How to Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile if You’re Self-Employed

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LinkedIn is an effective social networking platform to display expertise, build connections, and promote your services. Your profile sets the stage for your first contact with potential new clients, displaying your work history, client recommendations, and skillset.

Because the profile template is geared towards a more traditional employment background, it can be tricky to figure out how to best present yourself as an small business owner. Establish a credible web presence and help your business thrive by following these tips to optimize your profile.

Headline: Sell Your Services

The Headline section is a short caption that appears below your name and is the first thing people will see in search results, group discussions, and in their home feed. The Headline automatically defaults to your current title, but editing it to include keywords and a short descriptor of your services will make it much more effective and eye-catching.

For example, if you’re a financial advisor, your Headline might read: “Financial Consultant. I advise businesses on how to plan, invest, and save.” There is a 120-character limit for the Headline section, but try and keep your description short and to the point.

Be sure to include keywords to enhance search engine optimization (SEO) when filling out all parts of your profile. Optimizing simply means using keywords or terms that define what you do such as “SQL database expert,” or “acquisition marketing.”. This helps to optimize your profile for search, which means it will be more likely to appear when someone searches those keywords or phrases on LinkedIn or a search engine.

Summary: Tell Your Story

The Summary section is your chance to write about your professional history, qualifications, and goals. Capture the attention and curiosity of your desired target audience by highlighting a few accomplishments you are most proud of, your values and passions related to the industry, and a call to action such as directing readers to your email address or personal website for additional information.

Experience: Fill in the Details

The Experience section divides past work experience by position. Rather than listing each project you’ve completed one-by-one, consider these two alternative options.

  • Sort your work experience by category. To do this, highlight a specific type of work you performed in the Company Name field. For example, “SEO Expert.” Include a self-employed descriptor in the Title field, such as “Independent Contractor.” Then, in the Description field, include a brief summary of the various projects you’ve completed in this work category.
  • Sort your work experience by client. If you’ve done a large amount of work for a particular client and are not bound by a non-disclosure agreement, this is a good option. List the client’s name in the Company Name field, your main role in the Title field, and your project accomplishments in the Description field.

If you can, include quantifiable points throughout descriptions of your work to provide better context. For example, if you’re an IT consultant describing a project, rather than saying you, “helped decrease the amount of IT ticket requests,” say: “improved ticket turnover rate by 15%.”

Once you’ve organized your work experience, add corresponding documents, photos, links, videos, or presentations to each section to provide prospective clients with concrete examples of your work.

You’ll also see a section called Projects, which is listed under the Accomplishments header. This can be a good place to highlight tangible things you’ve worked on such as an annual report or web launch. You can link to a supporting URL or add team members you may have collaborated with.

Skills and Endorsements: Display Professionalism and Credibility

The Skills section is a useful visual summary of your expertise. List your industry-relevant skills here. Endorsements also appear here and serve as built-in testimonials. Don’t hesitate to reach out to past clients to write a recommendation on your behalf. Just be sure to send a personalized message to the person reminding them of the project you worked on and your accomplishments. Also endorse companies or other independent contractors you’ve worked with. They will often be happy to reciprocate the recommendation.

Connections: Build Your Business

As you begin to connect with current and past clients, industry leaders, and colleagues, be sure to maintain an active and visible presence. Link your blog or website to your account, and share relevant news and business updates. Joining groups is a great way to add your voice to the mix and build connections. Use groups to ask and answer questions, share ideas, and collaborate on projects.

Starting your own consulting business can be challenging, so take advantage of opportunities to get noticed. Once you’ve completed your profile, include a link to it on your website, blog, email signature, or other social profiles.

Check out MBO’s LinkedIn Group and company page where we share both industry news and MBO-specific updates.


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