Person smiling while working on laptop from home.
With a LinkedIn Services Marketplace page, users can detail the work they do, highlight ratings and reviews from past clients, and leverage mutual connections. — Getty Images/FreshSplash

Why it matters:

  • The pandemic sparked a boom in small business formations, according to The National Bureau of Economic Research, and the heightened interest in entrepreneurship continues.
  • Digital platforms ranging from Facebook to Pinterest to Yelp and now LinkedIn are offering new tools and marketplaces that aim to help entrepreneurs grow.
  • Launched in late 2021, LinkedIn’s Services Marketplace is designed to help entrepreneurs showcase their skills, maximize connections and land new clients.

With over 810 million members in over 200 countries around the world, LinkedIn is a well-established platform for job seekers to network and represent themselves to potential employers online. Now, the company has turned its focus toward the self-employed.

LinkedIn Services Marketplace launched in late 2021, providing freelancers and entrepreneurs with more tools to showcase their skills, maximize connections, and land new clients.

The site comes at a time when more and more individuals are going into business for themselves or are planning to in the future. Indeed, new business formations surged during the pandemic, data from The National Bureau of Economic Research reveals.

According to data from LinkedIn’s 2021 Workforce Confidence Index, 51% of people surveyed said they saw themselves venturing out on their own for their next role.

“With more business being done online and more folks turning to entrepreneurship, it’s only normal that we as a professional platform meet this need,” Matt Faustman, product lead for pages, products, and service with LinkedIn, told CO—.

[Read: Hyper-Local Commerce and Smaller Brands Benefit From Post-Pandemic Consumer Trends]

Hopping on the trend towards fostering entrepreneurship: ‘We’re seeing the power of using LinkedIn as a digital storefront’

The move from LinkedIn is part of a larger, post-pandemic trend that sees seemingly disparate digital platforms, from Groupon and Yelp to Facebook and payment platforms like Klarna and Afterpay, catering to the needs of the small business owner.

For its part, LinkedIn Services Marketplace is focused on service-driven businesses. With a service page, users can detail the work they do and opportunities they are open to; highlight ratings and reviews from past clients; and leverage mutual connections. In addition to messaging and direct service requests, the Service Marketplace also offers business owners a dashboard where they can manage projects and client lists without leaving the platform.

More and more, we are seeing the power of using LinkedIn as a ‘digital storefront,’ making it easy for providers to represent themselves and for buyers to find them. Through Service Marketplace, we’re helping to streamline this journey and surface the need-to-know info.

Matt Faustman, product lead for pages, products, and service, LinkedIn

What’s more, potential clients can message entrepreneurs and business owners for free, without using InMail or LinkedIn’s premium platform by clicking the “request a proposal” button on their service page.

“More and more, we are seeing the power of using LinkedIn as a ‘digital storefront,’” said Faustman, “making it easy for providers to represent themselves and for buyers to find them. Through Service Marketplace, we’re helping to streamline this journey and surface the need-to-know info.”

[Read: Social Commerce and Loyalty Drive Key Marketing Trends]

The return on investment for small businesses

“There’s a strong use-case for creators who own and run their own businesses to benefit from the ability to share and promote those services on LinkedIn,” said Faustman.

LinkedIn started to notice a potential demand for a platform catering to business owners on its site two years ago.

Since March 2020, LinkedIn has seen 3.5 times the growth in people searching and requesting services on LinkedIn, especially in categories such as business and executive coaching, marketing, design, and software development. According to Faustman, the Service Marketplace has already helped nearly three million freelancers and small businesses discover new clients.

“With an engaged community, we’re focused on making it easy for businesses and members to find value in this experience,” he said.

Joyce Guan West, a career coach and early user of the Service Marketplace, found a way to supercharge the networking power of freelancers and entrepreneurs on the site. “I had no idea where my next paycheck was going to come [from] after my last consulting gig ended, and a friend recommended Service Marketplace when I told him I wanted to coach full time,” she told CO—.

“I am now a professional Career Coach and have a six-figure business. I owe much of it to the leads that come from LinkedIn.”

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Published April 27, 2022