By Susan Johnston
Are you on LinkedIn yet? If not, what are you waiting for?
This professional networking site has progressed beyond its early roots as a job-hunting tool and resume directory into a vibrant community of well-connected professionals in virtually every industry.
Here are five features you may not know about—but they can help you build your network and boost the likelihood of landing new freelance projects through the site.
Most of these are available with a basic account, but Premium users get even more features and search customization options.
- LinkedIn Skills. Thousands of professional writers use LinkedIn, but LinkedIn Skills can help you get a leg up on the crowd by showcasing your specific skills. Do you specialize in writing white papers or nonprofit grants? Have you created video scripts or executive speeches? Are you a technical writer or a features writer? Whatever your specialty (or specialties), adding those areas of expertise to your profile through this feature allows prospective clients in need of their skills to find you more easily.
- Saved Job Searches. Although many of the jobs listed on LinkedIn are full time, occasionally you’ll see freelance gigs as well. Instead of checking back periodically for new opportunities, create a “saved search” for whatever keywords you’d like and LinkedIn will notify you via email when new opportunities with those keywords are posted. With a basic account, you can save a limited number of job searches by clicking the word “save” once you’ve typed in your search terms on the jobs homepage.
- Introductions. You may already know about InMail (LinkedIn’s messaging services) and recommendations (which allow you to include testimonials from clients or colleagues on your profile). Introductions are another handy feature. Say, for instance, you’re searching for editors at a trade publication and you see that someone from your writer’s group is connected to an editor you’d like to contact. Now that you know they’re connected, you could ask your colleague for an email introduction or you might request an introduction to that editor via LinkedIn, where the editor can see your credentials all nicely arranged in a polished format for instant credibility.
- Blog Integration. LinkedIn offers all kinds of cool apps that will automatically sync with your profile, such as Twitter updates, travel updates, and more. I’d be careful with those if your tweets err on the casual side (after all, LinkedIn is a professional network) or if you tweet a lot. But I think syncing up your blog to your LinkedIn profile is a great idea. There’s an application specifically for WordPress, but Blog Link (powered by Type Pad) supports all blog platforms.
Resume Builder. What do you do when a client requests a resume but you haven’t updated it since you left the Land of Cubicles several years ago? As long as you’ve been updating your LinkedIn profile, there’s no need to update a separate doc because so you can use LinkedIn’s Resume Builder to easily transfer the contents of your profile into a polished resume that’s ready to share online, export as a PDF, or print. Resume Builder includes several different templates and allows you to customize the information or rearrange the order so you’re not starting from scratch.NOTE: LinkedIn no longer supports Resume Builder.
For more LinkedIn tips specifically for freelancers, check out Susan Johnston’s new book LinkedIn and Loving It, due out on September 21 through Rockable Press. (Yes, I got a sneak-peek, and I recommend and affiliate sell it.) Her writing has also appeared in The Boston Globe, Self Magazine, and on dozens of websites and blogs. She blogs at The Urban Muse.