This is a guest post from my friend and fellow cause marketer Geri Stengel. Visit her website Ventureneer.
LinkedIn is rising to the top of the social media heap when it comes to finding people, partners or causes. LinkedIn is basically a huge database with all sorts of information about people and organizations as well as who they know and what they care about.
By searching using LinkedIn’s advanced search feature both the business and nonprofit sides of a cause-marketing partnership can virtually meet the leaders and staff of potential partners, see what their interests are, check out the groups they belong to, and see what they’ve written about lately, all indications of whether their interests match yours.
Not only can LinkedIn help you find organizations in your community that might be great partners, it can find connections you have to the people in that organization.
You may be surprised at how useful your connections can be, from your alma mater to your sports club, from your bird watching group to your trade associations.
Instead of making a cold call, you can get an introduction and go into your first meeting with an on-target pitch. Once you know who you want to meet, you can take a look at how your networks overlap to find connections in common. Those connections can give you that all-important first introduction.
In essence, LinkedIn is a free filter to speed up your search and focus on commonalities and the characteristics you want. But it isn’t a no-cost option. While keying in the search terms may take minutes, screening the results and narrowing the filter to pick up just want you want takes time. Remember, you are looking for an alignment of values as well as a common audience.
More importantly, you need to ensure that you’re found by the right potential partner. Make sure that your organization’s profile and the profile of your main players shine brightly. Again, it takes time and some training to realize the range of information you can include to interest prospective partners.
As a business person, be sure to include the volunteer work you and your staff already do. As a nonprofit, make sure the profiles of your board members and staff reflect all their interests and connections, from education to projects, from awards to publications.