How to generate leads from LinkedIn – Guide for Freelancers
Last week I saw something terrible happen. A friend of mine lost a $10,000 contract because of one tiny detail. He didn’t use LinkedIn. His profile was empty, and the lead decided to eliminate him for that reason. This was completely avoidable. As a web designer, LinkedIn has become one of my favorite ways to find web design leads. It’s the largest professional social network on the web, so it’s a great tool for generating leads of all kinds. In this post I’m going to breakdown how I generate leads from LinkedIn in a few ways:
- Part 1 – How to Generate Leads on LinkedIn with Your Profile
- Part 2 – How to Generate Leads on LinkedIn with Search
- Part 3 – How to Generate Leads on LinkedIn with Paid Tools and Services
The recommendations on this page are some of the biggest “quick wins” you can make to start generating leads. Honestly, they only take about 15 minutes per week to apply, but you can literally generate fix and six-figure leads each week from these simple actions.
Since I wrote this list I thought I’d quickly mention my web design leads newsletter. The steps below outline exactly how we find web design leads for a private newsletter we send each week. If you’re a web designer, you can actually skip a lot of the process outlined below and just get the best leads on LinkedIn sent to you. Learn more about how it works by visiting the sales page here.
How to Generate Leads on LinkedIn with Your Profile
So first let’s talk about how to list freelance and contract work on LinkedIn in a way ensures you generate more leads with less effort. We’ll even include a trick for how to feature testimonials without using LinkedIn’s “recommendations” section. So let’s get started:
Step 1 – Attach PDF work samples directly to your job history.
This is a quick tip that almost no one knows about or uses. You can easily attach a PDF or image that can serve as a lead magnet or work sample directly on your profile. It can look like this:
This is great if you are looking to generate leads because it gives clients a taste of what they’re searching for. Even better, you likely already have PDF’s with case studies so attaching them is a synch.
(To do this click on Add to Profile > Featured > Media). If you need help creating a work sample, read our guide on sending work sample to see exactly what clients are looking for.
Step 2 – Create a company profile for your company.
A lot of people list their company under Experience, but don’t create a company profile page for it.This extra 10 minutes of effort uploading your logo, location, specialization can go a long way in beefing up your credibility for leads visiting your profile. So don’t skip it! Compare how differently these two profiles would come off to a lead visiting your profile:
As an added bonus, leads will also be able to follow your company profile which means your posts show up in their feed.
Step 3 – Describe your value proposition in your headline
Next to your name and location, your headline is one of the most visible and important components of your profile.
To generate more leads you can give a quick summary of what you do, using keywords that are relevant to what your ideal clients are looking for.
Focus on addressing your lead’s biggest pain point, and paint the dream of what fixing this would feel like. More detail on how to find the exact words to use out here.
Step 4 – Give 5 recommendations to past clients today
One of the best ways to generate leads on LinkedIn is by having more recommendations on your profile.
To get more recommendations: give some out. I recommend giving 5 out today if you’d like to get 1 in the next week or so. By giving recommendations to freelancers and clients you’ve worked with, or by using the “Ask for a Recommendation” feature, you’re more likely to receive recommendations than if you just sit and wait.
Bonus tip: be sure to personalize the request and provide some helpful pointers on what should be said that will be attractive to leads visiting your profile.
Step 5 – Add your accomplishments to your About Summary
The first thing leads will see when they visit your profile is your summary text box at the top of your LinkedIn profile that lets you write up to 2,000 characters about yourself.
This can be a good place to describe what you love doing while showcasing your communication skills with clear and concise writing. Include any keywords that you couldn’t weave into the introduction and don’t forget to provide a brief description of your services.
Step 6 – Add client testimonials to your About Summary
Here’s a trick to give leads a look at what past clients have to say about your work even if you don’t have any “recommendations” on your profile. Do this by adding past testimonials to the about section of your profile. And remember, when it comes to testimonials, the best way to get more of them is to write them for the client. Write the testimonial you want leads on your profile to see then email a past client and ask if you can use it.
Step 7 – Put contract work in your Featured Section
Another great way to generate more leads from your profile is to show them what you can do using the featured section on your profile. This works similarly to a portfolio except leads don’t have to go anywhere to get a glimpse at your work. In fact, you can bring all of the information and work samples leads would see on your portfolio or website directly to the top of your LinkedIn profile.
Step 8 – Write posts and comments that attract leads and sell your work
One of the most prominent profile elements is your recent activity. These are any recent comments or posts that you’ve shared on LinkedIn. To generate more leads you can use these posts to as updates and a way to share thoughts about your industry. To open up your reach beyond just your audience, you can also use hashtags and comment on other people’s posts. In combination with the tactics listed above, this can be a powerful way to generate leads because your profile will be more likely to convert them. Writing posts and comments that get noticed by more people is by far the best way to generate leads from your profile. Study your followers who do this well already for tips.
These are the highest leverage tips for generating more leads with your LinkedIn profile. Like with any inbound lead generation, these tactics can take a while to work. That’s why I recommend supplementing your lead generation strategy on LinkedIn with some outbound tactics as well. To do this, I recommend LinkedIn’s built-in search feature.
How to Generate Leads on LinkedIn with Search
LinkedIn Search has been one of the most consistent ways I find $10k+ web design leads for my lead newsletter. Wanna know how I uncover thousands of big budget projects on LinkedIn every year? That’s what I’m going to dive into next. What I love about this approach is that you’re in control. You don’t have to wait for leads to come to you, you can simply decide to spend the next 15 minutes on this and have generate great leads as a result. Here’s what to do:
Step 1 – Type your lead keywords into the search box
The first step is to ask yourself: What kind of work am I looking for? and How would a leads that is looking to hire someone like me word their LinkedIn post?
This is what you’re going to type into Linkedin’s search box to find clients that are looking for someone like you. Here’s an example:
If you’re a freelance website designer, you might search:
- “freelance web designer”
This will turn up anyone who posts to LinkedIn using the term “freelance web designer.” Now, this is also going to turn up stuff you don’t want. So you may want to add some other search terms like: hiring, seeking, needed, email, etc.
Additionally, you can also use LinkedIn’s boolean search parameters to build an even more targeted search. For example:
- “freelance web designer” OR “freelance website designer” OR “RFP website design” NOT “development”
This would expand your results to include the 3 first phrases above but also remove any results that included the term “development.”
Step 2 – Click on ‘Content’ tab to filter the results
By default LinkedIn will show you search results by people, not their posts. To change this click on “More” in the upper navigation and select the “Content” tab.
This will show you posts that people and potential clients are making to their network, which is what you want.
Step 3 – Sort by LATEST results
In the upper right corner you’ll see a “Sort by:” option. Click on that to sort by Latest. By default, LinkedIn will show you what it thinks is most relevant, regardless of post date.
But sorting by Latest will make sure that you’re not seeing clients who were looking for exactly what you do in 2013. Instead, you’ll see the most recent opportunities and stuff that is likely still active.
Step 4 – Review the results
Here are some of the results that I found for the freelance website design niche. First, I’m going to give you one example of a good lead that I would respond to and then an example of a bad lead I would skip.
👍 Good – I would apply, here’s why:
- Links to an RFP (which provides a real budget)
- Organization (Colorado Trust) looks legit and high-quality
- Decision-maker is the one posting on LinkedIn
- Deadline gives enough time to apply
- Great high-value project (website redesign)
👎 Bad – I would not apply, here’s why:
- Outside of the web design niche
- Mentions low-paying website (people per hour)
- Looks like another freelancer, so likely sub-contracting which means unlikely to pay well
- This person is based in a much lower paying country, also indicating a low budget
You want to have a discerning eye when it comes to choosing which opportunities to go after. Getting hired by a bad client can often be worse than not getting hired at all because a bad client can cause stress, headaches, and even cost you a ton of money.
Step 5 – Respond to the good opportunities
If you’ve gotten this far, you’re almost there. But for your hard work to pay off there’s one more thing you have to do: apply.
Before you do, you might want to make sure your LinkedIn profile is complete and optimized following Part 1 above. Since you’re likely to contact the lead directly on LinkedIn, they will almost certainly check out your profile.
The right one depends on the situation. For some opportunities a phone call might even be the right next step. I include a ton of email scripts, and proposal templates for LinkedIn and other places exclusively for subscribers of my newsletter (you can get them when you sign up for free below).
Step 6 – Follow up on LinkedIn
You might be expecting a long, detailed proposal to be what wins you the job, but often it’s something much simpler. Yes, make sure to send in a proposal that has everything requested in the job post or RFP, but also make sure to send a simple Linkedin message letting them know you’ve applied or are planning to apply to the project. Something like this is perfect:
Hi my company is interested in submitting an RFP do you have any more information for me?
It doesn’t seem like much, but because taking the initiative to send this message, opens up a dialogue and allows you to build a much stronger relationship with your leads and clients.
Once you’ve opened up that line of communication via Linkedin, your job’s not done. It’s important to use it. Keep in contact regularly throughout the proposal process and you can end up getting additional insider information like when an RFP due date gets extended, and why they were looking to do the project in the first place. Details that were not included in the initial job post or RFP.
Part 3 – How to Generate Leads on LinkedIn with Paid Tools and Services
One of the last points I wanted to touch on when it comes to generating leads on LinkedIn is paid automation tools and services. I haven’t personally tried many of these, but they seem to work for some people. Here’s a breakdown of some of what I would try first:
Premium comes in two flavors: Careers ($29/month) and Business ($59/month). You get access to a range of features including a Resume Builder and the ability to see who’s viewing your profile. You’re also given access to competitive intelligence about applicants for jobs and the ability display the Premium badge on your profile. Probably the biggest Premium account feature is the ability to get prospect’s emails when you’re not connected with them. The higher priced Premium Business account includes three times the amount of InMail credits (15 per month) which is basically LinkedIn’s own currency used to message other users. You can also browse without restrictions and gain access to business insights that include industry trends. It isn’t necessarily worth the higher price unless you find the features important.
Sales Navigator starts at $79/month. It’s designed to let you create lead lists with advanced search filtering options on LinkedIn’s big data platform. You also get 20 monthly InMail credits to message people. This is more of a cold call sales tool.
This is a somewhat newer account type which has seemingly been rolled into the Premium feature, but I thought it was worth mentioning here because ProFinder matches you to users who request your type of work. You’re able to submit 10 free proposals before committing to a $59 monthly fee.
This lead generation tool helps you find relevant business contacts and emails from LinkedIn, with all the necessary data points required for a personalized message, such as the prospect’s name, location, company details, and phone number. Dux-Soup is another tool in this category.
Lead Cookie teams you up with outbound experts who work to identify your target prospects and write them messages. Before that, they can even go through your LinkedIn profile to show you how you can improve it. Once they’ve linked you up, you can take the conversation from there.
Another automation tool, Salesloop.io stands out by being safe, efficient, and highly effective thanks to its modern, cloud-based web-app. This is one you can “set and forget” with confidence.
Where to Start and What to do first
It can take some time to figure out how to generate leads for your specific company using any strategy. If you’re looking for something more immediate, I recommend checking out my web design leads newsletter if you do web design or development or getting my complete course on lead generation (which goes way more in-depth into LinkedIn than I’m able to on this post.)