As it looks to play a key role in connecting users to opportunity in the gradual COVID-19 recovery, LinkedIn is reportedly developing a new freelance marketplace platform which will enable businesses to find, connect with, and pay freelancers all on the platform.
As reported by The Information:
"LinkedIn is developing a new service called Marketplaces to let its 740 million users find and book freelancers, pitting it against publicly traded firms such as Upwork and Fiverr, according to two people with direct knowledge of the matter."
The process would also include the development of a digital wallet, which would facilitate payments on the platform. That could also play a role in LinkedIn's expanded plans to incentivize content creators to keep posting on the platform.
The new freelance service could signifcantly expand LinkedIn's utility, and further embed it as a key platform for HR operations - if it can get it right.
This is not LinkedIn's first effort to provide connection tools for freelance and gig workers.
LinkedIn already has its 'ProFinder' freelance connection tool, which enables anyone to search for relevant freelancers by topic, and connect with them for projects.
Users can have their profile show up for relevant offers by activating the Showcase services feature on their LinkedIn profile, which then ensures they'll be displayed for relevant queries.
The new proposal looks to take this a step further, by actually facilitating connection and deals on the platform.
That could open up a range of new opportunities. One of the elements of the rising WFH shift is that businesses can now employ people from anywhere, they're no longer restricted by locality. And if geography isn't a limitation, then you can choose from a much broader pool of freelance talent, which could see more businesses looking to contract workers for more purposes.
If LinkedIn can tap into this, and provide more direct connection options, that could be a big winner for the platform, while also expanding opportunity for the app's hundreds of millions of users.
It could also boost engagement, and add more advertising opportunities, by giving freelancers means to pay to promote their services on the marketplace. There's a range of benefits here, and while it would be a big undertaking for LinkedIn to challenge the established players in the market, if it can ensure that it provides quality, tested freelancers (maybe via its 'Skill Assessments', which it launched back in 2019), it could further centralize HR processes, and make LinkedIn a more essential business platform.