Ten Simple Ways To Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile For Success


As a LinkedIn group manager, I have the daily opportunity to view profiles of nonprofit leaders from all over the world. Although I’m delighted to engage with so many social entrepreneurs using this platform, there are some unwritten best-practices about using LinkedIn that I’d like to share.

I am confident that they can help you grow your network and help spread the word about your organization’s important work more effectively.

Building upon my last #SM4GOOD post “How To Turn Strangers Into Colleagues Using Linkedin“, I want to share ten simple ways to optimize your LinkedIn profile for success.

Ten Simple Ways To Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile For Success:

  1. Use a professional, classy picture of yourself. LinkedIn is a professional network, not Facebook. Use a classy looking picture of yourself that helps build your brand as a leader. It is ok to use an image of yourself with your family, friends, pets or participating in some activity on other platforms but not here. If you don’t have a a current, high-resolution picture uploaded yet, do that right away.
  2. Use your headline as a place for a benefits statement instead of your job titleLinkedIn gives you tons of space to write up a killer one-liner; add some spice to your headline. Which do you feel is more engaging to a potential donor or colleague?

    headline #1 that says “Executive Director of ABC town Community Services” or

    headline #2 that says “Helping at-risk youth in ABC town increase their self confidence through learning practical job skills”.
  3. Make your profile public for anyone to view. If you’re looking to make strategic connections through LinkedIn, make sure that anyone can view your complete profile any time. When someone wants to connect with me yet has blocked huge portions of their profile from the public, I am immediately skeptical about what they’re hiding and automatically decline the connection request.
  4. Don’t have too many (or too few) connections. We’ve all seen them; LION networkers with tens of thousands of “connections”. If you’re in the game of quantity over quality when it comes to first-degree connections, you should probably focus on Twitter as LinkedIn works best when you organically build yourself a network of people you know or legitimately want to get to know. On the flip side, having too few connections (let’s say under 50) gives the impression that you’re not really serious about using LinkedIn.
  5. Write your profile in the first person. This one I don’t understand. It’s your profile, you’re writing it. Why write in the third person? It’s not a resume, a book jacket or a biography. It’s a professional personal ad. Referring to yourself as your first name doesn’t make you look smarter or more professional, if anything it creates an emotional gap between you and the person browsing your profile. Use “I” instead.
  6. Strategically filter your displayed endorsements. It’s always exciting when someone endorses us for our work but that doesn’t mean we have to display all the kudos on our profile. I’m a big fan of picking the top 10-15 endorsement categories that align with the message you’re trying to send and deleting the rest. By eliminating random, off-topic endorsements from your profile you’ll look tidy and focused.
  7. Display authentic recommendations. People like doing business with those whose talent has been vouched for by other credible leaders. There are probably dozens of people who would be happy to recommend your work but until you ask them to write up a quick note about their experience working with you, there will be no social proof to show your prospects that you’re really great at what you do. Take the plunge and ask for some support from your network. Most people will easily say “yes” (if you sincerely did a great job for them).
  8. Go easy on the status updates. The trick in navigating social media is that each platform is completely different from every other. On Twitter you can easily get away with posting 15-20 times/day; however, on LinkedIn, this is just not done. The name of the game on LinkedIn is professional courtesy – only post relevant, informative updates 2-3 times/day.  (Oh yeah, don’t accidentally use hashtags or @mentions – looks super tacky).
  9. Reply to your direct messages in a timely manner. Someone sending you a message and not getting a reply within 3 business days is like someone calling you personally on the phone and you never calling them back – pretty rude. No matter what, make sure you have a system in place to get those messages and reply to each and every one as soon as possible. Stand apart from the crowd and actually check your inbox regularly – this one is a LinkedIn game changer.
  10. Send personalized connection requests. When you send a connection request to someone and just use the default request script, it gives the impression that you don’t really care about the person you’re sending the request to. Take ten extra seconds when expanding your network to write a personal note about who you are and why you want to connect with them. Go the extra mile, it makes a BIG difference.

The thing I love (and hate) about LinkedIn is that unlike Facebook or Twitter, there is a very distinctive culture and unwritten set of expectations that each user should adhere to. For many people, the amount of work that goes into setting up a proper LinkedIn profile, is so overwhelming that they don’t even try to figure it out then end up being one of the millions of profiles that no one looks at and no one engages with.

What could you accomplish and who could you meet by deciding to become an expert at using LinkedIn instead of trying to get by on just the basics?

Got a question about any of these ideas? Leave a comment and I’d be happy to reply. 

About The Author…

Next Level Nonprofit
Equipping EDs with the skills & support needed to enjoy a successful, sustainable & satisfying nonprofit career. Follow her on Twitter @ngolinsky
Natasha Golinskyon
Vancouver, Canada Area | Professional Training & Coaching


User Generated Content Drives the #GivingTuesday Movement Towards Success

UNnselfie MovementTime NewsFeed asserts that, “A good ‘word of the year’ will sum up our culture as it was during that particular orbit around the sun.” As the earth makes its full revolution, it seems only right that the giving season is here and #GivingTuesday has restored the balance over the 2013 Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year by introducing the #UNselfie. An online campaign designed to generate earned media for good causes around the globe by asking supporters to take a picture of themselves doing something for the greater good.

There were many vehicles in place for spreading awareness through print, radio, and television, but nothing takes the cake like simple word-of-mouth. The White House took part in pushing forth the #GivingTuesday Movement along with many other prominent public figures, celebrities, nonprofits, and socially responsible corporations.

People across the nation catapulted the movement’s efforts through user generate content by promoting #GivingTuesday as a national day of giving, helping good go viral through social media and a multi-channel approach. Whether you’ve made the The Bieber or The Sunsoaker your favorite selfie pose this year, #GivingTuesday provided each and every one of you self-regarding exhibitionists an opportunity to shed the narcissism and cast your stance on raising awareness for your favorite cause or nonprofit organization.

User Generated Content – #UNselfie Movement

The Tale Of The Hashtag

Over the last 30 days, 723,237 unique tweets were sent out with 289,063 of them peaking on #GivingTuesday while #UNselfie reached 33,580 total tweets and 16,933 on Decembers 3, 2013. They both achieved a Topsy Sentiment Score of 84, which is comparable to brands like Calvin Klein (83), Pepsi (84), and Taco Bell (86) during the 2013 NFL Superbowl. I’m talking about hundreds of billions of impressions with retweets, @replies, and the impact on other social media platforms like Facebook, Google+, YouTube, Instagram, and Pinterest.


This year, there were 10,000+ nonprofits participating in #GivingTuesday worldwide, a 300% increase over 2012 with only 2500 organizations during its kick-off year. It is anticipated that the number of mentions for #GivingTuesday will surge to a cool million+ by the end of the year as the giving season continues.

As you can see in the graph below, the use of #UNselfie started to drop hard and fast when supporters stopped producing content just one day later. The good thing is that the giving has not been interrupted.


A Bigger Trend in Global Personal Philanthropy

Blackbaud, a leading source of nonprofit news, trends, best practices, and a founding partner of #GivingTuesday recently published its findings for the 2013 giving day to reveal a final tally of $19.2 million in online donations, up 90% from $10.1 million since the inaugural season in 2012. While Black Friday suffered it’s first decline in spending since 2009.

Is this a sign of the times? Are we are heading towards a major decline in global apathy? I hope so! With all the record-breaking fundraising which occurred for many organizations – big and small – perhaps #GivingTuesday is the answer towards breaking past the 2% GDP ceiling in charitable giving. I’ll keep my fingers crossed and keep the optimism flowing.

Needless to say, the bump in online fundraising for #GivingTuesday should provide a compelling argument to all the naysayers and skeptics. Take a look at FirstGiving for example; donations increased by 175%, from $159,102.96 in 2012 to $438,018.50 on December 3rd. Then there’s the General Board of Global Ministries UMC in Los Angeles who yielded $6.5 million from 11,000 donors in 34 countries.

Mobile and social media will continue to play a major role in online fundraising, especially with an increase of 205% in mobile donations in North America alone. Thus contributing to a larger trend in global personal philanthropy as we move into the new year. Combining this with the power of crowdsourcing will allow people to fundraise for the causes they care about most while at the same time garnering a return on relationship through increased awareness for the organizations they cherish.

It is important for 501(c)(3)’s to demonstrate transparency and high visibility in spending, allowing supporters to see how their contributions are causing impact. Existing technologies and new innovations in the nonprofit sector will continue to drive and expand this effort. In the future, digital literacy programs and capacity building will help all organizations participate in #GivingTuesday to reach new donors and break some records of their own.

Just as online technology is helping business reach millions of new potential customers in a more targeted way, it’s also helping nonprofits reach a huge pool of potential new donors.” —Bill Gates

Moving forward, I can see the first Tuesday after every Thanksgiving as the official launch date to the charitable giving season and year-end fundraising. #GivingTuesday will be established as a household term as commonly familiar to the masses as Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Like many foundations in the country hosting a Giving Day to empower their communities, the #GivingTuesday Movement sets to do the same on a global scale.

If you missed this historical fundraising event, not to worry. The next one isn’t until December 2, 2014. I think you have a little bit of time to start prepping. The best is yet to come!

Congratulations on a well coordinate effort! Kudos to all +Giving Tuesday partners, ambassadors, and social change agents for participating. I am grateful to +Henry Timms of the +92nd Street Y, Kathy Calvin of the +United Nations Foundation, and +Steve MacLaughlin of +Blackbaud for making this a reality.

Special acknowledgment to +Google+ and +Mashable for hosting the first ever Hangout-a-thon which featured 12-hours of giving live and direct. Check out the video below if you missed it.

I suggest you bookmark this page and watch it in piecemeal.

Did you participate in #GivingTuesday this year? Please share your results, biggest challenges, and overall thoughts on how to make it better for next year.

How To Turn Strangers Into Colleagues Using LinkedIn


I was scanning through my online calendar the other day and couldn’t help but notice how almost every single conversation I had had in the past 30 days was with someone who had I “met” using LinkedIn.

A Skype call with one of my best friends who is an Executive Director of a small Oregon nonprofit?
-Met him on LinkedIn.

A phone call with a colleague from Boston who I check in with regularly to share career growth notes?
-Met him on LinkedIn.

A conference call with the women in my virtual marketing mastermind group?
-Met all of them there too.

As I thought about how I grateful I am to have connected with all these incredible nonprofit professionals, I noticed that the development of each relationship had followed a consistent pattern.  If you’re new to social media or are just unsure about how to effectively use LinkedIn, I’d like to share with you my step-by-step plan for turning strangers into colleagues using the biggest business directory in the world.

Step 1. Know WHO you want to meet. Approaching LinkedIn without a game-plan is incredibly overwhelming. There is so much going on, so many groups and so many profiles; it’s so easy to feel lost in the mix. Strategically identify 2-3 types of connections you’re looking to make and write up a demographic profile of each before you begin any kind of networking. Example:

  • Potential clients: Executive Director of human services nonprofits in Oregon.
  • Potential joint-venture partners: Other nonprofit consultants who have a different but complimentary offer for the same target market that you could network with.
  • Top influencers you’d welcome the opportunity to learn from: Another nonprofit thought-leader in your niche that you’ve always looked up to and whose books you love.

Step 2. Figure out WHAT the benefit of connecting with you is. Once you know the WHO (the “types” you identified in Step 1), you can then begin to plan out your WHAT. Take the time to identify the specific needs and pain-points of each prospects and write down some ice breakers that you could use to initiate a conversation. Example:

  • Potential client connection request: “Hi Joe, it’s great to connect with another Oregon based nonprofit professional. I’d love to hear more about your organization’s vision for the community of Albany and if there is anything I can do to help spread the word about your work.”
  • Potential joint-venture partner connection request: “Hi Jane, I’m a big fan of your blog and love the work that you’re doing to help Oregon based nonprofits develop successful capital campaigns. I’d love to hear more about your work and discuss potential networking opportunities that would help us both grow our businesses.”
  • When connecting with a top influencers: It is usually better to wait until you have a strong LinkedIn foundation and you can show them that you’re profile is totally up to date, you’ve got lots of connections (and recommendations) before you initiate contact. Hold off on this one for now.

Step 3. Invite them to a phone conversation.  Once someone from your target market accepts your connection request, the next step is to move the relationship OFFLINE asap. Imagine that you have a 48 hour window between the time that you get a new connection and the time that they forget about you completely. Setting up a phone call is a great way to build rapport quickly. For example:

  • For any new connection: “Thanks for accepting my connection request Jake. How’s your schedule looking over the next week or so? I’d love to set up a time to chat and learn more about you and the work that you do and if there is anything I can do to help spread the word.”

Step 4. Do your homework!!! This is the networking secret that NO ONE, ABSOLUTELY NO ONE does that will totally blow your prospect away.  Before your call, spend at least 20 minutes getting to know everything you can about this person. Read through their LinkedIn profile, check out the “about me” tab on their website, Google them. Jot down 5-8 interesting little known facts about them that you can bring up in conversation. For example:

  • “Jill, it’s so great to get a chance to connect with you on the phone. I gotta say, it’s not often that I get a chance to talk to a licensed scuba diver. I don’t want to take up a bunch of your time today but I can’t wait to hear how you went from living on a boat in Thailand to becoming the ED of a West Coast nonprofit. That’s got to be a great story!”

Step 5. Don’t sell on the first call. No matter how tempted you are, use the first phone call as a time to chat and get to know each other. Block 20-30 minutes just to have a regular conversation and identify the needs of your prospect. Professionals take their time. Use this call to add tremendous value to your contact (maybe some free advice, maybe make an introduction you know they could benefit from, etc). Don’t try to close. Relax and have fun.

Step 6. Add them to a follow-up schedule. As you start having phone calls with new connections, you’ll find that there are certain people that you really liked and want to stay in touch with. With these people, set up a keep-in-touch schedule you feel would be appropriate for the situation. Make it your objective to get to know them and to be a friend – don’t be one of those people who are always trying to sell them. When the time is right and they’re looking for a partner to help them solve their problem, you’re the person they think of.

Check out this handy infographic via PowerFormula for Linkedin Success:
Linkedin Infographic

I know that for many people who have spent their entire careers networking in a live – face-to-face format – social media networking can be a bit daunting. If you have a question about any of the specific steps I outlined above, please leave a comment and I’d be happy to do my best to answer them. See you on LinkedIn!

About The Author…

Next Level Nonprofit
Equipping EDs with the skills & support needed to enjoy a successful, sustainable & satisfying nonprofit career. Follow her on Twitter @ngolinsky
Natasha Golinskyon
Vancouver, Canada Area | Professional Training & Coaching

Do Gooders Unite on the Social Web to Cause Global Impact

As featured in an article, Top 20 Communities to Join on Google+ via UpCity.com’s Daily Tips Blog:

Performing good deeds with social media does not have to seem like a lonely crusade when a motivated tribe of like-minded individuals back you up! Inspired by Gabriel Reynoso, learn how social media is distinctly helping to change the world through cause marketing, as well as contribute to your goals and find assistance accomplishing them.

Our mission is to promote the digital communications of registered nonprofit organizations, global foundations, and philanthropic endeavors to support humanitarian relief, cause social impact, increase quality of life, and improve the human condition worldwide.

The social web is a powerful tool, uniting an extraordinary group of Social Media Angels from the planet Earth. SM4GOOD delivers universal goodness via volunteerism, cause marketing, social media marketing, Internet marketing, online fundraising, SEO, NPTech, analytics, and a nice dose of daily inspiration. ☺

There are many organizations which need assistance navigating the realm of social media and technology. We are here to help bridge the gap of knowledge, increase the visibility of various causes, amplify their message, and teach them how to manage the technical aspects of their efforts to the point of self-sufficiency.

Join us today and donate any amount of time you can spare within the sub-sections where your knowledge is most dominant. The Social Media 4 Good Community focuses on supporting accredited and internationally recognized organizations. In the future, our members will determine how best to add credibility to independent crowdfunding campaigns in an effort to add value on a more personal and/or community based level. In the meantime, we will focus on what we know with certainty.

Helping do gooders be better do gooders with technology! This is exciting. Let’s go!

Our main platform is on Google+. The Social Media 4 Good Community currently has over 1400 members, including awesome organizations such as WomenOnCall, We-Care.com, and Action Donation Services (just to name a few) who contribute regularly to the community with fresh social media how-to’s and know-how. We are blessed to have a cast of other talented individuals who share their expertise as well.

Here are some other places across the social web where you can find SM4GOOD:

I encourage everyone to stay inspired! Please subscribe to our blog on WordPress and be sure to tell a friend. Tell us which topics you’d like us to write about. We’d love to hear from you.

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