Why Nonprofits Should Be Using LinkedIn
By Myrna Greenfield
One of the most effective online tools readily available to nonprofitsto enhance visibility, get advice, and recruit employees and volunteersis LinkedIn, and, best of all, they can use it without charge.
1. LinkedIn is the worlds largest professional network with over 120 million members in over 200 countries and territories.
While Facebook has 750 million users, many professionals prefer to use it exclusively for personal purposes. A recent study by Lab 42 showed that that 61% of people surveyed used LinkedIn for professional networking, compared to 22% for Facebook and 4% for Twitter.
Professionals who are already using Twitter can set up their LinkedIn updates to appear in their Twitter feed and vice versa, so the two networks complement each other.
As of July 2011, Google+ already had gained 20 million users, and it could become increasingly valuable over time. All the top social networks strive to add more features and gain new users, so theres no guarantee that LinkedIn will be a useful network over the long term, but for now its the best choice for most people who use social networking for professional purposes.
2. LinkedIn helps professionals stay connected or to reconnect with people they already know, as well as get to know new people.
It also provides opportunities for professionals to exchange knowledge and resources and be part of a broader network of people with similar interests.
3. Nonprofits can create free Company Pages on LinkedIn to create visibility for their brand.
The company pages also make it easier for nonprofit organizations to promote their products and services, as well as get people to follow them and post status updates, job opportunities, news mentions, new hires, Tweets, and blog posts.
Over 101,000 organizations currently have a company page on LinkedIn.
4. Nonprofits can ask their employees to develop and use their participation in LinkedIn to help further the work of the organization.
LinkedIn is primarily set up for people to post and connect as individuals, but since the employees profiles will appear when someone looks for the organization where they work, their individual profile is already linked to their employer.
Social media has blurred the boundaries between professional and personal life, but creating explicit guidelines about how the organization and employees will use LinkedIn can make it mutually advantageous. The individual employees will benefit from professional development and networking and increase their own visibility, while helping the organization achieve its goals.
5. Nonprofits professionals can use LinkedIn to position themselves and their organization as industry thought leaders by answering questions on LinkedIn.
Starting or participating in LinkedIn groups, posting presentations and promoting webinars, speaking engagements, and other events boosts your organization's reputation.
6. Nonprofit professionals and organizations can use LinkedIn to get expert advice from LinkedIn Answers and LinkedIn groups.
Your staff should locate vendors and consultants, and ask for referrals from other professionals and organizations.
7. Nonprofit professionals and organizations can use LinkedIn Today to stay up to date on their industry and share relevant articles or links with their connections or followers.
LinkedIn Today aggregates news that other professionals are sharing on LinkedIn and Twitter. You can set up a customized LinkedIn Today feed to help you get the latest news about industries, news sources, and/or specific categoriessuch as nonprofits, PR, or social mediaall in one place.
8. Nonprofit professionals with LinkedIn profiles that are customized with their name (e.g. www.linkedin.com/in/yourname) have a better chance of being found in search engines.
LinkedIn profiles and company pages typically appear in the first page of search results. (If you already have a LinkedIn profile, enter your name into a search engine and check the results for yourself.)
9. Nonprofit organizations and professionals can use LinkedIns search capabilities to find organizations or people with specific skills, expertise, experience, or connections.
Having a well-developed profile makes it easier to be found by other nonprofits, professionals, companies, journalists, and LinkedIn users seeking similar information.
10. LinkedIn is an effective way to recruit employees and volunteers.
Human resource staff can use LinkedIn to recruit individuals with the desired skills, review candidates profiles, or identify mutual connections to ask for feedback about candidates. For a premium, nonprofits can use LinkedIn services to recruit staff and board members.
And heres a bonus reason:
Virtually any nonprofit can use LinkedIn tools in a strategic way to help it achieve its goals.
Whether youre trying to increase your visibility, market your services, recruit great staff, or share your expertise, you can use LinkedIn to help you get there.
Myrna Greenfield, principal of Good Egg Marketing, can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org. This article is an excerpt of one which appeared in the September 2011
TSNE-Bulletin, a monthly publication of Third Sector New England.