July 14, 2011

Nonprofit strategies for getting more out of LinkedIn

Smart ways to tap into the fast-growing business network

Target audience: Nonprofits, NGOs, foundations, cause organizations, companies, brands, start-ups, citizen publications. This is part two of a series on how nonprofits, businesses and other organizations can take advantage of LinkedIn. Also see part one:

Highlights of LinkedIn’s new program for nonprofits

Debra AskanaseLast month I presented a webinar to the Darim Online community about how to use LinkedIn for Nonprofits. The program is so new — it just launched on May 9 — that most nonprofits don’t even know it exists.

When I was preparing for the webinar, two things struck me: why cause-focused groups may not work well on LinkedIn (more on that below), and how much LinkedIn offers. The presentation focuses on five ways to best utilize LinkedIn professionally: be goal-oriented, optimize both your personal and company profiles, utilize groups, and use LinkedIn Answers.

With more than 100 million users, 44 million of them in the United States, LinkedIn is a social network you can’t afford to ignore. If I had to offer three tips about using LinkedIn effectively, they would be:

  • Think about why you and your organization want to be one LinkedIn, and how you use it will follow.
  • Identify a combination of 10 keywords and keyword phrases that best describe you, and 10 others that best describe the organization. Integrate these keywords and keyword phrases into your personal and organization profiles.
  • Complete all employee personal LinkedIn profiles to 100%, as well as the organizational profile.

Start with your goals

The key to using any social media platform effectively is to use it to meet your goals. Decide first why you (or your organization) would want to use LinkedIn (such as finding collaborators, funders, or colleagues). Once you know why you want to use LinkedIn, how you will use LinkedIn follows. For example, if you want to use LinkedIn to connect with foundations then you might:

  • Search for people who work at those foundations.
  • Join groups that they have joined and participate.
  • Ask for introductions through mutual LinkedIn connections.
  • Use LinkedIn Answers to ask a question about contacting foundations.

Identifying your goals will dictate your LinkedIn strategy.

Optimize your personal profile

One aspect of optimizing your profile is completing it fully. Be sure to include your photo, a summary of who you are, keywords and interests, and a summary of what you’ve accomplished in every position. It’s also important to have at least five recommendations, since you can search LinkedIn by number of recommendations.

Use the “advanced search” option to understand how you can be found, and include those in your profile. Some of the search parameters are by industry, geographic location, number of recommendations, and position titles. Continue reading