by Anthony Juliano
As a fundraising professional, you’re an expert at building relationships. However, there’s one tool that even some of the most seasoned veterans overlook when it comes to enhancing their existing relationships: LinkedIn.
LinkedIn tends to take a back seat to sites like Facebook and Twitter because it’s seen as … well, a little boring. Don’t let LinkedIn’s stodgy reputation fool you: study after study has shown that it’s unmatched when it comes to lead generation, and it also has the highest concentration of members with the means to give — by far — of any social media platform.
- Participate in connections’ status updates. When someone shares a status update, he or she is saying, in effect, “Here’s something I believe is worth your time.” The audience — including you — can show its agreement by clicking like, adding a comment or sharing the status update, thereby demonstrating that you value what they have to say — and, by extension, that you value the individual who posted it.
- Provide recommendations, endorsements and introductions. LinkedIn gives you the ability to speak well of others’ work by providing them with a recommendation or endorsement. Don’t do this disingenuously, but by all means, take the time to acknowledge connections who do outstanding work. One of the best ways to reach your goals, after all, is by helping others reach their goals.
LinkedIn also provides several means by which you can introduce a member of your network to someone else. If you connect two people who can be resources to one another, you’ll get twice the benefit.
- Sharing a common interest by way of LinkedIn groups. When an important advocate has a specific interest, you probably pay a little bit more attention to that topic than you would otherwise. LinkedIn can help here, too, when you join the same groups as those with whom you want to build a relationship. Being in the same group as an advocate or donor allows you to glean insights about what motivates or inspires them. Better yet, you can be part of the same conversations as these connections, giving you the opportunity to make an impression on them and add value.
It’s important to note that LinkedIn is no substitute for one-to-one, substantive communication. However, when it’s used to bridge the gaps between real world interactions, it can make good relationships even better.
Anthony Juliano of the LinkedInstitute, and Vice President of Marketing and Social Media Strategy with Asher Agency, is an experienced LinkedIn trainer and strategy consultant. He has developed and taught several LinkedIn classes, presented about LinkedIn at national conferences and provided LinkedIn training for a wide variety of individuals and businesses. Anthony approaches his work with one simple goal: to help others understand today’s changing communication environment. He will be presenting two sessions this February at the 2014 ALDE International Educational Conference in Jacksonville, Fla., “Building Bridges With LinkedIn: How to Connect With Your Advocates,” and, “Bridging the Gap Between Social Media and Marketing: An Integrated Approach.”