The global launch of LinkedIn’s new “Open for Business” feature took place just a few days ago in Dubai. While it’s been around in the US since the summer, with around 50,000 members opting in, this is a great step forward for businesses across the rest of the world, including the UK and it is free :)
The aim is to help small businesses and freelance workers make connections with new clients.
“Open for Business” lets freelancers and small business owners include their services in their profiles, to make it easier for people to search for specific services and find them on LinkedIn.
And the new feature also means that LinkedIn members can now filter their searches for service providers.
What it’s trying to replicate is the old-fashioned (but invaluable) word of mouth method of finding someone to fulfil a need, so the feature makes it easier for LinkedIn members to find, message and recommend each other.
This is great news for start ups, small businesses, and anyone who operates in a freelance capacity. To see LinkedIn actively supporting small business leaders and freelancers – including the five million self-employed people in the UK – is fantastic.
I can also see it being invaluable to anyone who is starting a business and in the process of growing their client base. It just makes the digitised version of word of mouth so much easier.
So how does it work?
To turn on the “Open for Business” feature:
- Go to your profile page and you will see the option to “Showcase services you offer as a freelancer or small business owner”.
- Click on “Get started” and fill in the form asking about the services you provide in as much detail as possible.
- When you click on “Continue” this information will be added to your profile.
- You will then be prompted to share that you’ve enabled this feature with your network.
If you’re a LinkedIn member searching for particular services, you will now be able to see in your search results the services provided by other members.
From that point you can message them directly, at no cost, to find out more.
You will be able to see which service providers are most suitable, as well as ask your network to make recommendations.
Anyone can use the “Open for Business” feature, whether you are looking to support small businesses and freelancers by seeking them out, or you come into that category yourself.
As LinkedIn’s co-founder Allen Blue said at the launch, “Small businesses and freelancers play a critical role in the growth and future of our global economy,” so it is great to see them being supported in this free way.
Anything that champions entrepreneurs, start ups, small business owners and freelancers is surely a win-win…so next time you’re logged in to LinkedIn don’t forget to enable it and use it yourself when sourcing services or looking for new business opportunities.
Written by Alex Mitchel, Head of the IoD Founder Community