LinkedIn rolls out ProFinder as a one-stop shop to match customers with freelance professionals.

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With Seattle’s thriving contractor culture, it’s no surprise that LinkedIn ranks us as No. 8 among U.S. cities with the highest freelancer population.

If you’re like me, drumming up freelance work can be a challenge. And when you do rustle up some new clients, how can you be sure that they will be easy to work with and pay on time?

LinkedIn recently rolled out ProFinder, a service that pairs individuals and small businesses with freelance professionals. What Thumbtack is to home and service projects, ProFinder aims to be to white-collar projects. Whether you’re a solo entrepreneur looking for a web designer or an executive looking for a public speaking coach, ProFinder can hook you up.

Becoming a ProFinder Pro

While the service is currently free for freelancers, you need to apply. A team at LinkedIn reviews your application and profile to see if you are a good fit for the vertical you’re supplying.

Your LinkedIn profile needs to be robust and on point. “Recommendations make a huge impact and are a way to build trust. Profile completion is also key — thoroughly review your summary, work experience and skill set to make sure they map to what you’re trying to sell,” says Gyanda Sachdeva, LinkedIn’s director of product management.

And don’t discount the impact of publishing posts on your profile. For example, a real estate agent who writes about trends in the neighborhoods they serve is going to get more requests for proposals (RFPs).

Once approved, LinkedIn’s concierge team will automatically provide suggestions as to how you can best optimize your profile. Then you’re ready to roll.

 Jennifer Worick, columnist for The Seattle Times Jobs
Jennifer Worick, columnist for The Seattle Times Jobs

When a customer submits an RFP, LinkedIn acts as matchmaker, picking the five most compatible pros. The process is quick. The five pros generally respond within a few hours, LinkedIn says. “The quality is very high because the pros are being vetted. When a customer gets a response from an interested pro, they are often surprised by the quality and timeliness,” Sachdeva says.

What sounds cool from a freelancer’s perspective is that once you’re in, LinkedIn does the work for you. But that doesn’t necessarily mean work will immediately start dropping in your lap. Your profile could be the shiniest, juiciest apple on the tree, but there still has to be someone out there who needs to make cider.

The power of common connections

What may set ProFinder apart from other online freelance marketplaces is that it’s powered by LinkedIn’s vast member network. A customer can view a pro’s full profile, including work history and references that are all tied back to other LinkedIn members. “What this means is that references and reviews come from verified sources, and there’s inherent quality in that,” Sachdeva says. “Having common connections with the clients is very powerful because it immediately builds trust for both parties.”

ProFinder’s pilot rolled out in San Francisco and New York in late 2015, and it’s currently available nationwide in more than 140 service areas. LinkedIn says that more than 40,000 professionals are on the platform.

Jennifer Worick is a veteran freelancer/contractor, publishing consultant and New York Times bestselling author. Email her at jen@jenniferworick.com.