Hi! My name is Jenny. I work with nonprofits at Small Act to help them succeed in social media.
We’ll talk a little about what LinkedIn is and some basic etiquette. Then we’ll go into how you can use LinkedIn to help your organization find people and share information.
If you were wondering whether LinkedIn is important, I think those numbers speak for themselves. What is LinkedIn? It’s a social networking site mainly used for professional purposesIf you’re someone who does want updates about what someone is eating for breakfast, LinkedIn may be the site for you. People use it primarily for professional purposes and, for the most part, save trivial updates for Facebook and Twitter.
LinkedIn works like a Rolodex—registered users can maintain a list of people they know and trust in business. I’m directly connected with 179 people. My contacts are connected with almost 26K people. Those 26k people are connected with over 2 million people. That gives me about 2.2 million people I can connect with on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn can do a few cool things that a Rolodex can’t. First, when someone changes jobs and updates her profile, you automatically have access to updated info. Second, and this one’s important, LinkedIn lets you see not only your own Rolodex, but your contacts’ Rolodexes, too.
Let’s look at Casey’s profile. We can see that he’s the CEO here at Small Act. More important, we can take a look at his 500+ contacts.
Even if you’re using LinkedIn on behalf of your organization, you’ll need a personal profile, so let’s talk about how to get started on LinkedIn. Setting up a profile is pretty easy—go to LinkedIn.com and the site will walk you through the steps. A few things to keep in mind when you’re setting up your profile. Be interesting! Your profile doesn’t have to be straight job descriptions. Talk about your accomplishments and goals. Use vivid language. But remember to be honest! Your coworkers will be able to see what you’ve written, so make sure it jives with reality. One thing that I think is important is a summary paragraph. Think of it as your elevator pitch or narrative describing how all of your skills, education, and jobs fit together and what you’re passionate about. It’s also great to include information about what you do outside work—your interests and hobbies. If you’re a marathon runner, that not only tells me that you know a thing or two about perseverance, it might also give me a conversation starter.
Using a real photo helps me put a face to a name. My coworker Katie has a photo that I think is great– she looks approachable, friendly and professional. If Katie goes to a networking event, the people she connects with on LinkedIn will have an easier time remembering her name. On the other hand, I am not likely to recognize the nonprofit professional whose profile is on the right. I met her briefly at a networking event, but don’t remember what she looks like.
Some people like Chris Brogan, a blogger who writes about social media, view LinkedIn as a way to connect with both people they know and with people they’ve interacted with online, but have never met in person. Some people only accept invitations from people they know and trust. And others only connect with people they’ve met in person and in a professional context. Whatever you decide, remember that it’s OK to say no to an invitation. If you do decline an invitation, consider sending the person a polite note explaining why you’ve decided not to accept and invite him/her to connect with you through another channel, like Twitter. If you’d rather not let the person know you’ve declined, you can click “Archive” on the invitation and they won’t receive an update. A good rule of thumb for figuring out who you should invite: Only invite people to connect if you have some sort of shared history. If you’ve never met or interacted with someone, consider following him/her on Twitter or another network that is less formal than LinkedIn. Just met someone at a conference? By all means, reach out on LinkedIn . But wait a day or so before you do. A successful entrepreneur I know says how offputting it can be to receive an invitation to connect on LinkedIn within 15 minutes of meeting a person for the first time. Finally, if others decline to connect with you, don’t be offended. They may simply have a different policy about who they’re willing to connect with on LinkedIn.
Ok, so now that your profile is set up and you’ve thought about who you want to connect with, you should invite some people to connect. You can search LinkedIn by name or by organization.
LinkedIn offers a number of search options. You can search by name, job title, location, company, or some combination of those.
A good place to start would be your colleagues. Once you’ve filled out your profile, LinkedIn will let you see which colleagues are also on LinkedIn.
Search your webmail service for contacts who are already on LinkedIn.
Upload list of contacts from Outlook or another address book.
As Annie’s colleague,it’s great to know that she’s attending a marketing conference– I even have some topics I want her to get more info on while she’s there. I’m a lot less interested in know who provides service to the iPhone of the person in the second box, especially on a forum like LinkedIn that’s specifically for business-related info. It looks like she just has her statuses from Twitter automatically post to LinkedIn, which I don’t recommend because the content that’s appropriate for one platform is often not relevant on the other.
Now that we’ve covered how to get started with your own LI profile, let’s talk about how you can use LinkedIn for your org.
You can search LinkedIn in two ways: you can search for a specific person or you can search by keywords that will help you find someone who meets certain criteria.
In this economy, it’s likely that you will get plenty of applications for job openings, so for most positions, you probably won’t need to find additional candidates. Instead, LinkedIn will probably be most useful for doing some background research on your top applicants. Let’s look at Casey’s profile again.
Tom at Dreams for Kids says, “An extraordinarily gifted and charismatic entrepreneur, Casey has captured the essence of change and reminds us that it all begins with one small act.” Steve Paskow of BioDynamics says, “Casey is a genius!” Is that helpful information to know? Definitely. Is it on his resume? Probably not.
When you’re looking for an expert, whether to provide consulting or to speak at an upcoming event, searching by keyword may be the way to go. Let’s say I run an animal shelter and I want to find an animal welfare expert to give me advice on how to help more animals find permanent homes.
I put animal welfare expert into the search, along with my zip code so that I pull up local experts. I got 389 results. Here’s where LinkedIn does something smart. It sorts the results by how well you know the person. The top result is Jessica Lubetsky, someone I know, but I didn’t realize she knows about animal welfare issues. She would be a great place to start. I also have a number of 2 nd degree connections, which means that someone I know knows each of these people and might be willing to introduce me.
Just like for job candidates, there are two ways you can use LinkedIn. You can use it to find donors and to find out about donors. To find donors, you could search for people who are affiliated with certain organizations or list specific interests. If you run an animal shelter, for example, you could search for people in the area who are involved with The Humane Society. People focus more on professional interests on LinkedIn, though, than they do on personal ones. You’ll probably find LinkedIn more useful for researching people you think might be prospective donors.
Three things are pretty good indicators of whether someone might give to your organization: ability, affinity, and affiliation. Ability is a person’s financial ability to give. By looking at a person’s current job and her career history, you can probably get a pretty good idea for her income. The better you can estimate her income, the better you’ll be able to guess how much she can give your organization. Affinity is how closely the prospective donor relates to your cause. If you run a literacy program for kids and you find that a prospective donor once worked as an elementary teacher, you can probably assume that he values education and literacy pretty highly. Looking at someone’s career history, education, and interests on LinkedIn could give you some pretty useful insights into what your prospect values. Affiliation is how closely tied the prospective donor is tied to your organization. Does she list herself as a volunteer with your organization on her profile? She might be wondering why you haven’t already asked her for a donation!
Let’s say I run an organization that protects the endangered gorillas in the Democratic Republic of Congo and I want to find out more about Gary, a prospective donor. Ability Gary is a Senior Policy Advisor at a pretty large nonprofit, BirdLife International. I could do a little research on websites like salary.com to get a better feel for what people in similar positions make and then I could estimate how much he might be able to give to my organization. Affinity , Gary works for a conservation nonprofit now and has also worked for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. I also see that he studied environmental science and environment finance, so he probably has a pretty strong affinity for conservation programs and may be interested in gorilla conservation. Affiliations , he used to be part of a bird club when he was in college, so maybe he’s interested in birds but not gorillas. When I talk to him, I could mention how protecting gorilla habitat also protects the habitat of a number of endangered bird species.
Finally, I can see that Sean, a former colleague of mine, knows Tom. I can get in touch with Sean to ask for an introduction. That way I may be able to turn a cold lead into a warm one. I can also see that we’re both members of a group called Environmental Finance & Economics, so I might be able to connect with him that way.
created a group on LinkedIn, American Red Cross Volunteers, to help its volunteers and staff network and share ideas, best practices, and expertise. Not only does the group help the Red Cross publicize opportunities to help, it also provides a huge benefit for its volunteers—an instant network of nearly 1,000 people who are also interested in the Red Cross.
Let’s look at a few of the conversations people are having about the Red Cross on LinkedIn.
Your employees probably have a lot of skills and expertise you don’t even know about. LinkedIn is a good way to learn more about your employees. The admin assistant down the hall has a degree in fine arts? Now you know who to ask for help with design projects. LI is also a good way to keep tabs on former employees. Many of them are probably big fans of your organization and might be willing to lend their talents again in the future.
When I click on Dana’s profile on the Small Act page, I find that she studied political science. Who knew? When I have questions about clients who do policy work, I now know who to ask. I can also use the page to keep in touch with Carrie, our superstar summer intern, as she progresses through her career.
Now let’s look at how you can find info and share knowledge on LinkedIn.
There are three main ways you can share knowledge on LinkedIn.
On LinkedIn’s Answers Page, you can post a question, answer a question someone else has asked, or browse through questions other people have posted.
I browsed the nonprofit section on LinkedIn’s Answers and found this question from Leigh Slaydon of Public Health Laboratories. She asks what kind of open and click through rates organizations similar to hers are seeing on their marketing emails.
She got two really thorough responses. This one, from a marketing manager, suggests gives her some specific numbers and suggests ways she can increase her rates. It also recommends a website with average rates for different industries.
A direct mail expert also responded to Leigh. He says gives her a range of numbers, as well as info on what might be effecting how many people open and click on her organization’s mails. He also invites her to contact him if she has questions. With one simple post, Leigh was able to get two great answers to her question, as well as some resources to use if she has more questions.
While LinkedIn’s Answers is a good way to share information on specific topics, the groups on LinkedIn are a good way to keep up on an industry. LinkedIn Groups work a little bit like a listserv– people start discussions on a topic
I am a member of the NTEN, the Nonprofit Technology group and I get an email every day with updates in the discussions in the NTEN group. It’s a good way for me to keep up-to-date on what people in nonprofit tech are thinking about and I don’t even have to log in to LinkedIn.
Company Profiles are an important research and marketing tool for your organization that can help potential donors, clients and employees learn more about your company and the people who work there. From AARP’s profile, we can get info on what AARP does, see who currently works there and start following AARP if we want to get regular updates.
I also like Disney’s page. I can get a little bit of info, see who I know at Disney, check out stats about their employees, and see jobs they’re recently posted.
LinkedIn for Nonprofits Jenny Trucano 21 September 2010