Wed, October 05 2011

Looking for people to work with your nonprofit? Look at LinkedIn

Katya Andresen's avatar

Author, Robin Hood Marketing

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Filed under:   Social Media •

Today’s post is by guest blogger Geri Stengel of Ventureneer.  Ventureneer provides online education and peer support for social entrepreneurs, nonprofit leaders, and values-driven small business owners. Two important disclosures: Ventureneer has partnered with LinkedIn to make nonprofits aware of the free or low-cost recruiting tools LinkedIn offers to nonprofits, and LinkedIn is represented on the board of my organization, Network for Good.

You’ve heard it before: It’s all about connections. That’s true in social media and in finding the right people for the board, the staff, and the volunteer corps.

Connections count even more for nonprofits these days with funding uncertain and staff recruitment budgets non-existent. But help is at hand: social recruiting. And the emerging leader in social recruiting is LinkedIn.

Board members

With something as simple as Advanced Search, you can find people in your area who are interested in your field and can bring to your organization the skills you need. An example: A trade association needed a new board member with a legal background and experience in re-writing nonprofit bylaws and reorganizing a nonprofit board.

A quick, basic search brought two candidates to light, one of whom had a recommendation from a person highly respected by the board chair. An interview was arranged – and the rest is history.

Staff and volunteers

The same technique can work when looking for staff, from front-line service providers to fundraising staff. You can also use it to find volunteers who are driven by the same passion that drives your nonprofit and may have the experience for which you are looking.

Now that LinkedIn profiles have a section for volunteer work, it’s easier to find people who have an interest in your mission as well as the expertise you need. (KATYA’S NOTE: more on that development here.)

And, because LinkedIn is a connection-based database, you’ll know if you have friends in common or friends of friends that can make an introduction or give you more information about a prospect.

Nonprofits that want to step it up a notch can try LinkedIn Recruiter. Recruiter expands your reach, allows you to pinpoint exactly what you are looking for, gives you tools to track the progress of contacts and interviews, and the ability to contact candidates easily through LinkedIn. You’ll even get links to passive candidates, those not actively looking for a new position but who may be ideal for the positions. Eligible nonprofits may qualify for a discount on this fee-based toolbox.

On being found

Connections go both ways. People who want to find a nonprofit that excites their interest and needs their help can also use LinkedIn. First, of course, they should update their profile to include that “Volunteer” section. Second, make sure that your profile is keyword optimized so you are found by organizations whose mission you care about.

The “Volunteer” section is also a good place to start for those who want to move from the for-profit world to the nonprofit world. Your volunteer work shows what you care about in a way that your work experience can’t.

The “being found” advice applies to nonprofits. The nonprofit’s profile and those of its board members and key staff should be engaging, clear, and keyword rich so potential donors, employees or volunteers can both find you and be impressed by you.

And I haven’t even started on LinkedIn groups. Do you provide homeless services or want to volunteer at a nonprofit that provides homeless services? Do an Advanced Search. Talk about connections!

If you’d like more insight into social recruiting using LinkedIn, sign up for the free Ventureneer webinar How to Use LinkedIn for Nonprofit Staff Recruitment on October 13.

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