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Last week I was looking for a virtual assistant to help me with a new project. In the past, I would have Googled to find someone. But that’s so 2012! This time, I went to LinkedIn, did a search for “virtual assistant” and was greeted with a long list of professionals who offer that service.

That’s a trend I’m seeing these days. More and more clients are using LinkedIn to find the professionals they need.

I can understand why.

When you use LinkedIn to search for a copywriter, designer, leadership trainer or other type of service provider, the top results are people you know (or sort of know) followed by people who know people you know.

There’s a comfort in hiring a professional who’s already in your network, or at least on the periphery.

In addition, I know many people who think LinkedIn profiles provide better, more accurate information on a particular professional than can be found on his or her website. For example, a seminar attendee once told me, “I don’t trust website testimonials anymore. The only testimonials I trust are those I find on LinkedIn.”

At the very least, many potential clients are reviewing your LinkedIn profile in addition to your website to pre-qualify you.

So how do you make sure you’re being found on LinkedIn? Here are a few suggestions:

First, build your connections. You need to be proactive about this. There are probably dozens of other professionals you’re acquainted with who have not connected with you on LinkedIn. Send them an invitation! First level connections show up first in search results. As with Google, you want to be found on the first page of such results as often as possible.

Next, optimize your title. (The text displayed just below your name.) Clients will often search for the kind of professional they’re looking for – “corporate trainer” – or the type of service or solution they need – “leadership skills”. So consider using both in your title. For example:

Corporate Trainer on Executive Leadership, Negotiation, and Decision Making Skills.

Why is the title important? If a search term is found in your title, LinkedIn will highlight it in the search results, making your profile stand out and more likely to be clicked.

But title is just one factor in increasing your “find-ability”. It’s also vital that your entire profile be as complete and up-to-date as possible. LinkedIn uses all that information to generate its search results.

I used to think the Summary section was the most important. It is important. However, a lot of clients are telling me they’re using the Skills & Expertise section more often now to evaluate a professional service provider. I suppose it’s because this section is easy to scan quickly. And recent addition of the Endorsements feature has made this section even more relevant.

Those are a few ideas that will help you get found more often. The bottom line is, LinkedIn is becoming an increasingly important tool for helping clients find the professional services they need. So make sure when they’re looking for someone like you, they find you!