A bit of a misconception exists that LinkedIn works only for job-seekers. In fact, there are many ways that this more business-oriented social network can be used by association and nonprofit marketers, communicators, and executives.
Recruit New Employees
OK, so I just said that LinkedIn is not just for job-seekers. But certainly those folks do exist on the site and when you or your HR operation need to find new talent, LinkedIn can be a useful resource. Whether you just do general searches to make cold calls on prospective new hires or you post a job (at a cost of about $300), you will likely be able to find qualified candidates to interview. A LinkedIn page for your organization can house these listings as well as other information about your group.
Recruit New Members and Donors
Most associations and nonprofits want to increase their membership rolls and raise more money. Some of that comes through traditional recruiting efforts, but LinkedIn provides opportunities to find individuals and those who work at companies or organizations that would make good additions. Once identified, the relationships within LinkedIn will help you to make that initial connection. You should also encourage members and supporters to list their affiliation on their own profiles to create more ways for potential members and supporters to find your organization.
Recruit Board Members
LinkedIn recently announced a program for nonprofits called Board Connect that provides free access to tools that can be used to help identify new board members for your organization. Bringing on board individuals who may not be members but who share the objectives of your association or nonprofit can help expand your influence and improve your governance.
Build Better Relationships with Members and Supporters
By connecting with your members and supporters on LinkedIn, you can stay in touch with them and learn what’s going on in their professional lives. It simplifies finding them when you travel (see below for more on that) and it builds your circle of influence to help you accomplish more on LinkedIn.
Set Up Meetings When You Travel
If you do a good job of connecting with members, prospects, and other professional contacts on LinkedIn, it opens the door to easily arrange for meetings when you travel. If you’re in a city for meetings, an event, or even vacation, you can easily use the Search capability to identify people you know in that location. Imagine inviting a prospect to a small event in their own city as a way of introducing them to the benefits of membership. Or perhaps connect with someone who works for one of your member organizations but not in the headquarters city so they may not show up immediately in your own in-house database search before your trip.
Connect with the Media
Many members of the media, especially those working for trade or niche publications, maintain a presence on LinkedIn. You can find them through the Search function and then begin to build relationships with them from there.
Promote Organization Activities
On a personal level, you can share updates on LinkedIn in much the same way that you would on Facebook or Twitter. You can share links to content or just short bits of news or commentary. In addition, you can (and should) create a page for your association or nonprofit where you can share a wide range of information about your organization and post regular updates about your activities that members and others can subscribe to see.
By using LinkedIn tools for sharing updates, asking questions, and posting in groups, you can collaboratively plan events. For example, you can use LinkedIn to solicit new speaker proposals — or to identify individuals you would like to reach out to and invite directly. You can ask for suggestions about topics or venues. You can request feedback on past events to help shape future ones.
Engage in Topical Conversation
LinkedIn Groups provide an opportunity for like-minded individuals to gather and discuss topics of substance. It provides an outlet for members and supporters to have conversations, hopefully guided by questions and feedback from members of your own team. In fact, if you create a LinkedIn Group targeted at your members and supporters, you should plan to devote meaningful staff time to moderate and fuel the discussion. These Groups can easily devolve into typical online arguments and spam boards if not carefully monitored and cultured. When done right, however, they provide a useful outlet for learning and sharing.
Find Solutions to Challenges
In the nonprofit and association community, resources often don’t stand up to for-profit counterparts. LinkedIn Answers can provide an outlet for soliciting information and advice for doing your job more effectively. Whether you’re looking for a service provider, trying to solve a thorny challenge, or just want suggestions to improve some aspect of your organization’s activities, you can find answers here.
Get Your News
By connecting with colleagues in your area of responsibility, you can take advantage of their LinkedIn updates to discover news articles and other resources that may be of interest to you, too. Think of it as a curated custom daily newspaper that will save you time and hopefully help you find content that you might have otherwise overlooked.
Directly Promote Your Group Through Ads
Sometimes just relying on networking on LinkedIn doesn’t get you everything you want. That’s when you should consider using LinkedIn Ads to place sponsored messages on pages targeted at likely supporters and others with an interest in your activities. You can market publications, events, or other activities using these affordable ads that can be scaled to fit any budget.
A version of this article originally appeared on 501central.