There are new trends nonprofits are adopting on LinkedIn and some of them you might not have expected.  LinkedIn has become well known as the gateway for garnering professional connections, but today nonprofits on the platform are finding untraditional ways to use – and even extend – its features.

Statistically, a staggering one out of three professionals on this planet have LinkedIn profiles. If you want your nonprofit to be visible and active on a global stage then a presence on LinkedIn is a necessity.

What’s even more incredible than LinkedIn’s reach is the fact you can highlight your nonprofit for FREE – a huge bonus for many budget conscious nonprofits.

1. Online Dating, the Professional Networking Trend

When it comes to LinkedIn, networking is the name of the game. Traditionally, LinkedIn networking meant attending conferences, business lunches, office visits, etc. and then following up with a connection request later that day. But with 70% of LinkedIn users living internationally, onsite visits are becoming an antiquated prerequisite for connection.  More than ever the world is literally at your fingertips – as is the chance to spread your nonprofit’s mission – so why restrict your connections with face-to-face interactions?

The Power of LinkedIn Groups

Unexpectedly, the number of connections from LinkedIn groups is changing the networking playing field.  With more than 1.5 million groups from which to choose, users within organizations can join groups to meet other professionals with similar profiles, interests and goals. For nonprofits where the message and mission are weighted more heavily than finances, the ability to connect with like-minded professionals is particularly poignant.

If you’re a nonprofit wanting to grow your organization’s connection to other professionals then joining nonprofit groups outside of your own organization is key.  Keep in mind that only users can join groups – not organizations themselves. Make sure that anyone from your nonprofit who engages within nonprofit groups on LinkedIn has their personal profiles updated with the latest logo, description and insights of your organization so it’s clear what they’re representing.

Using LinkedIn’s InMail Strategically

Whether your nonprofit is in its early stages or is already well funded, creating and maintaining a network of expert and influential connections is always crucial. There are different ways to build professional connections that can lead to your organization’s next professional mentor or board member, but the use of groups to facilitate these connections is growing.  If you’re paying for a premium account, you’re given 15 InMail credits which allow you to message unconnected professionals directly. But, the brilliant aspect of joining groups is that LinkedIn gives 15 InMail credits for all users (basic and premium) for them to reach out directly to professionals within groups they’ve joined. Every month the 15 InMail group messaging credits are replenished.

This free feature hints at LinkedIn’s goal of seeing professional connections happen within virtual spaces, not unlike online matchmaking services. This feature is also a great way to learn from other organizations in the industry and, best of all, its free price-point is right on target for nonprofits!

A Strategic LinkedIn Group & InMail Plan for Your Nonprofit

Have the leadership within your nonprofit scout out LinkedIn groups with common goals and interests. After their presence within the groups is established, have them reach out to like-minded professionals within the group using their free user account InMail messaging for groups (up to 15 per user, every month).

Make sure to always be personable and genuine within the nonprofit groups you and your colleagues join. With nearly half a billion users, being courteous as well as committed to your cause will help your organization’s user profiles stand out as authentic. Remember, because participation in these groups is only possible for users and not organizations themselves, the potential wins to networking via these groups can enhance both the individual user and the organization itself.

Professional networking for your nonprofit means gaining assistance, both in terms of financial development as well as expert mentorship and support. Participating in nonprofit group discussions will help you:

  • Grow your individual and organizational professional network
  • Learn from other nonprofits, both their wins and pain points
  • Find expert mentors and potential contributors for your nonprofit’s development

Join the discussions taking place in nonprofit groups and enable your organization to take part in global conversations– while simultaneously securing connections that are crucial for your nonprofit’s development!

2. The Community Hangout, Creating Your Own LinkedIn Group

Joining the group conversations of other nonprofits is crucial for networking.  But, if you want to grow awareness of your own organization, recruit volunteers and eventually promote events, then building your own nonprofit group on LinkedIn is a must. Note: a group page is not the same as a company page – the latter is meant for official content that comes strictly from your nonprofit. The difference between the two is strategy.  When you establish a LinkedIn group for your nonprofit the content is dynamic rather than one sided.

Ideally, your nonprofit group will grow into a discussion where experts and passionate amateurs alike will feel like they can follow the journey of your organization. Your group page will also help solicit a feeling that participants have a stake in the mission of your nonprofit. Since your nonprofit’s mission is the hearth of your organization then consider this approach as organic fuel.

If you and your colleagues post authentic questions and allow your nonprofit to appear semi-vulnerable, you’ll be surprised by the support that comes forth. Youthful advocates might offer trending insights that your nonprofit is overlooking. Seasoned mentors often will make valuable introductions and advice for undertakings with higher risks or potential bottlenecks.

The experience will be humbling and to a certain degree will demand an acceptance of constructive feedback. Yet, if you engage in the group with comments, appreciations, quandaries your nonprofit currently faces or articles/approaches you’re considering then the group will become an opportunity to capitalize on areas your organization lacks knowledge – with a potentially huge windfall of strategic support.

Your Nonprofit Group as a Recruitment Tool

A nonprofit group page can also help you recruit volunteers and employees exponentially and, again, for free! Users engaged in the conversation are more likely to volunteer their time in person for special activities. If you’re goal is to hire then selecting candidates from a pool of people already interested in your nonprofit for altruistic reasons is an incredible resource.

Controversially, some nonprofits are even posting opportunities on job boards and then asking applicants to join their LinkedIn group conversation – using engagement in their LinkedIn group as a step in the hiring process. So long as an actual job is available, this might be a chance for your nonprofit to see a candidate in action before an offer is finalized.

Other strategies for recruiting via LinkedIn exist, including third party tools that use algorithms to match volunteers with organizations. If you save your candidate search criteria then you’ll also be able to receive automated updates from LinkedIn whenever new matches are found.

Overall, your nonprofit group should become an organic extension of your organization that allows for dynamic conversations. Some of the benefits of creating a LinkedIn group for your nonprofit include:

  • Expert advice and trending feedback
  • Ability to reach passionate volunteers
  • Easy recruitment of new candidates
  • Ability to grow your audience

The more authentically you are able to portray your nonprofit within the group, the better! You’ll garner expert advice, build a community of user support and ultimately grow your nonprofit’s mission.

3. Your Nonprofit and Beyond, Marketing on LinkedIn

There are many ways to market your organization on the LinkedIn platform. Beyond expert advice and recruiting strategies, your LinkedIn Group allows you to send messages directly to group members. This is an easy way to grow your nonprofit’s reach of contacts to whom you can update about news and upcoming events.

On a user level, you and your colleagues can import your email connections and then reach out to those individuals asking them to follow your company page or join your nonprofit’s group.

Despite recent fears that the advanced search feature has been removed for free accounts, it fortunately still exists. In addition to candidate recruiting, the advanced search enables you to connect with and ultimately grow your organization’s audience.

Since LinkedIn can sometimes limit searches for free accounts, a recent article on Pulse highlighted a tool that allows you to search LinkedIn profiles without limits.

Also, publishing long form content via LinkedIn can help your nonprofit grow market awareness. In addition to sharing to your company and group pages, be sure to post your publications within the groups you’ve joined for networking.

The metrics available within LinkedIn are beneficial as well. The platform shows you how many people view and follow your organization, or read your publications. When it comes to your LinkedIn group, you can post quick surveys for instant, affordable market research.

Overall, the interest you gain on LinkedIn can be used as supportive metrics for your nonprofit model. The number of followers, likes and comments your pages and articles generate can also help you continually ensure that your mission is aligning with the community. Marketing with LinkedIn can give you:

  • Ability to directly message members of your group
  • Measurable numbers of support from followers, views, likes and shares
  • Affordable market research by polling your community
  • Opportunity to engage unconnected users through advanced searches and articles

Marketing is a necessity for all organizations, but the LinkedIn platform makes reaching your audience less painful and often with immediate feedback – all at a nonprofit-friendly affordable cost.

Final Thoughts

With a half a billion existing profiles, LinkedIn has publicly stated that its goal is to achieve 3 billion users.  This means that an enormous potential for growth on the platform and in its use of groups still remains to be seen. Millions of companies are betting on LinkedIn and already reaping the benefits. When it comes to the efficient ability to spread your organization’s mission on a low-cost budget, LinkedIn is fast becoming the most impactful tool for nonprofits.

In what ways does your nonprofit take advantage of LinkedIn?

Learn more about how your organization can use social media with these other Three Girls Media articles:

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