LinkedIn ProFinder Misses a Major Freelance Concept

by Cathy Miller on September 12, 2016

linkedin-profinder-post-imageDo you know about LinkedIn ProFinder?

Chances are, you may not. For some reason, the networking platform launched the new service with very little fanfare.

Surprising, since at least one LinkedIn expert labels it a game changer. And the way they are rolling out the new service is a bit of a head-scratcher.

What is LinkedIn ProFinder? I’m glad you asked.

LinkedIn ProFinder Launch

In October 2015, LinkedIn initiated a pilot program that would help consumers and businesses find freelance professionals for hire. Sure, there are plenty of sites with freelancer-for-hire platforms. So, why did LinkedIn jump into the mix?

The most telling answer is in their own statistics. In the past five years, the number of freelancers on LinkedIn has grown nearly 50%. 

LinkedIn is finding out what the rest of the world knows. A lot of people are freelancing.

And that’s just the U.S. Who knows what the international numbers are?

Initially, LinkedIn limited the service to certain regions. In August 2016, they expanded ProFinder nationwide.

Currently, the freelance categories LinkedIn offers are those shown below.

linkedin-profinder-categories

Unclear Concept

In my corporate days, I had a coworker who had a favorite saying.

“Someone for whom the concept is not clear.”

I think the quote fits LinkedIn ProFinder – at least in its early stages.

While LinkedIn opened ProFinder nationwide, there is one strange caveat. The match is strictly local.

For example, if the business is in Podunk, America, LinkedIn only sends profiles for freelancers who live in Podunk, America. The same is true on the freelancer’s end. The only Requests for Services that hit the freelancer’s inbox are those from local businesses.

I live in a smaller market. However, my clients are mostly based in the East. I have clients throughout the country; however, none are local.

Thirty-plus years of experience in my niche makes location irrelevant.

I know two very successful freelancers who live in the Caribbean. Can you imagine their careers if they limited their clients to local businesses?

Talent Over Location

I shared my feedback with LinkedIn. I suspect I was not alone as their welcome video adds the disclaimer, We’re keeping ProFinder local for the time being to keep for a fair marketplace.

Wouldn’t you think a fair marketplace is one open to the best talent?

LinkedIn did say to “stay tuned” for any changes. In the meantime, if you are a business owner in search of a qualified freelance professional, the following SlideShare presentation offers you seven tips.

So, what do you think about LinkedIn ProFinder? Are you a small business owner? A freelance professional?
Share your thoughts in Comments. And happy hunting.

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BigStock Photo Credit

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Sharon Hurley Hall September 12, 2016 at 9:22 am

Glad to have your opinion on this service, Cathy. I can’t access the tool yet, but I agree that the local limitation seems strange and unhelpful.

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Cathy Miller September 12, 2016 at 9:42 am

It makes absolutely no sense to me. I wonder if LinkedIn has heard about platforms like Skype (or email, for that matter)? 😉 Thanks, Sharon.
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Sue-Ann September 12, 2016 at 9:58 am

Cathy:

When I started SlideShare, they automatically connected to my LinkedIn profile which I’ve had for a few years BEFORE I started writing and now my first business and writing business are mixed up there. And that’s the thing. See, I’m purposely trying to be a freelance writer, NOT locally, so as not to confuse customers for my established small business! but, thanks to LinkedIn, the confusion is possibly messing up my writing prospects cause now my SlideShare and LInkedIn article shares go to my other company profile.
I feel like I need to do more on LinkedIn for writing contacts but wonder if LinkedIn is already messing me up. I’m probably too time-strapped and computer stupid to figure out untangling this but, admit trying numerous times to no avail. So many people say LinkedIn is great for writing leads but, I seem to be getting more via Twitter, personally. I don’t know but, it’s good to learn more before I get into the wrong marketplace (worse than I already am).
Thanks, Cathy. HAve a super fantastic week.
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Cathy Miller September 12, 2016 at 1:39 pm

That’s the problem, Sue-Ann, with social media platforms. They change all the time and we have little (if any) control. Before LinkedIn bought SlideShare, I actually had a premium account (paid $$ for extra bells & whistles). A lot changed after LinkedIn came in. Do you have two profiles on LinkedIn?

LinkedIn has been my best source for clients and networking. That’s why you should find what works for you and your business. Just because it works for me doesn’t mean it’s right for you. Thanks for stopping by, Sue-Ann, and for your generous sharing. 🙂
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Anne Wayman September 12, 2016 at 10:14 am

Isn’t it amazing when computer types… and Linkedin surely must have a few around (irony intended) don’t get it regarding location? I’m actually about to be in conversation with a web development company who is 40 miles away – he has said telecommuting is fine but seems to think I need to drive there for training… I might, but I’m going to talk with him about screen sharing with freeconferencecall.com

Sigh… or he can drive 40 miles and train me in my office… a web development company!

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Cathy Miller September 12, 2016 at 1:42 pm

I want to say to them, Anne, get in the 21st century. Maybe they’re afraid their computer types will start freelancing if they open it up. 😀
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Lori September 12, 2016 at 12:17 pm

Fairer market? For whom? How very nice and limiting that is! Wonder what employers think of LinkedIn arbitrarily deciding to limit their ads to just the people in their area?

I get a lot of those ProFinder ads. Some are quite local (one is literally a short walk from me). Others are for jobs in DC (three hours away) and New York (two hours away). But nothing beyond that. I think the idea may be that these employers are looking for employees, not freelancers. Still, it would be nice if they opened the search nationally. Who’s to say a candidate wouldn’t move if the job were perfect?

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Cathy Miller September 12, 2016 at 1:43 pm

I know, Lori. That phrase frosted me. What a bunch of junk that is!
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Paula Hendrickson September 12, 2016 at 2:12 pm

Cathy, like you—and most successful freelancers—almost none of my clients are local. I have regular clients on the west coast, the east coast, even in Canada, while I’m in the Midwest.

Every so often I might take an assignment from a local client, but those are through people I already know. In person.
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Cathy Miller September 12, 2016 at 2:17 pm

You are the perfect example, Paula, where your niche has nothing to do with your location. Not only is ProFinder doing a disservice to freelancers, they are doing a disservice to the businesses seeking a freelance professional.

As a business owner, I know I would prefer access to all who meet the skills and experience I need for my project. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Paula.
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ROY A ACKERMAN September 12, 2016 at 2:53 pm

I’m with you, Cathy. My clients are all over the globe- because they want (and deserve) the best advisors they can find anywhere.
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Cathy Miller September 12, 2016 at 3:55 pm

Absolutely, Roy! Thanks for sharing your view. So far, it’s unanimous. 😉
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Yo Prinzel September 13, 2016 at 7:56 am

Especially problematic for those of us who like to limit (read: completely avoid) in-person obligations. This matching system essentially infers that freelancers NEED to live close to you.

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Cathy Miller September 14, 2016 at 6:32 am

And we wonder why businesses use the term “freelancer” when they really mean an employee who can work from home. Or want to dictate hours and meeting times to freelancers. Thanks for sharing your perspective, Yo.
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Marcie September 14, 2016 at 4:29 am

I was totally unaware of this tool, Cathy. Thanks for introducing it to me.

There’s a reason why people became freelancers and the geniuses behind this technology need to read this article and adjust accordingly.
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Cathy Miller September 14, 2016 at 6:34 am

You are most welcome, Marcie. I can’t believe how silent LinkedIn was about this launch. That plus the limitation of keeping it local makes me wonder just how committed they are to it. Thanks for weighing in, Marcie.
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