I’m continuing my Social Media Summer Series for nonprofit fundraising and engagement with Linkedin today. Originally known as a platform to post your resume and professional profile online, LinkedIn has grown to become a much more versatile and effective tool to network with other fundraising professionals or with (potential) donors and supporters. However, engaging through LinkedIn can be a challenge as it differs significantly from other social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. LinkedIn has dual functionality in that it can promote both you the individual and your organization. How you set up your profile will determine the success of your efforts on this platform. Having a presence on Linkedin is about more than just soliciting donations. It’s about connecting with other professionals and (potential) donors and building long term relationships and the following three tips will help you maximize your exposure and reach on this growing platform.
Profiles. When creating your personal and company profiles make sure all sections are complete including the summary, experience, education and additional information. The more complete your profile, the greater the likelihood that you will be found and it will rank higher in searches. The summary portion of your LinkedIn profile is the most important as it helps how others find and connect with you and your organization. Use keywords and phrases that are specific to your charity and cause. Upload a picture of yourself that is professional and projects a welcoming image. When creating a headline, use keywords that identify your abilities, attributes and the value you can bring to your online relationships. Finally, include a link to your organization’s website and blog and rename the links to be the name of your company rather than the generic “company”. Create a Company page for your organization, keeping in mind that much like your personal profile, it’s important to complete all sections of your Company profile. Make sure the url for your company page contains the name of your company.
Connect. LinkedIn is all about making connections through your own network and tapping into your network’s network. One way to build on your network is by sending invitations to colleagues you have worked with in the past and present. Use the search feature to find people to connect with and send invitations to connect ensuring that your message is personalized. It’s also ideal to connect with people who are active in discussions and share information, as they are more likely to be engaged. Ultimately the objective is not simply about connecting with just anyone but to build (on) professional relationships with potential and existing supporters and colleagues that will be valuable in the future.
Groups. One of the key benefits of LinkedIn is connecting with others that have the same values, interests or are in your same industry. This can be done through joining groups and being an active participant in discussions – asking and answering questions so that others identify you as an expert in your field. In doing so, you are establishing and building a reputation for yourself and your organization which will help increase your network. Starting your own group specific to your cause can also help you engage new supporters. However, it’s important to monitor your group regularly to ensure that posts and discussions are relevant and that spammers are blocked. Outline the group rules so that members know what to expect from the onset.
As with all social media endeavours, it’s important to set realistic goals to help you stay motivated and on track with your LinkedIn efforts. These should include who you want to connect with and the size of your network. Keep in mind that to be most effective your LinkedIn focus should be on quality over quantity.
You can browse through all previous entries in my Social Media Summer Series for nonprofits thus far which includes a series on Facebook and Twitter.