LinkedIn is gearing up to match real estate agents with consumers, possibly providing an additional incentive for agents to beef up their LinkedIn profiles. LinkedIn, which claims more than 400 million members worldwide, recently rolled out a tool that lets users post jobs to receive proposals from up to five professionals. LinkedIn began piloting “ProFinder” in San Francisco with jobs in three categories: accounting, graphic design and writing and editing, The San Francisco Chronicle reported in mid-October.

  • LinkedIn's ProFinder, which currently only covers San Francisco, is set to match consumers with agents.
  • Agents can sign up for the ProFinder network now.
  • ProFinder generates up to five proposals from professionals for consumers or employers.

Fred Glick received a call from LinkedIn representative about three months ago.

Would Glick be interested in joining a referral network that LinkedIn was rolling out in the San Francisco Bay Area?

Glick, who owns the cloud-based California brokerage Arrivva, said he was.

The network Glick was invited to join could underpin the potential agent-matching component of ProFinder, a referral platform that LinkedIn is rolling out in the San Francisco Bay Area. The tool lets users post jobs to receive proposals from up to five professionals. LinkedIn began testing ProFinder with jobs in three categories: accounting, graphic design and writing and editing, The San Francisco Chronicle reported in mid-October.

But ProFinder is scheduled to expand to cover additional markets and business verticals. “We are exploring potential verticals for expansion, but cannot, at this time, confirm anything beyond the fact that real estate is among the short list of those we’re considering,” said a LinkedIn spokesperson via email.

LinkedIn told The San Francisco Chronicle it didn’t plan to charge professionals for leads from ProFinder.

If it expands into real estate, the tool may provide an additional incentive for agents to beef up their LinkedIn profiles with recommendations and endorsements and post content on the social network.

Glick thinks he received the invitation to join the ProFinder network because of his posts on LinkedIn.

Users can type “real estate agent” into ProFinder to pull up a page featuring agents “hand-selected by the ProFinder concierge team” that appears to order agents based on the number of connections they share with a user and their number of recommendations and skill endorsements.

The page seems to offer a hint of how LinkedIn could ultimately pair consumers who use ProFinder with agents.

Screen shot showing top two results for search of 'real estate agent' by Teke Wiggin on ProFinder's home page.

Screen shot showing top two results for search of ‘real estate agent’ by Teke Wiggin on ProFinder’s home page.

Upon clicking “get proposals” on the page showing the list of agents, users are told the service is “slowly expanding” and are invited to enter their email addresses to be notified when ProFinder is available for hiring agents.

ProFinder offers a service similar to some other agent-matching tools, such as UpNest, that let users request proposals with bids from agents.

ProFinder users must answer some questions about the service they are seeking in order to receive up five offers from professionals. Each offer includes a “personalized message, price quote, and access to the pro’s LinkedIn profile.”

Users can then select a professional based on the proposals or contact ProFinder’s concierge team for additional help.

Judging by the rankings page of agents shown to a LinkedIn user who searches agents on ProFinder’s main page, agents who have accumulated a large number of connections and endorsements and recommendations on the site seem likely to stand the best shot at receiving business through the referral tool.

ProFinder’s page for professionals says that “recommendations are essential” and advises professionals to make sure they have “relevant recommendations” to attract more leads. A great recommendation “clearly defines your role on a project, references the skills used and includes a date,” the page says.

Each expert part of ProFinder’s network is reportedly “hand selected” by the service’s concierge team. Glick was offered the option to contact a two-person concierge team assigned to him if he had any questions.

Professionals can click to sign up for the ProFinder network at the bottom of the tool’s main page.

UpNest has shown that a proposal-based agent-matching service can catch on. The startup has said that it’s generated nearly 100,000 customized proposals for consumers since launching in 2013. Though part of the original idea of the platform was to spur agents to compete on price, UpNest has found that consumers often end up hiring “full-commission” agents over those quoting lower rates.

Email Teke Wiggin.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with new information from LinkedIn.

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