Thursday, February 26, 2015

10 Important Steps to Take for Your LinkedIn Profile to Present As A Wow Executive Director Candidate

When you are seeking or hoping to be discovered for a Nonprofit Executive Director position, you need to pay attention to your online presence. Even if you have the most professional resume ever written, the person conducting the search will be checking you out online. Your facebook page may be private, but if it is public make sure it does not have anything that would be offensive to anyone on it. Same goes for Instagram, twitter, etc. But more important than what you don’t say is what you do say and the site that needs your attention is Linkedin.   Linkedin is being used more by nonprofits and many nonprofit executive level jobs are now posted on Linkedin. Here are 10 things to do to make your Linkedin Profile present you as a wow candidate for executive director positions.

1. Consistency between your LI Profile and Resume
You should give your Linkedin profile as much attention as you do your resume. But they are not written in exactly the same way. Resumes are essentially a paper document and a Linkedin profile is an online document. The LI profile should be crisp and use bullet points. It does not need to be complete with details on every job you ever had but it does need to be consistent with your resume. For instance, if a hiring manager looks at both and they have different dates with listed companies that would be a problem. This could easily happen if you have written your LI profile at a different time than you did your resume and didn’t check the details as you did later when you were completing a resume for a job search. Make sure they both are consistent.

2. Thoroughness 
 Your Linkedin profile should be as long and as complete as possible. Linkedin puts the most important sections first and someone can just stop scrolling whenever they want. However, Linkedin provides the opportunity to include things that may be helpful that would not be appropriate to include with a resume. Make sure you take advantage of all this extra information. Here are some possibilities that you should not overlook.

3. Volunteer Experience and Causes
Are you a regular volunteer or have you served on a Board. Make sure you include it in this section. There may be an ED opening in a field not related to your current job but related to a field you have volunteer and/or board experience with. This section of your LI profile can be the most important one you will ever fill out and it is often overlooked. It is especially important for people who are seeking a career change into the nonprofit sector to complete this section of the profile

4. Slideshare
Are you asked to give talks to groups? Is it something okay to share publicly? Consider posting your presentations on slideshare and linking them to Linkedin. EDs and CEOs has expected to be good speakers and are the voice and face of the nonprofit organization in many venues. It does not hurt for your LI profile to show that you are experienced at public speaking.

5. Skills and Endorsements
This is a very important section to complete BEFORE you send out invitations to join your network. List the skills you have – especially ones you think will be important in the type of job you are seeking. Look at the Linkedin Profile of people you know that have the kind of position you seek and see the skills listed high on their profile. When you complete this section of the profile make sure you check all of the boxes about endorsements.

6. Connections
The more legitimate connections you have on LinkedIn the better.  Stay away from people you don’t know who look like they will just be bothersome to you.  Linkedin makes it easy to grow your network. First they will connect with your email address book and invite all or selected people to join your network. When people accept your invitation they will also have the opportunity to endorse you for skills listed. You profile is improved by people endorsing you for skills you have. When people accept your invitation in most cases you will be able to see their connections. Scan through them and if there are people THAT YOU KNOW and would like to connect with invite them to join your network. They don’t have to be your BFF but they should be someone you know. How well do you have to know them? When I get someone’s business card at a conference, client meeting, etc I feel comfortable asking them to join my network. The sooner, the better – while they still recognize my name. You will want to grow your network of nonprofit connections as much as possible because you never know who will be an important connection later. I have seen this happen at the most unexpected times.

7. Recommendations
People can endorse you simply by checking a box next to your name and this will be shown in tabular form on your profile. More important are actual written recommendations. People ask for recommendations through LI. Sometimes someone will write one for you and you should consider writing one on their profile if appropriate. Don’t feel shy about asking people to write recommendations for you. If you see a profile with many recommendations I can guarantee that an email was sent to connections asking for recommendations.

8. Projects
The LI Profile has a special section for “Projects.” If you have been part of or led a major project or inter-agency project, this is a good place to highlight it.

9. Other
There are a bunch of other sections and they are not all appropriate for everyone. But some of them are right for you and add value to your profile.

10. Be vigilant, Appreciative and Current
Update your Linkedin profile in real time. Received an honor last night? This morning is a good time to add it to your profile. Be sure to check off skills you know about for people in your network and thank people when they write a recommendation for you. If appropriate always write a recommendation for people who have recommended you. Like your connections updates. In brief, use LI as the networking tool it is meant to be. Of course all of this should be done in moderation. You don’t want to spend an excessive amount of time on LI, but you do want to make good use of it – especially if you are interested in advancement.

You can check out my profile on LinkedIn here.  And please feel free to ask to connect with me.


Monday, February 02, 2015

How Does Your Nonprofit Board Stack Up? New BoardSource Report Gives You the Tools

Boardsource  just released the report on its latest  study on Board performance. They asked over 1000 CEOs/EDs  and Board Chairs to complete a detailed survey and in these days when “big data” is king – here it is - all nicely analyzed and tabulated for you. “Leading with Intent – A National Index of Nonprofit Board Practices”  provides important insight into board practices. It is a treasure trove of information enabling you to see how your Board stacks up against similar Boards. 

I recommend that you read the whole report.  You can download it here 

The report is divided into three categories – People, Work and Culture. 

Leading with Intent - BoardSource Report Structure

There is too much data to cover in one blog post so this one just features the results in the “work” category. 

Leading with Intent - CEO and Board Chair Grades for Board Responsibilities

Boardsource asked CEOs and Board Chairs to rate their Boards in the 10 basic areas of responsibility for Boards.  This chart shows that there are some important areas that need improvement: Fundraising and community relations are on every list of desired improvement in Boards.  But equally important are these areas in the middle that are too often neglected: I believe that nonprofits can be much more effective if Boards  took their responsibilities for strategic planning, CEO evaluation and monitoring programs more seriously.  These areas are much more tied to fundraising and community relations that we give them credit for. One of the most important results from strategic planning that I have seen is a dramatic increase in awareness and involvement by Board members with the organization.  Being excited about the strategic direction of an organization equips a Board member with the tools to be involved in fundraising and community relations.  In essence it gives them the belief and the storybook to go with it – the ingredients so often missing to enable board members to be effective ambassadors.

Next lets take a look at this chart:

An interesting question:  In your opinion what are the three most important areas the Board should address to improve performance? 
The predictable:  The Board Chairs and CEO agree that “Strengthening fundraising” is the most important by far.  There is also 100% agreement at 41% that “Strengthen Outreach efforts and act as ambassadors for the organization” is important. 

More interesting:  While 28% of Chairs said “strengthen the approach to strategic planning was one of the most important areas needing improvement, only 17% of CEOs did.  Conversely, while 22% of CEOs thought that Boards should be more accountable, only 12% of Board Chairs saw this as a priority.  Hmmmm.  I quick survey and conversation on these questions would make an excellent board development exercise and a board meeting or retreat.

None of us – individuals or organizations - are perfect.  However, you can use this data for benchmarking your own Board performance and see how you stack up compared to similar organizations. There is data presented in this report by size and type of organization so that you can compare yourself to your peers.

If you are interested in working with me on board development using this report data, please let me know.  I can’t wait to delve in even further.


A popular resource all year long:

2014 Wishlist of Books for Nonprofit Folk