The value of LinkedIn for professional networking and recruitment cannot be understated. More than 23 percent of all adult Americans now use the network, according to recent data from the Pew Research Center. And, just like for-profit companies, nonprofits can benefit in a number of ways from engaging with LinkedIn’s unique, mostly college-educated audience.

For example, nonprofits might use LinkedIn to recruit staff, volunteers or board members with specific professional skills or expertise; to publicize upcoming events, fundraisers or volunteer opportunities; or to organize and maintain a group of advocates or thought leaders for their cause.  

But to do any of these things, your nonprofit will first need to establish a strong presence. Follow these practical and tactical tips to optimize your LinkedIn page and get the most out of this powerful networking tool.

  1. Complete your profile. Make sure your page is complete with a thorough description of your organization and its mission in the About section. Include a link to your website. Also, be sure to upload an appealing background photo that communicates something positive about your organization, as well as a high-resolution logo for your profile picture. This will help ensure brand continuity.
  1. Pin a post. If you have an upcoming event or a great piece of news that you want to display prominently on your LinkedIn page, pin it to the top of your Recent Updates feed! To do this, simply click the “Pin to Top” icon located next to the “Like” and “Share” icons at the bottom of each update. Note: You will only be able to pin one post at a time, but you can change your selection as often you’d like.
  1. Share regular updates. If your nonprofit has a website or blog, make sure you promote that content by sharing it on LinkedIn. A steady stream of posts–ideally three to five per week–is an important part of building credibility and engagement. To do this, simply type your update in the “Share an Update” text box on your Admin Page, add any links or photos that you want to accompany the post, and click the “Share” icon. You can even add attachments, like PDFs or Powerpoints, by clicking the paperclip icon in the upper right corner of the text box before you share your post. Check out these tips for creating compelling company or organizational updates!
  1. Sponsor a post. If you have a budget for doing some paid content marketing, consider sponsoring one, or a few, of your most popular LinkedIn updates. Doing so will allow you to reach new target audiences, beyond your current followers, according to any specific demographic characteristics that you set up for your campaign. Learn how to sponsor a LinkedIn update here.  
  1. Leverage your staff and partners. Like many social networking sites, you’ll see far more engagement with your nonprofit’s official LinkedIn page if you ask your staff, board members, volunteers and other partners to follow your page and share your content on a regular basis from their personal accounts. Here are a few specific things you can ask them for to improve your organization’s visibility on LinkedIn.
    • Ask your staff to update their individual profiles to include your nonprofit as their current place of employment.
    • Ask board members or volunteers to update their profiles to include their service to your nonprofit as either work or volunteer experience.
    • Encourage your LinkedIn followers to like and share your updates with their own networks to increase your reach.
  1. Become an influencer. Even if you haven’t been invited to be one of LinkedIn’s 500 exclusively selected Influencers, it’s still a good idea to think like one. Individual users are now able to publish long-form content to all LinkedIn members, just like Influencers! Consider demonstrating your organization’s expertise and thought leadership in your field by developing regular content for your executive director or another prominent staff or board member to post from his or her individual account. To do this, just click on the “Publish a Post” icon from the Home page of any individual LinkedIn account. Review these tips for developing strong content as an unofficial LinkedIn influencer.
  1. Create a group. If you already have a large and dedicated group of LinkedIn followers, or if you are looking to foster collaboration and engagement across several sites, departments or even with external partners, you might consider forming a LinkedIn Group. The big advantage to a LinkedIn Group is that it creates a digital space for professional discussion on alinkedingroupsparticular issue area. It can be public or private, depending on your needs, and is a great way to demonstrate thought leadership, build excitement among those planning programs or
    events, or just stay in touch with former board members or volunteers. LinkedIn recently released a handy
    Moderator’s Field Guide to LinkedIn Groups to help managers moderate groups like a pro.
  1. Monitor and engage. No matter what specific tools or strategies you try to optimize your nonprofit’s LinkedIn presence, be sure to monitor your performance and engagement metrics so you are able to make adjustments as needed. To review your metrics, just click on the Analytics tab near the top of your organization’s Admin page. And don’t forget: the best way to build engagement is to engage! So, set aside some time each day to follow, like, share and comment on other LinkedIn users’ content and accounts to build those valuable relationships.

What other techniques have you used to make the most of your nonprofit’s presence on LinkedIn? Share your experience and/or questions in the comments below. And be sure to check out the rest of our series on how to optimize each major social media platform.