In true LinkedIn fashion, I asked people on LinkedIn for tips about how nonprofits can best use the network. The LinkedIn community is very responsive and I received a bunch of excellent tips.
Chris Jarvis, the resident genius at Realizing Your Worth, wrote:
- Join as many groups as possible.
- Follow people from your smartphone. There is a glitch where you don't need to 'know' or have 'worked' with anyone. So, find people who fit your interests and connect to them.
- Follow people in the groups you've joined. Again, you won't need any other connect to qualify.
- Follow 20 - 40 people every week. Most will follow you back IF your profile is 100% complete (meaning a picture) and there are links to figure out whether you're a wierdo or not.
- ALWAYS talk to people. When someone connects with you or invites you to connect, always write a personal note. I use variations on a theme, but I always act like a real person. The only exception to this rule is the initial invite - that can be a standard 'hey, let's connect' (short and to the point).
- NEVER pitch anyone anything right away. It's fine to send info or opportunities about what you do, but not in the first few conversations. That's weird in real life, and it's just as weird on LinkedIN.
- Post relevant blogs, links or other helpful information to your status and then send it to the 50 groups you've joined (or at least the ones that make sense). Feeding your network is essential. But it demands a balanced diet of your stuff and that of others in your network. It's always about value first, our personal goals are secondary (when they overlap - very cool).
- DON'T post too many updates to your groups - they will hate you. No more than 2 a month is my rule.
- DON'T join or post to groups with rules about sharing info that's yours. I'm not talking about spam. Some groups have no tolerance for sharing anything that is of personal benefit to the sharer (I have no idea how these groups survive).
- Did I mention the thing about acting like a real person?
- Oh yes, most importantly - write out 20 keywords that describe you, your organization and your interests. Use these keywords in your profile and in what you share with your group. Also use them when searching for people to connect with. They will help you figure out who you are online and find everyone else that might be interested in who you are. Um.... do this first, not last.
- I think Organizations that act like people do the best on social media. Many times they try to be stiff, professional and removed. That's death on the social web. Just be a real person. Be generous. Be real. Offer value. Just do whatever you'd do at a cool dinner party (or well, at least wish you could do). The rules of engagement are the same.
Therese Pope, Copywriter & Digital Media Buzz-icist at Zenful Communications provided these tips:
- If you are looking for donors, definitely take advantage of the search options and research tools on LinkedIn to find potential donors and supporters. Use your time wisely and make sure these companies have an investment in your cause. For example, there are companies who ONLY donate to children-related causes and do not give to environmental causes. Before you connect with these companies, don't waste your time sending introductory emails to donors and companies who aren't already interested in your cause.
- Look around at other nonprofit organizations that target a similar cause- look at their contacts on LinkedIn. Who are they connected with? And who are those people connected with?
- Remember it's all about building relationships on LinkedIn- so it's all about sharing and telling your organization's story in a real and genuine way. Participate in non-profit group discussions and look at other complementary groups where you would find your donors. But remember it's not about the pitch to these donors and "hey can you give us xyz amount of money?" - it's about making real connections, offering your help and showing these donors and supporters why they should invest and care about your cause.
- Learn to use the search functions and keyword tools to better target your donors and supporters, and read books and articles that walk you step-by-step through LinkedIn's marketing strategies. Here is a review of one book, LinkedIn For the Clueless, by Victoria Ipri.
- Make sure companies can find your organization - why you really need a finely-tuned, optimized company profile.
More tips for using LinkedIn for nonprofits on page 2.