LinkedIn for nonprofits

Many nonprofit professionals have joined LinkedIn for the usual reasons–we heard it was good for introductions, job searching, and researching colleagues.

But most of us don’t do more than fill out a brief profile and forget about it, until the next alert, the next request for an incoming “connection.”

A recent Best Practices Guide to LinkedIn for nonprofits describes services and features of interest and how it can be used as much more than a place to post our resumes.

For starters, did you know you can create a company page at no cost? More than 101,000 organizations have a LinkedIn page that they use to attract followers and communicate important and timely information about their work.

Once set up in the network, nonprofits can link to or start common interest groups. With the Groups feature, users host content, share resources, start discussions, and alert others to services, programs, and events. For example, the Nonprofit Technology Enterprise Network (NTEN) uses their Group to host content and agenda discussions related to its annual conference for presenters and attendees. When you start or join a LinkedIn Group, you can find news and discussions by topic, play an active role in discussions by commenting on content, and follow influential people and their group activity.

Another LinkedIn feature—the Skills page—can help nonprofits find and share information on professional expertise. For instance, nonprofits use the Skills page to find consultants or contractors with specific experience and knowledge. By searching for a skill, you can identify members with additional related skills, as well as Groups and discussion focused on those areas of expertise.

Active LinkedIn users are likely to use the Status feature to share information. With Status you can post articles, make announcements, recruit survey participants, market new programs, ask questions, etc. This is networking in the nonprofit sense–positioning your organization, building leadership in your network, engaging users in issues and causes.

The Best Practices Guide also describes numerous ways that nonprofits conduct hiring activities using the LinkedIn Jobs and Recruiter features. Jobs lets users post and circulate opportunities, and Recruiter enables users to put in parameters and run searches to find their own candidate lists. Many national organizations like Habitat for Humanity and the Sick Kids Foundation use the feature to recruit candidates, manage the application process, and coordinate internal hiring activities. Recruiter is also a handy tool for conducting Board searches.

The Career Page, a sub-feature of the Company Page, is another LinkedIn tool that many companies use for recruiting staff and volunteers. Members use the feature to develop targeted pages that can help candidates better understand the organization, its culture, recent direction, and career opportunities.

Check out the Best Practices Guide here. It’ll remind you  to revisit your own outdated or incomplete profile and inspire you to LinkIn your nonprofit.

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