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Leverage the Power of LinkedIn for Your Organization
With more than 364 million members, LinkedIn connects professionals to help make them more productive and successful. Yet, volunteer board members may not be fully tapping into the benefits of this powerful — and free — networking tool. LinkedIn can help you increase awareness of your organization; recruit new members, board members and staff; share thought leadership content; and initiate strategic partnerships. Your goal should be to appropriately and strategically highlight your voluntary service and how your organization is serving its members.

Here’s how:
  1. Call out your volunteer work. When you start your profile, LinkedIn will prompt you to upload your résumé, which provides the necessary outline of your professional experience, education, etc. Your volunteer board service should be included in the Volunteering Experience section, which has no description box. However, there is a work-around. Go to the Experience section (where you typically present your work experience) and click on “Add a Position.” Fill in the details as prompted, using these tips:
    • For Title, type in “board” and LinkedIn will offer several options for board titles. You can choose one or create your own.
    • Use your organization’s approved language (typically found on the “About” page of the organization’s website).
    • Include the contributions you and your board have made to the organization and the effect your organization has had on its members and the industry or profession it serves.
    • Add the skills and experiences you have gained as a board member.
  2. Share your passion. LinkedIn offers a Summary section for you to present an overview of your work. This is an excellent opportunity to reach prospective connections by showcasing your background and interests that might also appeal to them. In fact, in the Summary section, LinkedIn prompts you by asking what you are passionate about. In addition to writing about your work experiences, you can show your appreciation for the great work your association does.
  3. Be succinct. LinkedIn limits the number of characters in each section: headline (120), summary (2,000), position description (2,000) and maximum number of skills (50). This requires you to write concisely. Avoid repetition and make sure every word is purposeful.
  4. Grow your network. When you meet someone new, exchange business cards and later invite him or her to join your LinkedIn network. Do not underestimate the power of seemingly weak connections, because they may lead to new opportunities for you or your organization. LinkedIn also makes it easy to expand and maintain your network. Use the LinkedIn function “People You May Know” to make new connections. Finally, make sure to actively maintain your network by endorsing your connections’ skills and liking or sharing their posted content.
  5. Share content within your network. By using LinkedIn’s forum for thought leadership, you can share or post news or in-depth articles about your industry and your association. With regular postings, your network will help position you as an expert who is actively engaged in that subject matter.
With a strong LinkedIn profile and active network engagement, you have the potential to reach more professionals with common interests. If a big part of your life is your association service, LinkedIn can be a highly effective way to highlight that and help others discover how your association is making a difference for the members it serves.
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JUNE 2015 EDITION
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Board Forward is published 10 times a year by SmithBucklin, the association management and services company more organizations turn to than any other. SmithBucklin has served volunteer board members for more than 60 years.

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