As a nonprofit, you want to do good in the world. You want to provide thoughtful and meaningful service through your actions and words. To do this, you need to possess a few important characteristics: transparency, trustworthiness, and passion. The way that you can truly embody these qualities is through dedicated leaders who are driven by your nonprofit's mission.
Your leaders are the ones who connect your supporters to your overall company and are essentially the mouthpiece of your organization. They are people others will look to in order to either
1. Blame when things go wrong
2. Look to for guidance and purpose.
Your leaders are the individuals who are perfectly positioned to be thought leaders. In a nutshell, a thought leader has been deemed an authority in a specific field. Whether your nonprofit is a church, food bank, or animal shelter, those in leadership are the gurus of their industry. They are wholly driven by the mission and live and breathe the vision.
Utilizing your leadership’s specific skills and expertise will only enhance your nonprofit’s image and bring a bit of life into it. It is one thing to connect with a nonprofit, but it is an entirely other thing to hear and read the words of someone who knows the ins and outs of the organization.
The goal here is to transform your already stellar leaders into thought leaders who share their wisdom and expertise with the wide range of people found online. So how do we go about this?
Here we want to teach you exactly how to become a nonprofit thought leader of one of the best places for professional connections: LinkedIn.
But why LinkedIn?
This unique platform is so much more than just social media. It is a place where most professional connections are made. It is not an endless, unmonitored stream of opinions such as on Facebook or Twitter. You can pretty easily weed out the wannabe experts and get to the real ones.
It is a place where intentional, mission-driven leaders can share their wisdom.
Linkedin provides an excellent opportunity to connect with these other thought leaders to learn and grow from other experts in the field. LinkedIn is the hot spot to be if you want to develop a powerful thought leadership presence online. So let’s get started!
Let your LinkedIn profile tell your story
Our social media profiles are digital autobiographies that tell the story of our lives. But when you are a thought leader in a specific industry, the story you tell is two-fold. You tell your own personal story but you hold the story of your organization as well.
To gain any sort of traction whatsoever on LinkedIn as a thought leader, you need to tell your story well. The way you can accomplish this is through a well-rounded and thoughtfully cultivated LinkedIn profile.
The first step in accomplishing this is by filling out your profile with all relevant information. Don’t rush through filling out your work and volunteer experience. For example, if you’re the leader of an environmentally conscious non-profit, make sure you highlight all aspects of previous jobs that relate to this specific cause. You can demonstrate, through your years of expertise, that you are to be trusted in that field.
Your profile tells the story about you and your proven experience, but it also tells the story about your nonprofit. Remember, you are the liaison between your organization and the outside world; you speak on behalf of it. This means you are responsible for sharing your nonprofit's heart and mission throughout your profile, particularly in the experience and projects sections.
Add perspective and value in every post
The worst thing you can do as a thought leader is a post for the sake of posting. Hitting a certain quota on x amount of posts per week is not the goal but sharing quality content (as often as possible) is.
With each post, you should be aiming to bring value to your connections. They look to you for a reason — to provide excellent insight — so make sure to give it to them. This does not mean you need to write some sort of scholarly article each time you post. It does mean you should be intentional about your words and even spin them in a way that provokes a conversation with your followers and even other experts (more on this later!)
When all else fails, consider doing what nonprofits are known for and give back! While there should be a limit on how much of your expertise you are willing to share, there should be a healthy amount of sought-after expert insight in your content.
Collaborate with your network
While it is often “dog-eat-dog” in the business world, there is quite a different language spoken in the nonprofit world. Collaboration, not competition, actually bodes quite nicely for all parties in the long run.
Think of it simply: if we all worked together instead of wasting time trying to out-perform others, we actually may all be better off!
Collaborating with others online further proves the genuineness and trustworthiness of leaders and their related nonprofits. It shows that the leader is a team player that cares more about furthering the broader mission of doing good in the world than their own individual agenda.
Collaborating with your network on LinkedIn is as simple as it sounds. Collaboration just means that you and another leader or organization are working together in a way that both sides benefit. This could be as easy as working together with another leader to write an article on your industry trends for the upcoming year. It may even be a video interview between you and another organization schooled in the field.
Collaboration may even transform from the online community of LinkedIn into real-life wherein you build community with other organizations, members, and even donors.
The key here is to work alongside others, not against them. In doing so through healthy collaboration, everyone wins!
Encourage two-way conversation
Along the same lines of collaboration, being a valuable thought leader on LinkedIn requires the willingness and ability to engage others well. Thought leaders aren’t meant to just share a bunch of their ideas and opinions and leave it at that. If it is truly valuable content, it should warrant some sort of response or discussion.
Putting this into practice is simple: engage in conversation! When you receive a message or a comment, be prompt in your response while also maintaining value and perspective. If you find yourself engaging with a critique or negative comment, make sure to handle it with poise and grace.
You can learn all about dealing with negative comments here.
Your ability to conversate well with your network proves your rapport and the rapport of the nonprofit you represent. It shows that your organization is an organization that is intentional, responsive, and is quick to engage with its supporters.
Use LinkedIn Groups to interact with your following
LinkedIn is a wonderful place to discover professionals from all sorts of fields, practices, and sectors. However, your voice as a thought leader can be lost in the crowd your followers and network are members of.
LinkedIn Groups provide an excellent platform for professionals in the same industry to cultivate valuable relationships, share their insights and experiences, and even ask for guidance. Through groups, you can contribute to the conversation, start your own, and even obtain new connections you never had before.
Groups are one of the best ways to interact with your following who are specifically interested in the sector of your nonprofit. Posts in groups are ultra-specific compared to the overall LinkedIn social feed, which helps bring more focus to the conversation. Taking part in groups related to your respective nonprofit is a win-win: you can cultivate relationships and even learn something!
Becoming a thought leader online can provide such wonderful benefits to your nonprofit organization. It presents a “point person” for your organization who can answer questions, facilitate conversations, and develop relationships with others, professionally and personally. Your leaders are your leaders for a reason: they provide immense value to your purpose and mission. So why not utilize their expertise with others online?
If you’re looking to build an engaging following for your nonprofit, our team at Pro MediaFire has all the expertise you need to get started.
Our social media team has extensive experience in building and maintaining a solid social media presence and can help your organization shine. With the help of our graphic design team, we can help you stand out online and facilitate growth!
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