In 2012, LinkedIn launched Board Connect, a tool for finding board members for nonprofits through current board member's networks.
Beth Kanter, an expert in nonprofit social technology, and Geri Stengel, the president of ventureneer.com, share their top 5 recommendations when it comes to using this tool. We also recommend some great ways to integrate LinkedIn with workflow technology tools!
Know what you're looking for
When filling any position, always have a checklist of skills, experience, and qualities, outlining the perfect candidate. Searching for particular backgrounds and characteristics in LinkedIn can really help narrow your search. Look at the background of each current board member and formulate your checklist!
Build your network before you need it
For nonprofits, a Talent Finder account is offered at no price to one person, therefore that sole person needs to have a large network to search--Beth recommends a network of 350-500. Constituent relationship management (CRM) tools that integrate with networking sites can help you build this network from donors, volunteers, and corporate connections.
Experiment with your search
SEO comes into play here as well. Come up with lists of keywords that you could plug in, and a list of keyword combinations that yield a good pool of candidates. For instance, searching for your cause (e.g., animal abuse), with areas of expertise or experience (e.g., animal welfare act, animal rights, animal advocacy, AETA, ALF, cage-free, cruelty-free, declawing, etc.), and experience with similar organizations (e.g., SPCA, Paws For Life, etc.) will narrow the search. However, some keyword combos could limit it too much; this is where the list of keyword combinations comes in.
Email directly or use InMail
First degree connections, or people the account holder knows, can be contacted directly, however second degree connections (people in the account holder's extended network, through first degree connections) require an introduction or can only be contacted through InMail.
After a potential candidate replies to email or InMail, arrange a phone call. Stengel says it doesn't have to be long--10 minutes should do it to get a feel if the contact seems interested. Stengel recommends arranging a luncheon with the current board members to discuss candidates, followed by an invitation for candidates to visit one of the nonprofit's locations. Even if a candidate turns down the opportunity, all is not lost. Your nonprofit was able to make a personal connection with a community influencer, which can be considered an opportunity to further engage the individual in your cause, either through donation, sponsorship, or volunteering.