You probably have a LinkedIn profile. You’ve probably received many invitations and heard many times that you should. So you created one. But even if you’ve built a strong list of connections, you may still be searching for how to get more out of LinkedIn.

As with any other social media platform, an investment of time and effort are required to enjoy its benefits. A great benefit of LinkedIn for a nonprofit marketer or communicator is getting noticed and developing a reputation as a professional and an expert in your field.

Networking has always been an important way to find career opportunities, engage in professional development, advance the interests of your organization or solve issues. LinkedIn broadens these benefits by making it easier to reach a larger audience and to maintain strong relationships with your professional network.

How to get noticed on LinkedIn

1. Ensure your profile is at full strength

Before you do anything else, ensure your profile is at full strength. The old lingo was to have a 100% complete profile. LinkedIn has changed its language but the concept is still the same. In order to show you are serious and ready to use LinkedIn, you need to have a profile that showcases who you are as a professional. Be sure to include more than your job title and employer. Share how your skill set helped your organization deliver its mission and strive to achieve its vision.

Just go to your profile >Edit profile and LinkedIn will walk you through the steps to strengthen it based upon its updated criteria.

Take advantage of opportunities to share samples of your work, slides of presentations you’ve made, links to your publications, your awards and causes and organizations that you help as a volunteer.

2. Build your network

You need a minimum of 50 connections for a full strength profile. To get noticed, you should have more since your connections are a key audience on LinkedIn. Quality is more important than quantity. The stronger your connections are the better, so that when they see one of your updates they have a built in interest.

If you have fewer than 100, spend some time growing quality connections. I recommend putting an emphasis upon connections who demonstrate they actively use LinkedIn. While current and former colleagues are excellent places to start, include anyone who is a part of your real world professional network such as printers, journalists and contacts you make at events or conferences.

Be sure to explain why you’d like to connect. Once you have established a strong foundation with your core network, you can grow it organically as you make new contacts.

If you’re seeking more advice on how to build you network, several of my fundamentals of LinkedIn can assist you.

3. Find your communities of interest

A great benefit of social media is going beyond one on one relationships and being a part of a community of individuals with common interests. On LinkedIn, you can find communities of interest that suit you and your goals in Groups.

Not all groups are created equally and some can be quite spammy or virtual ghost towns. Look for active, well moderated groups. Good options are usually “member only” groups such as NTEN or the International Association of Business Communicators. But you may find value in groups organized around common interests such as the Nonprofit MarCommunity’s group: Marketing and PR Professionals in Not-for-Profit. Or a group with a geographic focus such as Nonprofit South (US), Canadian Nonprofit Communications or Indianapolis Nonprofit Marketing & PR Group.

Looking for more groups? You can do a search but you are better advised to see what groups people in your network belong to and participate in.

If you want people in the group to get to know you, it’s important to be active regularly, posting (including asking questions) and commenting. You’re best to focus on a small number (1 – 3) of groups that you can commit to being involved in. To help you stay active, have daily or weekly updates sent to you.

4. Get active and be social

If you want to get noticed and build new relationships, you need to regularly visit LinkedIn.

For a long time, you may have lacked much incentive to spend time there. But over the last year or so, LinkedIn has undergone a transformation that has made it a much more social environment that is closer to the experience on Facebook while retaining a professional focus.

The stream of updates from your connections is more vibrant, informative and valuable than ever before so be social. Like, share, comment—have conversations!  Many of the articles posted can help you do your job better or grow as a professional. And be sure you are sharing content that others will find interesting and will inspire them to interact with you.

If you are serious about using LinkedIn, I recommend being on and posting or at least interacting daily. At minimum, you need to be visible there once a week. The days of creating your profile and occasionally visiting are over if you want to make the most out of having a presence there.

Being active and being social helps you to be top of mind when people are thinking about how their network can help them.

5. Make the most of your company page

Company pages are not just for companies; any nonprofit organization should have one. In short, they are like having a mini-website or outpost that helps people get to know your organization without ever having to leave LinkedIn. If it’s not there already, consider creating a company page for your organization on LinkedIn.

Looking for good models? Check out Oxfam or the American Red Cross.

Follow pages of organizations that you think can help your nonprofit or help you meet a career goal such as attaining a more senior position with budget responsibility. Actively interact with the information that you post. It’ll get you noticed by the organization and show up as activity in your networks feeds too.

Sharing and commenting on your own organization’s posts can help your network to learn about what you and your agency and business do and know—and even enhance your supporters, donors and volunteers. In larger organizations, it may also help you or your ideas to get noticed by people that you normally wouldn’t interact with but who could be helpful to advancing your projects or career.

A key career tool for nonprofit professionals

I hope I’ve inspired you to get active on LinkedIn.

Your career as a nonprofit communications professional is influenced by what you know, who you know and being in the right place at the right time. Make a resolution to spend more time there—maybe even scheduling it into your calendar.

If you see me on LinkedIn, be sure to say hi!

James Howe
James Howe is the Chief Idea Guy! at Communicate & Howe! which is a full service communications firm primarily serving the social profit sector. He previously worked for the Daily Bread Food Bank in Toronto and the YMCAs of Cambridge & Kitchener-Waterloo. He’s been active on LinkedIn since 2005 and blogs about it. On June 10, James launches a speaker series with a full day conference: Social Media inspirations! in Cambridge, Ontario.
James Howe
James Howe

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