Freelancing in all areas of the economy continues to become more popular, and the employment social network LinkedIn is taking notice and offering new tools to freelancers and their client in select markets like Los Angeles.

This week LinkedIn has launched a trial, pilot program called LinkedIn Profinder in Los Angeles, San Francisco. The program is set to launch in New York this coming December. LinkedIn Profinder helps businesses connect with professional freelancers based on skill sets, deadlines and budget. Once a job is posted, freelancers can respond with proposals. LinkedIn Profinder is open to freelancers in four broad fields and, at least to begin with, is free for both businesses and employees.

LinkedIn Profinder connects freelancers in the areas of writing and editing, marketing, graphic design and accounting with businesses that need quick turnaround at an affordable price. The trial program officially launched on Thursday, February 4, and covers both businesses and freelancers located in Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

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The launch of Profinder positions LinkedIn to compete with such freelancing heavyweights such as TaskRabbit, Freelancer, Upwork and Gigfinder, which have so far monopolized the ever-increasing freelancing marketplace.

Vaibhav Goel, the group manager for the LinkedIn Profinder project, said in a statement that the platform is already attracting a lot of job proposals from businesses and bids from freelancers in the Los Angeles area. LinkedIn has more than 400 million members worldwide, which it hopes to leverage to overcome its already established competition.

Goel says that LinkedIn Profinder will help freelancers create a brand for themselves and help businesses find qualified professionals to help with projects on an as-needed basis. Currently there are about 15 million freelance workers, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. A study by Intuit estimates that the number of freelancers will increase to 60 million by as soon as 2020. Whether or not Intuit’s prediction is optimistic or undershooting, LinkedIn is positioning itself to take advantage of an assured increase in the number of freelancing employees in the United States.

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The next decade is set to bring a world of talent within the reach of small businesses, according to Intuit. Driving the next wave of freelancers will be Generation Y, which is more accustomed to working digitally than its predecessors. LinkedIn Profinder also targets another key trend in world demographics: a continuing shift from rural to urban environments. According to Inuit’s prediction, about 60 percent of the world’s population will live in urban cities by 2020. LinkedIn Profinder targets this urbanized population directly, giving freelancers and businesses alike that they are working with professionals who are both local and global.

Despite the “work anywhere” philosophy of freelancing, Intuit predicts that the digital economy will actually encourage more businesses and professionals to search for work close to home, even though they work online, which puts LinkedIn Profinder in a good position to capture the “think global, act local” crowd.

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