Last month, we had the distinct pleasure of having social entrepreneur, impact investor, and transformational coach Gbenga Ogunjimi teach a class on LinkedIn For Nonprofits.
LinkedIn is usually viewed as the "business" social network, primarily relied on for job hunting. And while it excels in that area, there are other tools on LinkedIn that can be incredibly valuable for nonprofits.
Funding opportunites: At first glance, funding may not be something you think of while using LinkedIn. But as the single most important social network for businesses, you can do a great deal of prospect research on LinkedIn, both for corporate/business funders and individual prospects as well. For example, it is often very difficult to find the individuals in charge of corporate giving programs, or corporate social responsibility programs - LinkedIn can help you with that.
After you've spent some time building your network (and you've thought strategically about what you and your organization are looking for) do a deep dive through your network, looking at 1st, 2nd, and 3rd degree contacts. See who you know, then see who they know - and look for any potential funders/in-kind contributors. Ask for introductions from your connections, but be sure to offer value to everyone involved.
And you can always use the "advanced search" features to find people in certain industries or geographic areas that you may be looking for - again, valuable prospect research, and you can start to build your LinkedIn network in the right direction.
Knowledge Sharing: LinkedIn provides a powerful platform for knowledge sharing as well. LinkedIn groups offer ongoing discussions, links and articles that can be incredibly informative. A good example is the Chronicle of Philanthropy group, which not only has links to articles but a seemingly endless series of questions and advice posts. The best part is you can see who is answering the questions and contributing to the conversations - often, it is some of the best people in the field.
LinkedIn also has an "Answers" section where you can ask your fellow nonprofit professionals questions (such as, "What's the best donor management software?) and receive answers, again, often from true experts in the field. Simply reading through those can be informative, but you can also answer questions as well. As you start answering questions and contributing to conversations, you demonstrate competence and build your reputation. This can lead to funding opportunities, and even help you out with that traditional LinkedIn purpose, finding a future job.
Many thanks to Gbenga Ogunjimi for the great class!
Gbenga Ogunjimi is CEO at GO Global Inc. a leadership consulting and investment firm. He applies his wealth of experience in social enterprise, philanthropy and international service as a bridge builder - bridging the gap of access holding back leaders from making imprints on the global stage.