The value of LinkedIn for nonprofits
LinkedIn is comprised of 364 million + professional profiles in more than 200 countries that can be tapped according to interest, specialty, location and background. Nonprofit professionals are now reporting some of the most valuable assets of this social-media tool and how it has directly helped their organization on many levels. This feedback has yielded useful information about several actions you can take on a daily basis via LinkedIn to help empower your nonprofit’s mission.
The first rule of thumb is “be seen and be heard.” Yes, you initially should reach out and connect your profile with as many relevant professionals you directly know. Then you should strive to connect with new people through your own connections. You probably have already pursued these two tasks and have maximized your connections.
The next step is to search through hundreds of profiles and invite those who would be relevant and helpful to the work you do (and vice versa – connections should be mutually beneficial). While this may sound arduous, a gain of more than 500 connections all over the world would be worth the time spent.
To be seen and heard, you need to join almost every LinkedIn group you find relevant to your nonprofit’s mission. And don’t stop there. These groups connect to a large range of people and you have the ability to participate or start group discussions every day.
When the discussion is right, interject and share your nonprofit’s story or issues with your peers. Do this regularly. As you become more seen and heard over time, you will be surprised how many new people invite you to be their connection.
And you’ll be surprised by who else is taking notes in group discussion forums – from potential donors to the media. I recently learned about one nonprofit professional whose post in a LinkedIn discussion forum resulted in her being approached by a national journal to write a guest column. Now she’s building awareness on behalf of herself and her nonprofit with a new audience of thousands.
While LinkedIn offers a search function that can query all groups and members, it also allows users to perform searches for multiple purposes, such as researching donors, finding new board members or locating qualified employees. For example, let’s say you are having a challenging time reaching a decision-maker at a targeted company to discuss sponsorship opportunities.
Through LinkedIn, you learn that your former boss went to high school with this particular decision-maker. Now you have an easy channel between your boss and this important professional. Recently, one nonprofit was able to find an amazing new board member from a LinkedIn search, starting with 8,500 possible candidates and whittling it down to one perfect person, living and working near their office.
Do you have a current job opening in your organization? While you may be receiving numerous resumes from all over the country, most are likely not appropriate. But, the reach within your own LinkedIn network could be more productive.
Recently, LinkedIn has added a professional team to monitor the specific needs of nonprofits through LinkedIn Nonprofit Solutions. Review this resource for other strategies to maximizing the potential of social media.
Kyle-Morris Gregory is the managing director + client marketing strategy for SHOESTRING: the nonprofit’s agency, a full-service marketing agency that serves nonprofits nationwide. Kyle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-888-835-6236.