LinkedIn is launching some new features that should be of great interest to both freelancers and the people who hire them.
The new LinkedIn Open for Business feature allows individual freelancers and small businesses to declare themselves available to hire, and to list the services they offer. Meanwhile, people who are hiring can use a new “Find an Expert” function to ask their network for suitable recommendations.
What is LinkedIn Open for Business?
LinkedIn Open for Business is a new LinkedIn feature, added in September 2019. It turns LinkedIn into a place where you can actively market your services, and works in tandem with a new ability to showcase what you offer as part of your LinkedIn profile.
At the time of writing, these new features are being “gradually rolled out” across LinkedIn members. As such, you may find they’re not yet available on your profile. If this is the case, it’s worth checking back regularly.
It’s important to note that LinkedIn Open for Business is NOT the same as LinkedIn ProFinder, which is a US-only service that helps connect businesses and freelancers. The new features discussed in this article are available globally and only require a free LinkedIn profile.
How Does it Work?
If you are actively seeking clients, you can make use of the new “Add Services” feature on a personal or business LinkedIn page. There’s more information on how to do this here.
After adding your services, you can then set yourself as “Open for Business.” This will allow your profile to show up when people are searching for the kind of services you offer. If you are a LinkedIn Premium subscriber, people will also be able to freely message you to ask about your services, even if they’re not connected to you.
When using the LinkedIn search bar, members will be able to choose a new option of filtering “by service provider,” in order to specifically look for people who are “open for business.”
LinkedIn Find an Expert
Rounding off this functionality is a new “Find an Expert” feature. Anybody looking for a freelancer or service provider can now add a new post on LinkedIn to specifically ask their network for help finding suitable people.
LinkedIn Find an Expert is being rolled out as an option on the LinkedIn mobile app. When you select “Find an Expert,” you are asked some questions about your requirements, as shown below.
LinkedIn then assists you in creating a post, including relevant skills and hashtags. You then post the request, and wait for your connections to suggest suitable people – from your mutual connections, or beyond.
This new LinkedIn functionality appears poised to make LinkedIn a far more useful network for individual freelancers. However, how well it works will depend on how well it’s all publicised, as people won’t use a feature they don’t know is there. This is my primary concern.
The documentation states that the LinkedIn Find an Expert feature is available via the mobile app. I couldn’t see any way to create a request for recommendations via the desktop version of LinkedIn. This may only be a temporary situation, but it feels like a wasted opportunity. I suspect that only the most avid users of LinkedIn use the mobile app as a matter of course.
Similarly, the “gradual” roll-out of this functionality could mean that people look for it, find it’s not available to them yet, and then forget all about it…
On the other hand, with the right publicity, this new LinkedIn functionality could be big news, and genuinely useful to freelancers and clients alike. Encouraging people to actively introduce trusted freelancers to their business contacts is a great idea. It’s something that happens casually all the time, but this could really elevate it. It all depends on whether people actually become aware that the features exist.
What to do Next
If you’re a freelancer seeking work, it’s certainly worth refreshing your LinkedIn profile with LinkedIn Open for Business in mind. Even if the functionality takes some time to gain exposure and momentum, there’s no harm in highlighting the services you have to offer, especially as you can do so for free.
If you want to truly optimise your LinkedIn, you might want to take a look at Jobscan, which can help you to use the right keywords and maximise the impact of your profile. There’s a review of it here, and we also have more LinkedIn profile tips here.
These new LinkedIn features could be great news for businesses – but only if people start using them. You can help things along by sharing this post!