Every year I hear someone ask: Is LinkedIn still relevant?
It’s a good question. With so many other social media sites that have overlapping functions, is LinkedIn worth your time?
For freelancers in particular, the answer is yes, albeit for a surprising reason. In 2015, LinkedIn made a strategic move and bought one of my favorite websites, Lynda.com. Now, a few years later, the combination of both sites helps bring in more work for their users.
For the uninitiated, Lynda.com was a software training website of the highest caliber. It’s the cream of the crop, the ultimate digital nomad skillset database, organized and delivered to your brain in such a way that only a fiber optic Matrix-style connection into your cerebrum could be more efficient.
After LinkedIn’s purchase, the name has changed to LinkedIn Learning, but that all-important content has stayed the same.
What’s On Offer?
Graphic design courses? Absolutely.
Photography courses? Weeks’ worth.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) courses? S.E. Obviously.
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And that’s just the beginning. There are also courses on marketing, business, music, CAD, IT, and more, with dozens of new courses per week and over 15,000 in total.
As a freelancer and entrepreneur, I’ve found these courses to be an indispensable asset. They help me stay up to date on the latest software and techniques without having to sit in a physical classroom, and let me get the job done faster and better.
So that’s all good, but why did LinkedIn, a social media site for professionals, buy it?
Basically, to encourage users to log their skills within LinkedIn, and create a better database for showing relevant results to potential employers.
For example, suppose a company is looking for a graphic designer who knows Illustrator. A LinkedIn profile search often used to yield results that were too broad. Some designers spend all their time in Photoshop, for instance, which is no use for an Illustrator-based role. Now, with LinkedIn Learning certifications, it’s easier to find the right candidate.
So, if you skill up using LinkedIn Learning and include the certificate in your LinkedIn account, you’ll start appearing in more search results. This can lead to more work.
Here’s how to do it.
First up, you’ll need to sign up for LinkedIn Learning. You have two options.
Paid: The site offers a free 30-day trial, but it’s $29.99/month after that. If you want ongoing access, you’ll save money with an annual subscription that works out at $19.99/month instead.
Free: Another option is to see if your local library offers a free LinkedIn Learning membership. The Los Angeles Public Library does, as does my local library in Minnesota. It feels kind of like being given a full-ride scholarship to the best digital nomad university on the planet.
Now you’re signed up, you can pick a path, or just start watching courses. Paths are preplanned sequences of courses for you to follow.
For example, the “Become a Graphic Designer” path contains 11 courses, with 22 hours of content. Follow this path, and you’ll have learned the basics of design, typography, color, and how to use the most common graphic design software.
There are also paths for “Publish an eBook,” “Become a Programmer,” “Become an Online Instructor,” “Become a Video Editor,” and many, many others.
Browse LinkedIn Learning’s library to find the path or course that’s right for you.
After you complete a course on LinkedIn Learning, you have the option to share the certificate on your LinkedIn profile. While the certificate doesn’t prove you’ve mastered the material, it does show you’re invested in improving your craft.
You’ll have a competitive edge by staying up-to-date with the latest software and techniques in your field. By using the knowledge you gain from LinkedIn Learning to boost your portfolio, you’ll have something to show off to potential employers.
Make sure you fill out every section of your LinkedIn profile, especially the “Career Interests” section. This is where you can show hirers what kind of jobs you’re available for, and lets you see a customized feed of job openings matching your interests and expertise.
The more information you give LinkedIn about your skills and experience, the easier it is for it to match you up with the right gigs.
Does It Actually Lead to More Jobs?
LinkedIn claims that members with LinkedIn Learning certificates receive 3.5x more inbound career opportunities. I’m not actively looking for work, but I have noticed a trend of showing up more often in LinkedIn searches as I accumulate more certifications.
As an aside, an appealing candidate for potential employers requires the right combination of skills and experience. LinkedIn can be a big help when it comes to marketing, but you need to make sure you’ve got an impressive way to showcase your best work as well.
While you can post a video and documents to your LinkedIn profile, it’ll look even better if you have your own portfolio site to reference as well. Every freelancer should have one.
Being a freelancer can be difficult. It requires a myriad of skills to get noticed and make a decent living. LinkedIn Learning can play an important role in not only honing your craft, but putting you in front of potential employers.
Now get out there and skill up! Being able to tell your friends back home you’re busy editing videos in Mexico while it’s 85ºF in December is worth it. Trust me.
Have you used LinkedIn Learning before? What was your experience? I love to hear from you in the comments.
Main image via Jacqueline Kelly, screenshots from linkedin.com