Watch your backs: Upwork, Fiverr, and other freelance talent marketplaces, LinkedIn ProFinder is moving in to town. And with 433 million users, it’s going to be a juggernaut!
LinkedIn is trialling a new service (currently in the US only) that matches people with business services and it’s called ProFinder. You need to prepare yourself for it now, to avoid being left behind.
I read about it on Social Media Today and was compelled to go straight to LinkedIn to see what it’s about.
LinkedIn ProFinder is a freelancer-for-hire service that is being rolled out in the US.
It’s free and the reason I think it’s going to be good is because it marries buyers with sellers, but with added social connection already built in. I did a quick search for a video editor on the US beta and I can see someone who is known to one of my LinkedIn contacts. Not only that but it displays their listing with recommendations too. LinkedIn ProFinder allows you to leverage the power of your network on LinkedIn to find work, and that’s not bad!
The reason I believe the LinkedIn ProFinder service is going to be such a success is because it leverages social proof.
Wikipedia definition: “Social proof, also known as informational social influence, is a psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others reflect correct behaviour for a given situation. This effect is prominent in ambiguous social situations where people are unable to determine the appropriate mode of behaviour, and is driven by the assumption that surrounding people possess more knowledge about the situation.”
Social proof has been used in advertising for years “I’m [insert celebrity name} and I use [insert product name]. It’s still used and that’s because it works. Who hasn’t lusted after Cheryl’s shiny hair and picked up the l’Oreal product knowing full well in your heart that it’ll take more than a supermarket product to give you the same dramatic effects!
Social proof is alive and well on the internet.
- Daily we turn to customer reviews on shopping sites to validate our purchase decisions before we buy. That’s user based social proof.
- Visit the app store and rely on the top download charts to guide your purchases? That’s wisdom of the crowds social proof.
- Ever see a TripAdvisor hotel that a friend has been to? It’s highly likely you’ve booked in there too, thanks to friends social proof.
And now LinkedIn introduces the wisdom of your (corporate) friends as social proof for your professional services shopping!
Because Pro Finder displays connections you have in common, as well as recommendations for suppliers, it is highly likely you’ll give that listing more consideration.
How LinkedIn ProFinder Works
- You put yourself forward as a service provider in the categories covered above. Applications are being checked by humans, and they are pretty quick at getting back to you. They’ll email you to let you know you’re in!
- LinkedIn members search the service and hopefully will find your listing. It’s more likely to rank higher if you have shared connections, and relevant recommendations.
- The buyer sends a request for proposal with 5 questions they’d like you to answer. These are fully customisable. When you respond to the request, they get full access to your LinkedIn profile.
- If you’ve got what they are looking for, they’ll reach out via Message and let the selling begin!
ProFinder puts the selling into #socialselling.
3 Things You Must Do Now To Get Ready For ProFinder
- The most important thing is connections. This might make me re-consider my approach to LinkedIn contact requests. My philosophy for LinkedIn has always been to only connect with people I know or have met – either on or offline. But now I think I might consider and increase my contacts so as to rank higher on ProFinder. This could be a controversial one, until we see in our market how fast ProFinder takes off, it might be best to leave this one, and move on to …
- Work on your recommendations. According to LinkedIn itself, “a good recommendation has 3 parts – it clearly defines your role on a project, it references the skills used, and includes a date”. Go back over your invoices from last year and form a list of your clients. Expand it to include people you’ve worked with over the years. Then go and ask each of them who hasn’t already provided one, for a recommendation. It’s hard, especially for us Irish, to actually ask for praise – but trust me: it’s so well worth it!
- Back to basics – make sure your profile is in tip top shape. Whether or not you’re using ProFinder, if a potential buyer is checking you out, you’ve got to be sure you’re looking as great as you can. If you’re promoting a particular service on ProFinder, go back and make sure that service is mentioned liberally throughout your profile, especially your headline.
Things To Do When ProFinder Comes To Ireland
- Go back to your summary and make sure it’s written directly to anyone checking you out on ProFinder. See the example above.
- Pro tip from Denise Wakeman who lives in the US and has actually got to use the service: “After you’re approved for ProFinder, spend time reviewing the expired requests that were made (before you signed up) matching your service expertise. Study the language used to describe the type of projects and the details, specifically. Make a note of the keywords that match your skills and experience. Knowing the language your prospective leads are using to describe the type of service your provide can help you tweak your profile.”
- Start re-packaging your blog content to LinkedIn Pulse, so you can show off your knowledge to intending buyers checking you out.
Potential Size Of The Market Is Massive
It makes sense for LinkedIn to go after this space, it is the perfect introducer and the market is already there. There are currently 433 million users on LinkedIn; two new accounts are opened every second. In Ireland, 28% of adults have an account, with 18% daily active users. (Source: IPSOS) Right now the service is free in the US, it could turn into a nice source of revenue for LinkedIn if it takes off. It seems, however, that this find-a-freelancer space is hot right now. Only last week I received an email pitching the same service from Active Campaign.
Whether LinkedIn ProFinder is going to be a hit or not still remains to be seen. Most US bloggers are waiting and seeing. But I advise you to get prepared for when ProFinder reaches our shores and at least establish a presence there. There is nothing to lose, and plenty to gain.
And don’t forget – you heard it here first!
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