LinkedIn Tips for Nonprofits
LinkedIn is a professional networking site currently geared more towards recruitment and job hunting — but it can be a valuable tool for non-profits. With some attention and regular maintenance, a LinkedIn organization profile can lead resources to your doorstep. Especially when combined with a constructive presence in LinkedIn groups, a good profile can help you find employees, volunteers, donors, sponsors, partners, grants, lessons-learned, advice, and feedback. These benefits will come not only from an expanded LinkedIn network, but also from the web-presence that a good LinkedIn profile can give you — Google searches love LinkedIn. LinkedIn profiles rank high, often among the first, in Google search results lists.
If you don’t have a LinkedIn organization profile, learn how to create one. If you have a profile going, here are a few steps for maximizing its potential for your nonprofit:
- Take full advantage of LinkedIn’s Google ranking. Customize your public profile to be “Full View”, and you can customize the URL for your public profile to be the name of your organization.
- Use the URL: In many places where you have a link to your website, you can and should include the customized URL for your profile. Blog postings/comments, press releases, email signatures — anything that can increase your LinkedIn network. LinkedIn also has the option of creating Profile Badges — buttons for linking to your public profile.
- Make sure the “My Website” section includes a link to your website AND a small sentence about your org (taking further advantage of the Google listing).
- Add other social networking sites to your LinkedIn profile. This way your tweets, blog posts, etc. can be part of making you profile attractive.
- Encourage all employees/volunteers to create and fully update their profiles. If they list their current position with your organization (linking to your profile) their entire network will be linked to your organization’s profile by default. This automatically increases your visibility. And if the profiles of your employees/volunteers are well maintained, they help create a good image for your organization on LinkedIn, increasing the likelihood of finding beneficial connections. LinkedIn has created an under-a-minute short video on completing a personal profile as a way to spread staff involvement.
If you’ve beefed up your organization profile (and encouraged those who work with your organization to do the same) the next step is to join some groups. Groups provide space for connections and for you to host conversations interesting to your org. Search for groups based on your cause, or for groups specific to your end goal. Do you have a conference? Get feedback on the agenda from a group with likely attendees. Raising funds? Get suggestions for relevant fundraising, partners, sponsors, and grants from fundraising groups. Wondering who else works in your issue area? Ask within a non-profit networking group.
Asking questions and participating in discussions within a group can help raise awareness about your org, create buy-in, and increase your network. Maybe start by getting a weekly e-digest of group discussions. Skim the digest each week and decide if these kinds of conversations are what you’re looking to participate in. Another way to look for groups is to see what groups your employees, volunteers, and supporters are in. A step further would be to create a group, but beware that doing so is a commitment. Hosting a group requires regular maintenance, at least a weekly check-up. If you have the time, go for it – especially if there are no existing groups that are truly relevant to your work.
You can also post questions on LinkedIn’s Ask a Question page, reaching a wider audience than those within one group. Or use the Advanced Search to find a specific source of information, feedback or advice — like finding an expert in a particular area, or organizations that do similar work. Indeed looking at the profiles and groups of other organizations can give you ideas for yours.
LinkedIn has some tips for interested non-profits, and provides links to the pages of non-profits who have successful pages. Like any outreach strategy, it will take time and work to maximize your LinkedIn presence. But you will see benefits with a well-maintained profile, even more so with the added benefit of participating in groups.