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When your phone is ringing off the hook, and potential client emails are coming in every day, it's easy to forget about the importance of attracting new business. But, if work starts to dry up, many contractors instantly panic about where that next client is going to come from.
One excellent tool for seeking out new business is LinkedIn. The professional social network offers a potentially global audience for anybody willing to put in some time and effort on the platform.
In this guide, we'll give you six simple steps you can take to get the most out of LinkedIn.
Get your profile up to date
Think of your LinkedIn profile page as a living CV for you and your contracting business. As such, it makes sense to keep it up to date with your latest skills, experience, and professional qualifications.
Don't overlook other details such as your profile photo, either. In short, if you wouldn't have it on the cover of your business brochure, don't have it on your LinkedIn page.
It's good practice to carry out regular housekeeping on your profile, too. If you've not had any significant changes in the last six months, a simple tweak of your 'About' section is usually enough to keep things fresh.
Engage with your network
At its core, LinkedIn is a social media platform. That means it’s built to aid and promote those who interact most readily. It's no place to be a wallflower.
That doesn't mean you have to like, share and comment on every post in your feed. But, it will help your visibility to others if you're active in the industry discussion feeds.
It's not just public engagement that counts. Be sure to respond to direct messages promptly and always send a quick thank you note to anyone who sends a connection request. That small gesture could start a conversation that leads to work.
Post content regularly
We've discussed the importance of engaging with other people's content. But what about creating your own? Is that important too?
Simply put, it's crucial to be creating and publishing your own content regularly. Fortunately, that doesn't have to mean posting professionally produced videos and hour-long audio interviews. It's just as powerful to post out a small number of concise written posts every week.
A great way to get people engaging with your content is to post things out that are useful for people. For example, if you're a copywriter, it makes sense to post out tips and advice on how anyone can improve their writing. People will share your posts with their audience, and next time they need a freelance copywriter, your name is at the top of the pile.
Grow your network
As with any marketing strategy, if you're only ever promoting your brand to the same audience, eventually the well of work will run dry. So, make sure that you're regularly sending out connection requests.
Now, it's obvious that firing off random requests to every lady and her dog isn't going to yield great results. So here's an effective three-step strategy instead:
- Publish a post featuring a helpful tip or piece of advice
- Watch for any interactions that come from people who you're not connected with and send them a connection request
- Follow up with a quick note to say thanks for the like/share/comment and, in one sentence, tell them about your contracting business.
The above method is much more likely to get results (and, in time, new work) than random connection requests.
Build leads with messages
Once you've built up a decent number of connections, consider spending half a day messaging your network to tell them about what you do. You don't need to tell them your life story—just a quick note to say what you've been up to and that if they need your expertise, you're here to help.
Keep this kind of messaging spree to twice a year or similar. And, if you've got a lot of connections, it could be worth compiling a spreadsheet to keep tabs on who you've messaged and what their reaction was. Refer back to it for future messaging sessions.
Only pay for LinkedIn Premium if you really need to
A lot of people think that to make the most of LinkedIn, they need a Premium account. That's not really true. In most cases, you can quite happily build a following and get new business leads without ever paying a penny to LinkedIn.
That said if you find yourself regularly hitting the limits of the free account then give it a go. You can pay monthly, so it's easy enough to try the Premium service for a few weeks and then jettison it if you do not see any benefit.
LinkedIn is a platform that has as many detractors as it has fans. But, by seeing it as a tool to win business and promote your contracting business, it is undoubtedly worth your time.
Looking for more tips and tactics on contracting success? Check out our resource hub: