LinkedIn is a place to create a strong professional brand by promoting your services, displaying expertise, and building connections. As a self-employed professional, having a great LinkedIn profile is key to standing out and being discovered by new potential clients. Though many of us are stuck working from home, social media sites such as LinkedIn have made it possible to continue boosting awareness of your independent business virtually.
With the consecutive lockdowns and travel restrictions, it is apparent that COVID-19 has transformed the way in which we seek out and discover new job opportunities. This is no exception here at Riverflex. As part of Riverflex’s Talent Team, we have relied on LinkedIn as a means to source for outstanding consultants to work on a number of different projects during the pandemic. To be exact, since the start of COVID-19, our Talent Team alone spends roughly 40+ hours a week searching for freelance consultants to join our projects.
As an independent consultant during this time, the goal of creating a “stand-out” LinkedIn profile may be for a variety of different reasons. Whether you utilize your LinkedIn profile to hunt for your next project, build a reputation for yourself, or brand your own independent consulting firm, ask yourself: “What am I trying to accomplish on LinkedIn?”. By understanding what goals you’d like to achieve with your LinkedIn, and who your target audience is, you can create a profile with that much more purpose.
While it seems that virtual recruiting is here to stay, here are some of the 5 essential tips for creating an exceptional LinkedIn profile as an independent consultant which is sure to get you recognised by both recruiters and potential clients. Drawing upon examples from our own Riverflex team, these tips include creating a compelling Headline and Summary, ensuring visibility on your contact info/availability, developing a story from your work experience, showcasing your skills and endorsements, and having a LinkedIn presence.
Creating a compelling headline and summary: who you are, what you do, and why?
Your headline is the line of text that appears right below your name. It’s also what drives search engine optimisation and what will show up on Google search results, so it’s important to put some thought into it.
The primary purpose of your headline is to get the target audience to want to find out. Therefore, if you’re an independent consultant, your headline needs to be client-facing and describe how what you do helps your clients. Create a headline that summarises who you are, who you serve, the problems you solve, and/or the value you bring.
Rather than simply stating your current job title, start with an adjective first followed by your title. Here are some example adjectives you can utilise:
See Johan Maessen’s Headline for inspiration!
Including an About or Summary section on your LinkedIn profile also gives you the chance to explain more about what you do and why. Here, you can write short paragraphs about what you do, the services that you offer, and what types of projects you are looking for in the future.
Within this section, an elevator pitch can be utilised as means to introduce yourself to the reader and to summarise in a few short sentences who you are and what’s in it for them.
Here is an outline you can use to create your own elevator pitch:
I help individuals/organisations/___ transform/implement/discover ___ so that they can achieve ___.
I am available for/looking forward to/exploring opportunities in/___ (desired role, type of position, industry) so that I can ___ (type of pain or problems you solve or how you will contribute).
In addition to creating a captivating elevator pitch within your About section, you may also want to include some of your particular specialties. Here is a list of some specialties to choose from within the realm of consulting that may give your reader a better understanding of the work you do:
- Digital Transformation
- Pricing Strategy
- Digital Strategy
- Change Management
- Marketing and sales
- IT Transformation
- Project Management
- Program Management
See Allan Raffles’ About section for how to write a compelling About section!
Contact info / availability: ensuring visibility for better access
When you’re self-employed, you want to make it easy for people to find out more and to contact you. Therefore, it is important that your contact info is as complete as possible. This is especially relevant as an independent consultant, where adding your phone number, email address, or website link on your LinkedIn profile makes it that much easier for recruiters and potential clients to contact you.
If you are looking for new projects or you know when your present contract will end, make sure to communicate it via your LinkedIn profile. Specify that you are available and what type of project you are looking for. This can be done in your Headline, the About section, or your resume. Examples of common ways to demonstrate availability may include: “Looking for new opportunities/Open for work/Available.”
Don’t make the mistake your competitors are probably making – not taking the time to indicate where they are currently located. A recruiter is likely to begin their search with a job title followed by a specific location, making your chances of being found even more probable when you indicate where you are currently located on your LinkedIn profile. That said, if you are open to relocating in the future or you are only looking for remote work during this time, be sure to indicate that somewhere in your profile!
*Recruiter tip* I also recommend creating a custom URL for your LinkedIn profile, for example www.linkedin.com/in/oliviakjellsten (last name) or www.linkedin.com/in/digitaltransformation (area of expertise). To personalise your URL for your profile, go to the far-right section under “Edit public profile & URL.”
Work experience: telling your career story
The Experience section on your LinkedIn profile gives you the opportunity to explain your career path and highlight some of your background, qualifications, abilities, and successes. As an independent professional, this section may look different from a traditional employee’s profile where they list their past and current roles.
Rather than listing the deliverables you had for each role or project, the Experience section can be utilised as means to showcase specific examples of how you assisted, tangible results, and the overall impact that you made. Whenever it’s possible, try and upload media context such as PowerPoint presentations, videos, or links to websites to further showcase the work you’ve done within a specific project or role. (See Stafanie Knoren’s Experience section for how to do that).
If you have an impressive client list, it’s recommended that you not only list the job roles you’ve had in the Experience section, but also the short-term projects you may have worked on. You can do so by listing the project with your role followed by “Consultant” or “Independent” so readers understand your role and employment relationship.
Showcasing your skills & endorsements
Listing skills on your LinkedIn profile is a simple way to help readers understand some of your strengths and skillsets. These skills should reflect your expertise, specialties, competencies or abilities that you possess. Try to keep your skills less generic and more specific. Here are some examples of specific skills versus generic skills:
- Change Management
- Business Transformation
- Cloud Computing
- Business-to-Business (B2B)
Once you have skills listed on your profile, LinkedIn allows people to endorse you for those skills. Endorsements can be given out by your first-degree connections, or, more simply put, people you have worked closely with who may further confirm that you have these skillsets. Overall, having endorsements for certain skills builds up validity and credibility on your profile, and therefore, can be considered a necessity to have!
Have a LinkedIn Presence
Lastly, don’t forget to stay engaged and have a presence on LinkedIn. After spending the time and effort to create a strong LinkedIn profile, it is important you utilise it to your advantage. Post and share content that is relevant to your industry or interesting to you personally. Discuss relevant developments within your industry, share interesting articles with your network, or pose questions to your network. Join relevant groups, maintain a visible presence, and continue to grow your network and connect with others. The more effort you put in to developing a strong LinkedIn presence the more it will pay off in the long run!
Now that you’ve read through these 5 essential tips for creating an exceptional LinkedIn profile as an independent consultant, who would you want to hire for your next consulting job?