I have nothing against individual freelancers in any profession, but the freelancer market is flooded with individuals who misrepresent their skill level and who are unresponsive. This is especially true in the digital marketing space. It seems that LinkedIn doesn't understand this, and prefers users to work with freelancers over professionals.

A week ago I received an invite for the ProFinder beta. According to the invite, this is the way it works:

"Through LinkedInProFinder, potential clients looking for marketers will request services they need. We'll send the relevant requests to you, and you can choose to respond with a lightweight proposal. Best of all, participation in the pilot is totally free."

Suffice it to say, I was excited. I like LinkedIn...a lot. I do a tremendous amount of B2B digital marketing and felt that this could help our team connect with more companies looking for help with their digital marketing and help our existing client's with their digital marketing strategies. So, I applied for the ProFinder beta. A day later, I received the following email explaining my application for the beta had been declined.

"Hello Nick,

Thank you so much for your interest in participating in the pilot program for our new service provider marketplace, LinkedInProFinder.

This new marketplace is for service providers who are either full-time freelancers or do freelance work on the side. We reviewed each profile from the perspective of a potential client and didn't feel like it was clear that you do freelance work. If you're a freelance or independent professional, we would love to include you in the pilot program and would be happy to help you with your profile so that this is clearly highlighted for potential clients.

If you're a freelance or independent professional, I'd be happy to help you with your profile so that this is clearly highlighted for potential clients to see.

Here are some tips on demonstrating that you're an independent professional:

  • Use words like "freelance", "consultant", or other terms that highlight your freelance status in your headline
  • In your summary and work experience sections, describe your services and the types of clients you serve
  • Have strong recommendations from previous clients

Learn more about enhancing your LinkedIn profile to set you up for success withProFinder: link

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to let me know. I'm here to help!

Kind regards,

Jonathan Ellison
LinkedInProFinderConsultant"

In other words, the world's largest professional network doesn't want to help professionals connect. Instead, they want to help people doing "work on the side".

Wow.

Perhaps freelance marketers are better suited to be monetized by LinkedIn, but it seems antithetical to the purpose of the network.

Once again, I am not against freelancers. However, the very nature of their position does not promote quality. In most cases, if a person is doing work on the side for extra cash, it is not their primary profession. They might be good at what they do, but there's a good chance they aren't. There are no checks and balances for freelance marketers, and there are many ways of cutting corners in the digital marketing world. Unlike professional digital marketers, freelancers don't have access to the kinds of professional training, support, and education opportunities offered by larger organizations, and are therefore far less likely to be as good as a professional in their field.

The fact that LinkedIn is promoting a market that is more prone to be unprofessional is very upsetting. LinkedIn may be able to use the profile information to screen out freelance digital marketers who use spammy practices, but you can be sure that many spammers will find a way around this kind of screening process in no time.