people you’re the expert in consumer protection law – show it by uploading and sharing a post about it. This demonstrates the value you offer as a consultant or freelancer in a way that is 1,000 times more powerful than professional bragging. It’s a great way to build credibility and even start conversations that could turn into business leads.

4. Take advantage of LinkedIn Publishing

LinkedIn Publishing lets you write and post your own articles, which is useful if you have not yet found the time to set up a blog on your website. Alternatively, if you are writing posts for a blog or another social channel, you can use LinkedIn to extend your reach and improve your search engine ratings.

“Posting on LinkedIn Publishing gives you exposure to a different audience. And, you squeeze more juice out of your content,” says Michelle Messenger Garrett, a writer and PR consultant in this blog post on making the most of LinkedIn.

Choose subjects that will be of interest to your audience and that will position you as an expert with views that are worth listening to.

5. Check out LinkedIn groups

Another way to build credibility within your network is to use LinkedIn groups in your region or industry. These communities of shared interest offer a forum for sharing ideas and getting views from people who face the same challenges as you do or who might benefit from your expertise. Comment on and share posts that you find important or interesting. Not only will you build goodwill with the authors, but the posts you have liked and shared will show up on your own profile page.

6. Share your good news

In addition to sharing your blog posts and engaging with people in your network, you can use the platform to let your network know about the good things you’re up to. Awards, speaking engagements, a new client or a positive volunteer experience can all make for good LinkedIn announcements.

7. Expand your presence by setting up a company page

In addition to your personal profile, you can set up a company page, if you operate through a business of your own. You’ll need to have a LinkedIn account to add your company’s page. For more information, go here. On this page, you can:

Build your company’s profile. Tell your company’s story, as you did in the About Us section of your website. Make sure you include how you got started.

Add a Products & Services tab to highlight anything you want to show your target audience.

Ask for customer recommendations. Invite customers to recommend your services, then cultivate consumer trust by showcasing these endorsements on your Company Page.

Get some followers. Add a “follow” button on your website and include a link to your Company Page. Follow your clients and companies with which you do business, relevant professional organisations, your alumni association, even competitors. In many cases, they will follow you back. For tips on attracting followers, go here.

Share and post. By sharing, posting and getting your followers involved, your company is more likely to resonate with them. Building relationships on LinkedIn involves consistently publishing relevant content, responding to others’ content, and reaching out to make new connections. This can take time, but it’s an important step to creating a strong online presence. For more information on building relationships on LinkedIn, go here.


Connect with LinkedIn

As with many other online channels, success on the LinkedIn platform takes time and commitment. Many consultants find it to be an invaluable source of leads and professional information that more than justifies the effort they invest in it.

This article has been adapted from an original piece by Lauren Ernde.  

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