Career Coach: How to use LinkedIn to your best advantage

September 16, 2012

Career Coach Joyce E.A. Russell discussed LinkedIn and finding freelance work during a recent online chat. Here are some excerpts:

Finding freelance work

Q:I absolutely love my job and how close it is to home. What I do not love is the pay, which is abysmal. However, it would be extremely hard to find another full-time job that I like so much and is so near to home, so I’ve decided to try to supplement my pay by taking on freelance work. Do you have any resources that could help me connect with the people offering freelance positions and the best way to apply to them? I’m specifically interested in writing and editing, and I am a member of LinkedIn, although I’m not very active on the site.

Joyce E.A. Russell: I think you are taking all the right first steps. You should not worry about reaching out to people. You can tell them exactly what you told me. You want to do additional work and really enjoy writing, etc. I would definitely use your professional contacts via in person contacts (let your friends and family know you are willing to take on additional writing projects), and use your LinkedIn contacts (but you will need to be more active). Most people today will be able to totally understand where you are coming from (given the market and pay rates, etc). Also, are there opportunities at your current job where people there might need additional work or projects that you can do?

A primer on LinkedIn

Q: All of your advice keeps mentioning LinkedIn. What exactly do you suggest doing once a person you want to network with is a contact?

Russell: Some people use LinkedIn to connect to people by joining groups such as alumni groups or professional colleagues. Basically, you are building a connection with a variety of people either in your professional field or just people who went to similar schools or have similar professional interests. Others I know use LinkedIn to find people to learn more about their work backgrounds. So, there are plenty of different professional uses for it.

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