Q: I’m a freelance consultant and find my clients through word of mouth and referrals, so I don’t use LinkedIn very often. Is it so important? What features are worth considering?
A: You are doing something right in your business to get your new customers to come to you through word of mouth and referrals. Most salespeople find word of mouth, referrals, and introductions to be the most effective ways to gain new customers. If the pace at which you are acquiring new clients is okay with you, and you are comfortable with the amount of work you have and your growth path, you may not need other methods. Most independent consultants have a business growth goal in mind and part of what they look for are tools to increase their client acquisitions. One of these tools is LinkedIn.
People who are looking for professionals for all types of work often turn to friends and colleagues in terms of networking, but they also look to LinkedIn. They use it to find more information about a person who has been referred. Recruiters can also use it to generate multiple leads to fill specific roles.
When LinkedIn was first introduced, some recruiters feared it could hurt their business. However, this turned out to be an unwarranted concern. LinkedIn has not only made the process more efficient, it offers more options. Individuals can search for the expertise they need in an easy-to-use platform that allows people to post opportunities, jobs, gigs, and projects. Plus, they can connect with groups of professionals around the world to match skills and / or add support for larger projects. LinkedIn provides a streamlined solution to connect more people and market yourself to a larger audience, and they don’t pay me to say that.
Your LinkedIn profile should be a dynamic tool, something that you keep up to date in terms of skill sets, skill additions, and courses or certifications you may have achieved. Posting and commenting are also effective ways to gain exposure and showcase your expertise. LinkedIn can be useful for all types of professionals at all levels, even if it is used for different purposes. New graduates may try to build their network, senior executives may have started their LinkedIn profile years ago, and other people still use LinkedIn even though they clearly state that they have retired.
A professional Rolodex has been replaced by LinkedIn which is now the extended professional networking platform. LinkedIn makes a big world smaller. It gives you access to everyone and if you want to expand your world you can easily. You don’t have to, but LinkedIn offers this easy accessibility to a larger group of people and a virtual work environment if you are looking for it. Any professional can show off their skills in pictures, white papers, and presentations. And it’s always your choice on how you want to be public or private.
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