Contractors, here's the problem with LinkedIn
Acquired by Microsoft for an eye-watering $26 billion in 2016, LinkedIn now has 770 million users.
But what does LinkedIn really bring to the table for contractors and how do you hack the LinkedIn algorithm to attract more opportunities?
Here, exclusively for ContractorUK, Matt Craven, founder of CVIA and personal branding expert explains what contractors and senior professionals need to know about LinkedIn.
To access the 770 million professionals that we mentioned earlier, most recruiters pay more than £5,000 for the LinkedIn Recruiter licence. In the good old days, it was the recruitment firms with the biggest database that won the big contracts, but now they all have the same database, and that’s LinkedIn.
Even if you send your CV direct to an opportunity, 85% of clients / recruiters will still check you out on LinkedIn, so they'll either find you there in the first place or, once you make it onto a shortlist, they'll want to have a nosy at your online presence.
So, for contractors, there’s no escaping that having a strong LinkedIn profile is as important as having a strong CV. The trick is to increase your visibility by optimising your LinkedIn profile to beat the LinkedIn algorithm, but also make it appeal to the human reader when you appear in their search results.
A word of warning though. A good LinkedIn profile isn’t just a copy and paste of your CV. Our webinar for ContractorUK readers, on Monday Oct 25th will explain more.
Sales and marketing
As a contractor running a business, part of your job is to win work, and therefore, at times, you will wear the hat of your company’s Sales & Marketing Manager!
With this in mind, LinkedIn isn’t just a tool to ‘apply’ for contract opportunities; it’s also a tool for business development and networking.
LinkedIn allows you to identify, connect with and sell to decision-makers – also on LinkedIn -- using the Sales Navigator platform. For the uninitiated, Sales Navigator is specifically built for sales and marketing activity, so if you are wondering how you can win more work, have a look at Sales Nav and embed a social-selling strategy into your contracting business.
Now you know Sales Navigator, how about the Social Selling Index?
LinkedIn measures your sales effectiveness through the Social Selling Index (SSI) which, among other things, looks at your professional brand, online activity, and network.
Interestingly, LinkedIn claims that professionals with a higher SSI create 45% more opportunities than peers with lower SSI and are 51% more likely to reach their target. In fact, 78% of social sellers outsell peers who don’t use LinkedIn.
You can get your SSI score here:
Remember, if you have a high SSI, you will appear higher in the searches than contractors with a lower SSI and will therefore attract more contract opportunities.
Our upcoming webinar will talk about how contractors can improve their profile and SSI – more info here.
Think of Dyson, PwC, CISCO, and IBM. They all use thought leadership as a tool for corporate growth. It’s no longer a far fangled concept bandied about to sound intelligent, it’s a bona fide marketing strategy that allows organisations to build relationships, develop their credibility and entrench themselves as the experts in their field.
Contractors can also use thought leadership to elevate their profile, and those who sell themselves as experts and an ‘authority in their field’ are likely to attract more work, at better rates, and more frequently than those who hide under a rock.
Starting your journey to reach thought leadership status (or at least, being seen as an expert in your field), is easier than you think. But it’s your LinkedIn profile that will indicate to a potential client if you fall into this category.
Your thought leadership activity also triggers the LinkedIn algorithm and places you higher in the searches.
Our upcoming ContractorUK webinar on Monday Oct 25th will talk more about thought leadership. You can register for free here.
My final take
To conclude, the problem with LinkedIn is you can’t ignore it. Whether you are a contractor, job-seeker, an executive with an industry profile, a sales / marketing professional, or just someone going about your everyday business, people are checking you out on LinkedIn ALL THE TIME. And if you don’t have a strong LinkedIn profile, and a positive personal brand and professional footprint, it will be detrimental to your business and career.