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How can LinkedIn help you to grow your freelance business?

If you have been following my blog for some time you might remember this post where I talked about my experience in social media. Well, there have been a few changes since then in my social media preferences.

One of the huge changes happened when Jonathan Senior, the head of Sharp End Training, and I decided to create a special group for freelance translators. LinkedIn group. My first reaction to any changes is always panic. I have no clue why. But as a grown-up person and a business owner I understand the value of change and going beyond the limits of my comfort zone. So I did it. I became a manager of our group and you know what? I love it now. I absolutely love it. We now have over 400 members and have some interesting discussions going on. You can see the group profile and enter the group here if you want.

This group also gave me the urge to start exploring the options that LinkedIn gives to its users. I started participating in the discussions not only in my group, but in a couple others, and started sharing different updates, interesting links with LinkedIn community. And you know what? Now LinkedIn is one of the main sources of traffic to my blog which has almost tripled since the time when I wrote that first post about my social media experience. And I've been able to make some very interesting connections there with highly respected colleagues and business owners around the world.

'I (heart) LinkedIn...' photo (c) 2005, Adam Rifkin - license:
So how can you benefit from LinkedIn?

1. It is not just perceived as a social network. LinkedIn positions itself and strives to be an online network of influential business people. So using LinkedIn you may meet business owners and executives that you wouldn't have a chance to reach any other way, especially if you are living in a different country. That gives you a unique chance to find new direct clients and higher paying projects.
2. If you have a blog that you update regularly you can integrate it in your LinkedIn profile and share your updates there, as well as in LinkedIn groups. I've already mentioned about the positive impact it had on my blog and I am sure it can work for you, too ;)
3. I also like the recommendations feature. I haven't used it much yet, but definitely plan to do it more.
4. They also offer a new possibility to endorse people in your network. It is a great chance to express your appreciation for what your colleagues do, and it's a great feeling when they endorse you. No need to say that it is important for your potential clients to see what your colleagues think about your abilities and skills.
5. I haven't yet tried LinkedIn Answers feature, but I think it's a great idea. Answering the questions in your specialty area may serve as a proof of your professionalism and knowledge.
6. LinkedIn groups is the feature I definitely like a lot. You can ask questions, participate in discussions started by other colleagues, you can start your own discussions and (in some groups) share new articles from your blog! This groups feature definitely helps you to get to know your colleagues and build new business relationships and maybe even partnerships.

I think LinkedIn offers unique networking opportunities for freelancers. What can you say about your experience? What benefits of LinkedIn do you see in your business and what are some of the struggles you are going through in your networking efforts?

Here are some interesting links about LinkedIn. I used some of them to prepare this post:
The benefits of LinkedIn for business
100+ ways to use LinkedIn - this article has a wealth of links and information all about LinkedIn
15 Benefits of LinkedIn for Sales People and Business Owners


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