LinkedIn wants to hear your small business story. The professional platform, which is usually courting job seekers and recruiters, is reaching out to a new audience: small businesses.
What’s the company’s first move? Host a short essay contest asking business owners and employees to talk about the impact of their business.
Ready to apply? Here’s what you need to know:
The story behind the contest
The contest comes on the heels of launching a new tool called LinkedIn ProFinder, which gives small businesses and consumers a platform to find freelancers for project-based work.
The number of freelancers on LinkedIn has grown by 50 percent in the last five years. LinkedIn says ProFinder is the company’s way of ensuring that their platform “offers the same value for independent workers as it does for traditional 9-5 professionals.”
LinkedIn is making a clear statement that the site isn’t just a resume-viewing spot, it’s a place where business can get done. The site has made big strides in the last few years to move beyond a job-seeking portal.
LinkedIn now offers a blog-like publishing tool where businesses can write and post articles, a “save” features that allows users to file content away for later, and a search bar that helps users find the content they want.
The LinkedIn ProFinder is the newest tool that differentiates the site, making it more of a business site than a resume site.
The essay details
To enter the LinkedIn ProFinder Small Business Contest, you must submit a 250-500-word essay by November 30 that answers these questions:
- Describe your business. What impact has it had on you, your customers and/or your community?
- How would you leverage LinkedIn and LinkedIn ProFinder to maximize the impact of your business?
The questions are fairly broad, but you can take some creative freedom and interpret the questions as you see fit. The contest page says you can write about the inspiration for starting a business, how you got the idea off the ground or lessons learned along the way.
The contest isn’t just for business owners, employees can write an essay too. Each business can submit up to three essays, but each one must be an original response.
To show how serious LinkedIn is about getting submissions, the professional site is giving away three cash prizes. The top prize is $5,000. Second place gets $3,000, and third place gets $2,000. The top three winners will also be featured on the ProFinder blog.
Plus, up to 10,000 small business owners are eligible for a three-month premium subscription.
The submission details
In addition to submitting an essay, you also have to complete an application and post your essay on your personal or company blog.
Business owners are also encouraged to promote their essay on social media using the hashtag #ProFinderContest.
Applications must be submitted through the ProFinder Small Business Contest Entry Form.
There are some criteria you have to meet to enter. Check out the eligibility requirements:
- You must be at least 18 years old and live in the U.S.
- You must be a small business owner or employee at a company with 25 employees or fewer.
- Anyone that works for LinkedIn or its affiliates can’t participate.
To help you find inspiration to write your own story, consider checking out what others are doing. By searching the hashtag #ProFinderContest on social media sites you can read story’s from other business owners.
Here’s a look at a few early submissions that are promoted on social media:
- The owner of Connective Impact, a company that connects organizations that are trying to make the planet a more sustainable place, shares her journey with this unique business idea.
- Personal Branding Consultant Belinda Johnson Bernhard talks about her inspiration to leave the corporate world and start her own business.
- Sacred Circle Recycling wrote about its endeavor to clean up plastic that’s polluting waterways, and how LinkedIn helps the business find contacts to help in the effort.
In doing these searches, you won’t just find inspiration, but maybe you’ll find a like-minded business owner that you want to connect with.
Will you participate in the contest? If so, what focus will your essay take? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.