Last Fall, LinkedIn launched a pilot program in an effort to help connect members with independent contractors and freelancers. The company has been pleased with the program’s progress, and today LinkedIn is opening up its latest product — LinkedIn ProFinder — to everyone in the U.S. Through this marketplace, consumers and businesses are connected with those offering professional services such as design, writing and editing, accounting, real estate, and career coaching.
According to a study commissioned by the Freelancers Union and Upwork, nearly 54 million Americans were doing freelance work in 2015. On LinkedIn, there’s also an increasing number of these professionals — a nearly 50 percent increase over the past five years. Rather than let this opportunity slip away, LinkedIn ProFinder plays matchmaker, pairing you with qualified professionals in an experience that’s been described as “Thumbtack for white collar professionals.”
To hire a freelancer, search for the service you need — you can select from among 140 areas. Then fill in details about your specific needs, including location, timeframe, budget, and job requirements. You’ll receive up to five offers from freelancers with a message, price quote, and a link to their LinkedIn profile.
“ProFinder is built on top of LinkedIn’s network in order to be network-driven,” the company explained to VentureBeat. “As a consumer, when you submit a project request, we send it to professionals in your network or extended network first. You’ll also see common connections between you and the pro — something you can only get on LinkedIn.”
Some services force you to rely on reviews and ratings, but LinkedIn believes its social network and the technology behind its economic graph offer up a better measure of trustworthiness. The company is positioning ProFinder — powered by its 450 million members — as an important element in driving business to freelancers.
In honor of this wider release, LinkedIn’s data science team examined the current state of freelancers. The research indicates that Florida and Texas are among the states seeing the most growth in this type of workforce, but the East Coast and West Coast ranked as the places with the highest freelance population overall.
The new freelance marketplace gives members a dedicated place to hire subject experts, instead of parsing through millions of listings to find the right candidates. It could also help attract more independent contractors to the social network, some of whom may even have used LinkedIn’s Lynda.com product to improve their capabilities. With this move, LinkedIn appears to be interested in further scaling its offerings beyond the traditional 9 to 5 workforce.
LinkedIn ProFinder is currently only available in the U.S., but it’s likely to expand overseas in the near future.