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8 Ways Freelancers can Build a Powerful Personal Brand on LinkedIn

Guest PostGuest Post
December 11, 2017

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from independent LinkedIn Trainer and Speaker, Virginia Bautista

“Being a generic is a choice. If you are generic, a cog in the system, you will always be struggling — struggling to be paid fairly, struggling to get new clients, struggling to have the freedom to make a difference.” – Seth Godin, world-renowned entrepreneur, best-selling author and speaker

As a freelancer, you have a choice.  Would you rather be generic or remarkable?

If you want to get paid your worth, work less hours and enjoy a steady stream of income, you must stand out. And you can do this by building a powerful personal brand that empowers you to define and communicate your value to your ideal clients.

You might ask, “What has personal branding got to do with freelancing?” It’s simple—a strong personal brand will differentiate you from the millions of other freelancers in the world.

Personal branding is an ongoing process of strategically marketing yourself and your career as a brand. The truth is, whether you like it or not, you already have a personal brand.

Tip: Try to do a Google search of your name and see what pops up, especially on the first page. Those pages can create an impression on who you are and what you do.

Why Freelancers Must be on LinkedIn

As the world’s largest network of professionals, LinkedIn now has over 500 million members. Here are some LinkedIn stats that matter to you as a freelancer:

Source: The Case for B2B Marketing on LinkedIn

Unfortunately, most freelancers have no idea how a powerful personal brand on LinkedIn could get them in front of decision-makers and eventually land high-paying clients. Here are some tips for you:

How to Build a Powerful Personal Brand on LinkedIn

#1 Keyword-optimize your LinkedIn profile so you’ll rank high on searches. On LinkedIn, you don’t have to scan the market to find potential clients. Instead, you can keyword-optimize your profile and your target clients will come find you.

By simply adding keywords to your profile, you’ll land on the first page, or at the very least, appear on LinkedIn search results once people search using your keywords.

Google search also loves LinkedIn, which has a high domain authority. A highly optimized LinkedIn profile appears on page one of Google search engine results page (SERP), usually on the top three results. You can have control over how you want people to find you. And that’s personal branding at work.

#2 Grow your network. Aim for at least 500 connections. The best practice is to ensure a highly targeted network by using the search function to find your ideal clients. Here’s how you can do it:

Step 1. Put the cursor on the search box. Type in your keyword. Select the ‘People’ tab to get the results.

Step 2. Filter them based on the demographics. So if you want to connect only with business owners from the US, you can choose ‘United States’ on the ‘Locations’ filter option.

#3. Add your skills and ask for endorsements. Only your 1st-degree connections can endorse you for your skills, so if you have a few connections, you can’t get ahead here. The ‘Featured Skills & Endorsements’ feature is essential in being found on LinkedIn. By simply adding more than five skills, you will be 27x more likely to appear on search results.

The more endorsements you have in a particular skill, the higher the chance that you’ll get found, so don’t be afraid to ask your connections to endorse you for your skills! And be generous in endorsing your connections, as well.

If possible, ask for endorsements from those who are highly skilled in the same skill. For example, if you’re highly skilled in writing, ask for endorsements from other highly skilled writers. This has more weight than an endorsement from a person who has no writing skills. T

#4.  Optimize your headline. Next to your profile photo, your headline is the first part that other LinkedIn members see. In 120 characters, you should tell your target clients what you do. Add your keywords to your headline so you’ll rank high on search results.

By default, LinkedIn uses your current job title as your headline, but you can edit this to properly position yourself in the industry.

To edit your headline, click on the pencil icon on the right side of your profile photo and make the necessary changes.

#5.  Optimize your profile summary. Most LinkedIn users don’t add a profile summary. This is a huge mistake. Your profile summary is a place to really “connect” and make your message resonate with your target clients. Here are some quick tips in optimizing your profile summary:

  • Your profile summary gives you a chance to “talk” to your ideal clients. No, this is not a place for you to sell your services, but a perfect place to let your ideal clients know the value you bring to the table.
  • In writing your summary, answer the question, “How can I help my ideal clients solve their problems?” You can’t fake this. You won’t know how to help your ideal clients if you haven’t done your research, so do your homework. Use up to 2,000 characters here.
  • Add your keywords. Make the profile summary client-focused!

Always end with a call to action (CTA). If they’re interested in your services, how do you want them to proceed? Connect with you? Send you an email? Visit your website? Whatever it is, make it clear with a strong CTA.

#6.  Find your unique voice. Here’s the truth: Without a unique voice, you will wander endlessly on LinkedIn. Without clarity on your niche, your voice and your purpose, you can’t get the right mix of connections and you can’t create the best content that will help you build a strong brand on LinkedIn. So do your homework—find your unique voice.

#7.  Demonstrate your expertise by creating original content. If you want high-quality clients, you have to show what you can do for them through original content. If you’re not a writer, don’t worry—content comes in different forms such as articles, infographics, videos, presentations, images, etc.

Use the best type of content that will showcase your expertise. In my case, every article I publish drives high-quality clients to my profile, so each article to me is worth a lot! By utilizing LinkedIn Publisher and creating original content consistently, you can convert your writing skills to dollars.

#8.  Connect, engage, empower. Remember this: Personal branding is not about you. Don’t ever think that you have to brag to stand out. Definitely not. Personal branding is about the value you give not only to your target clients, but to your network.

LinkedIn is a professional networking site. It’s a place to find like-minded people who can help accelerate your success. Remember the saying, ‘It’s not what you know, but who you know that matters’? In many cases, it applies to LinkedIn.

Many of my quality leads are my 1st-degree connections’ connections (so they’re my 2nd-degree connections). They found me through my connections’ engagement with my content.

So engage with your connections’ content and offer help, if needed. As you grow your network and become known in your niche, more people will approach you for help. Take the chance to add value to their lives. And you’ll see — the returns are high.

Why am I Telling You This?

As a freelancer, I know the challenges of not having a steady stream of income, and not enjoying the benefits that office-based employees receive.

On the other hand, I know that freelancers can do great work while enjoying the freedom that freelancing brings. But first, we have to get paid fairly and live a more secure life.

What I found is that—personal branding on LinkedIn is the first step to stop being generic.

LinkedIn has helped me reinvent my career. Early this year, I set a major goal, which I planned to accomplish in the next 2-3 years. I had no idea at the time how I would do that. I just said to myself, “Just do it.”

Until now, I still couldn’t believe that I got what I wanted in three months—all because of my strong presence on LinkedIn. Opportunities have the power to multiply. One opportunity always leads to better ones, and it never ends.

But first, you have to invest in yourself, find your unique voice, and define and communicate your value.

Now’s the Time to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Getting out of your comfort zone may be hard, but only at the beginning. Make that big decision to stand out. Tell your story.
Invest in personal branding. Go out of your comfort zones and you will reap enormous rewards and attract amazing opportunities.

With a strong brand, you can charge what you want, get paid for doing what you love and enjoy a steady stream of income. As you grow your influence, you’d be able to make a difference by helping people who need your expertise.
Through a strong LinkedIn presence, I have (and you can achieve these, too!):

(1) achieved financial independence (a challenge for many freelancers);
(2) been featured twice in one of the world’s top-tier business magazines (Forbes 1, 2);
(3) been featured in reputable and popular online magazines in the Philippines (Entrepreneur Philippines and Female Network);
(4) formed my own consulting firm;
(5) been invited to speak in conventions and conferences;
(6) collaborated with a US-based professor for a publication in Journal of Business Research;
(7) conducted corporate training;
(8) been interviewed in various online publications and Facebook groups; and
(9) formed business partnerships for my LinkedIn training services, among others.

Personal branding on LinkedIn is a  journey. Once your brand is established, it will continuously bring clients and opportunities to you. It takes time to build a powerful personal brand, but I assure you, it’s absolutely worth it!

Virginia Bautista is the first and only independent LinkedIn Trainer & Consultant based in the Philippines. She helps professionals, consultants and freelancers build a powerful personal brand on LinkedIn. A freelance writer and editor for 10 years, Virginia discovered the power of LinkedIn in 2014. Since then, LinkedIn has opened up tremendous opportunities to her. Join Virginia’ Facebook group and learn more about how you can leverage LinkedIn to succeed in freelancing: LinkedIn for Freelancers.

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