Geri Stengel

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LinkedIn: A Powerful Tool for Nonprofits

I had the pleasure of moderating an “aha” panel discussion the other day. Marc Halpert, managing partner of Connect2Collaborate, and Maria Semple, principal of The Prospect Finder, revealed what nonprofits and nonprofit executives can accomplish with a basic LinkedIn account.

It was a revelation, indeed, for many.

finding board members, LinkedIn for nonprofits, nonprofit leadersMost of the board members, executive and development directors who attended the Governance Matters Roundtable on June 16 do not actively use LinkedIn although they have profiles. Some thought of it as only an online, somewhat stodgy, personal resume or as a time-consuming medium that would expose too much information to strangers.

LinkedIn is a no- or low-cost database that can be a source of information about potential donors, cause marketing partners, and board candidates.

Here are some of the “aha” points that caught one person’s  attention:

  • Your personal profile and your nonprofit’s page are not the same. Make your personal page a lively and passionate reflection of your skills and interests.
  • Most of us have woefully inadequate profiles.
  • You can politely decline to add a connection to your circle.
  • Part of your profile can be public – the Reader’s Digest version – for search engines, and part can be private, for connections only.
  • Searching LinkedIn – even without premier membership – is “amazing.”
  • People were astounded  at how quickly one’s connections can grow, with little effort, through first- and second-degree links.

Still not sure about “Why LinkedIn?” How about:

  • Find potential board members with specific skills and interest in your cause area? Can do.
  • See what connections you have in common with prospective board members, donors or volunteersCan do.
  • Get an introduction to a likely candidate, so you aren’t cold-calling? Can do.
  • Present a lively, engaging profile so people can decide if they want to work with youCan do.
  • Discuss issues with like-minded people in a common-interest group? And get answers to your questions? Can do.
  • Make yourself known as a thought-leader in your areas of interest and expertise. LinkedIn can do.

Yes, Marc says it does take time to get your profile up to snuff, but, like everything else, the investment begins to pay when you know what makes it work and how to use it.

Although it is described as your online resume, your LinkedIn profile is about who you are, not just what you’ve done. And, as Marc and Maria showed the audience with a few easy-to-do examples, it’s really not difficult.

Because LinkedIn is so important for nonprofits and because this panel so excited the audience, Marc and Maria have agreed to do it again, as a free webinar that anyone can join. Sign up, log in, and find out what your nonprofit is missing by having a ho-hum profile and not using the LinkedIn database and groups.

Check our webinar listing for the date and time. We’ll be posting it soon!

In addition to the webinar mentioned above, check out Social Media for Your Nonprofit: Take Charge!, our free, downloadable ebook, with a section on LinkedIn, how to use it, and examples of nonprofits who have made good use of it. You’ll be inspired … and surprised.

So there you have it: Rev your nonprofit’s LinkedIn engine without spending much time or any money.

What’s stopping your nonprofit from using LinkedIn? Have you checked out tips for making your profile better? What were the results?