The NCG’s “Social Media Series” is back after a brief hiatus. Hope you’re up for another long post on the subject.
The next couple of posts in this social media series will focus on two social networking sites: LinkedIn and Facebook. Before I get into contrasting the two, I thought it’d be a good idea to give a general overview of each. In this post I’ll cover LinkedIn basics and how a grantmaker can use it.
Personally, I think of LinkedIn as an online resume and rolodex combined into one. Allow me to explain.
LinkedIn is a free networking site with over 70 million users. The vast majority of the individuals on LinkedIn use it for professional networking.
After you sign up for a free LinkedIn account, you create your profile by adding the following components:
- Current Position
- At least two previous positions
- Profile summary
- Profile photo
- At least three recommendations
See what I mean by resume?
But unlike resumes that you submit for a job application, you aren’t limited to 2 pages with your LinkedIn profile. You can elaborate on projects and positions that you usually truncate in your printed resume.
You can also further customize your profile by adding a website link, Slideshare presentations, reading lists and even events you are scheduled to attend.
The Networking Part of This Networking Site
Here’s the part that reminds me of a rolodex: you can connect with others who are also on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn will automatically recommend “connections” based on your work history, showing you colleagues and past co-workers who are also on LinkedIn
As your list of “connections” grow, you’ll also see who your “connections” are connected to, which is important if you’re trying to find a way to be introduced to a third party. LinkedIn reveals those hidden connections and helps you leverage personal relationships to make new professional or personal connections.
But to what end, you ask.
Why Use LinkedIn?
Maybe you’re thinking, I already have a list of all my professional contacts in my email, or in my Blackberry, or on file. But do you also have the work history of those contacts, a list of what they specialize in, recommendations they’ve made about professional services, or the individuals they know in your field who you’d very much like to meet?
I think it’s time for another handy video explaining how this social media tool can be used to help our work be more efficient and productive:
But Why Should Grantmakers Use LinkedIn?
I just did a quick search on LinkedIn looking for people here in the Bay Area who work in the field of Philanthropy. The search results came back with over 2,000 individuals.
And how many contacts do you have in your respective address book?
I’d make the argument that as a grantmaker you could use LinkedIn to find new peers, other funders who are working in the same interest area as you. Wouldn’t it be nice to expand your list of collaborators, mentors, or partners?
So Sign Me Up
To create your own LinkedIn profile/account:
- Visit www.linkedin.com/
- Fill out the “Join LinkedIn Today” form, including your First Name, Last Name, Email and a password for your account.
- Click “Join Now”
- Next you’ll be prompted to provide information on your current company information (this will allow LinkedIn to connect you to your current peers and colleagues in the field) and job title.
- LinkedIn will then ask if you’d like to upload email contacts from one of your email accounts. I personally tend to skip these suggestions because I feel like I’m spamming my email contacts. Your alternative to uploading email contacts is to just find people organically, or search for them on LinkedIn and send an individual invitation to them to make a connection. For the sake of this step-by-step how to list, I’m going say “Skip This”.
- LinkedIn will then verify your email address. Expect an email asking you to confirm that you are setting up a LinkedIn account. After you confirm you’ll be able to truly fill out your profile.
- After confirming and signing into your LinkedIn account you’ll be presented with the “Do You Kow These People?” page, a list of potential contacts. Here’s your chance to make some of your first connections. Simply “click” the small checkmark box next to individuals you do know and the click “Add Connection(s)”.
- Again you’ll be given the chance to upload emails of contacts as a way of inviting people to “connect” to your profile.
- Choose a Plan. LinkedIn provides both a fee-based and free profile option. Select which type of account you would like.
- The Welcome page that follows may be a bit overwhelming. Again you’ll be given the chance to give LinkedIn access to your email address book and to view potential “connections” (colleagues or co-wrokers) that you can network with by simply clicking on the “connect” icon under their name.
- Note the navigation links at the top of the Welcome page. Click on the “Profile” tab to edit your profile.
- In the “Edit My Profile” page you’ll have the chance to add a photo (since this is a professional network, I recommend a professional photo); a website url (can be your organization’s website); a twitter account (if you have one); summary about who you are and what you do; your experience (past job positions); your educational background; and contact settings (which let others know how you plan to use LinkedIn).
- You’ll notice that LinkedIn shows you the percentage of your “profile’s completeness” with an icon in the upper right column of your profile. In order to get a 100% complete profile you’ll need to have at least 3 “recommendations” from colleagues or former employers. It’s not requisite to solicit recommendations, unless that is you want to use your LinkedIn profile to potentially find work through your LinkedIn network.
- I recommend you to edit your “Public Profile” url link. This is the url link that you can add to your email signatures or share with colleagues so they can find you easily on LinkedIn. That way your LinkedIn url link will be more like www.linkedin.com/in/yourname vs. a url link with a string of numbers which is what they automatically assign you.
- Lastly click the “View My Profile” to see what the online public will see when they come across your LinkedIn account.
So now that you have a LinkedIn account the next step is to start making “connections.” Let your peers know you have an account either by sharing your “Public Profile” url link with them and look at the “connections” LinkedIn recommends you make and go ahead and make them.
Finally, remember LinkedIn is only going to be useful if..well..you use it. So accept invitations to connect from peers and colleagues in the field (but don’t feel pressured to accept an invitation from someone you don’t know and who doesn’t know any of your “connections”). And login regularly (which can be once a week to start with) to keep your profile up to date and to peruse your “connections” whenever you are looking for collaborators, experts, or advise from your peers.
The Social Media & Grantmaking blog post series will cover a wide range of topics. Check out the introduction post outlining the series.
To see all the posts in this series, simply type “social media series” into the search box located upper right of this web page.