While many of us are waiting with bated breath to see what more significant changes (if any) stem from LinkedIn’s acquisition by Microsoft, the site continues to add new features and make little adjustments, day and day out. Every time you turn around, it seems like the site has made some sort of addition or change.
For example, I recently checked out the site’s new “Chase Great” feature here that I heard about, thinking it must be something bold and amazing given the name assigned to it. Alas, when you click on the tantalizing “tell your own story” or “reach out” or “always keep learning” buttons, you’ll find yourself re-routed to all the same old features LinkedIn has always had. The whole page is really just a glitzy teaser screen as opposed to anything of real substance, aside from a few random videos featuring very diverse-looking people who apparently have accomplished amazing things in their lives. So click on a few of those links if you’re a masochist (ha ha) and want to reinforce that you’re a chronic underachiever who needs to do more with your life. That’s always my own impression when I see these kinds of things, at least, and there’s even actual science explaining how social media tends to negatively impact one’s self esteem.
While the above new item was underwhelming, however, that’s not so the case with another major new feature that LinkedIn has rolled out recently — a new project-matching portal for freelancers called ProFinder. Seen this new offering yet? If not, you can read more about it in the Forbes Magazine article you’ll find here and access it by clicking the “Freelance Marketplace” option on the “Interests” menu at the top of any LinkedIn page. Long story short, LinkedIn is jumping into the booming world of project-based work and has created this new platform for helping match professional service providers (e.g. accountants, graphic designers, attorneys, copywriters, and yes, career coaches) with potential customers who need them.
For those paying close attention, LinkedIn actually used to have a similar feature many years back called their “Service Providers” directory, but ended up ditching it. Looks like they’ve rethought this decision, however, and this new portal is obviously a lot slicker and more sophisticated than the previous model.
At any rate, it will be interesting to see the impact of this new tool and whether it really takes off — especially given the exploding number of sites like Handy.com, Fiverr.com, TaskRabbit.com, Guru.com, and the like that are already going after this market in a big way. And yet, while the competition is fierce, I wouldn’t bet against LinkedIn hitting a home run with this feature given the massive muscle they sport in terms of their 420+ million profiles and how they can effectively leverage this data toward this new purpose. After all, with researchers predicting that a full half of the U.S. working population will be participating in the “gig economy” within the next five years, the companies that emerge triumphantly as the top brokers of freelance talent will be in a serious position to cash in.
So we’ll see how this new offering unfolds — and just for kicks, I threw my own hat in the ring and signed up as a freelancer for the “career coaching” and “resume writing” categories just to see what happens and learn more about how the whole process works. I’ll share some further thoughts on my experience with the tool, down the road, and obviously am open to any feedback any of you might have to offer in terms of the application — and whether you find it useful from either a “buyer” or “seller” standpoint.