Using LinkedIn for effective relationship management and business development
I recently delivered a LinkedIn workshop for the region’s voluntary and community representative body, Involve Yorkshire & Humber.
Involve approached me to do this workshop because many of its members had highlighted social media – and particularly LinkedIn – as an area they wanted to learn more about.
LinkedIn is well established as a networking business development tool for businesses and the private sector. But there are a great deal fewer third sector professionals active on the site.
Involve’s Communications & Marketing Manager Helen Robinson suggests in a recent blog that many third sector professionals are missing out by leaving LinkedIn to languish – and I agree with her.
Delegates included senior representatives from a number of voluntary organisations in the region, as well as some professional services organisations who work with voluntary sector clients.
While charities may have specific goals around fundraising and community engagement, they also now (increasingly) have to look at business development and income generation work too. The voluntary sector has also been proactive in developing partnerships with the public and private sectors – and LinkedIn is a great tool for this.
Whatever sector you work in, LinkedIn offers a wealth of opportunity for all sorts of things: finding and recruiting talent, extending your networks and raising your profile, seeking out new business opportunities, growing your database.
Here’s an extract from an interview I gave before the workshop, with some useful insights on what LinkedIn can do – and how to get it right, and wrong!
What can charities get out of LinkedIn?
“Everything you’d expect from a professional social platform: brand awareness, fundraising opportunities, business services, and general help and advice. But most importantly, LinkedIn can be used to help grow a community – whether that is a community of volunteers or a group of key stakeholders with a shared common interest.”
Most common mistakes on LinkedIn?
“Bad profile pictures are unfortunately very common! Aim to look professional and friendly in your photo. You should be able to recognise someone at a networking event from their LinkedIn picture, so anything too arty or ambiguous is out. Another pet hate of mine is non-relevant InMails (always take the time to research someone before you message them with an irrelevant request, and spammy sales posts. Many groups have a non-sales policy, so always check this before posting.”
Most common questions you get asked about LinkedIn?
““Isn’t it just a recruitment tool?” is the most common one. LinkedIn is the most powerful way of connecting and building relationships with other professionals. It is so much more than just a recruitment tool – but many people don’t realise its potential. “
Three things that all charities should be doing on LinkedIn?
- Have a presence
- Think like a search engine
- Be active inside groups
Three most useful features of LinkedIn for charities?
“The advanced search facility, groups, and personal profile pages can really work hard for you if you set them up properly and put the time in. [Also see my blog post with useful tools and insights from LinkedIn’s Chris Brown].
In the workshop I talked about how social media can be as powerful as search engines for finding information about people and businesses. I explained how search engine optimisation (SEO) works in relation to LinkedIn, and the vital importance of keywords – how you must include them in your personal LinkedIn page summary, bio and your company profile.
We then went on to look at the various LinkedIn features – advanced search, groups and interests, and how to really drill down to find the information (and people) you’re looking for.
If you work in or with the voluntary sector or have an interest in community issues, civic engagement and social justice, you should check out the Voluntary & Community Sector Yorkshire & Humber LinkedIn group, which is run by Involve.
I was delighted to hear that 100% of delegates said the workshop informed and inspired them to use LinkedIn more. Participants’ comments included:
- “Exceeded my expectations” – Philip Williams, Wrigleys Solicitors
- “LinkedIn is much more powerful than I thought. Jonny was excellent: very knowledgeable and an excellent presentation style. Recommended.” – Gary Wood, Royds Community Association
- “Good mix of presentation, questions and discussion”
- “I expected a general overview: I got this and more”
- “Learnt a lot and keen to put it into action”
I’m interested in people’s views on the usefulness of LinkedIn – do you spend much time on LinkedIn? Do you get tangible results from it?
Please do share your LinkedIn comments, tips and best practice case studies below.