Five Minutes Could Help You Find Your Dream Job

Job searching has changed a lot over the past decade or two. Today I’ll share a very simple LinkedIn hack for making sure you don’t miss out on the job of your dreams:

Update your skills section on your profile

When LinkedIn was new, the skills list was popular, and it was common for us all to spend a lot of time endorsing one another. The platform doesn’t prompt that like it used to, so newer profiles won’t have many (or any) endorsements on their skill lists.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take the time to fill out (and update) your list! It’s particularly important when you look for a new job. When a job is posted, LinkedIn looks at the skills the employer wants and suggests the job to people whose profile lists similar skills.

You can choose up to 50 skills, which can include interpersonal skills (ie, communication, leadership) and skills specific to your industry (ie, accounting, research). I have maxed out the 50 on my profile, and you should, too.

LinkedIn is sometimes the ONLY place an employer will post a job. So while you still want to check all relevant job boards when you’re looking for a new job, it’s critical that you are also watching LinkedIn and maximizing your ability to find the right role. You don’t want to miss that dream job because you didn’t take 5 minutes today to review and update that skill list!

Want personalized help with LinkedIn strategy? Sign up today for a LinkedIn Assessment with me!

The 4 Best Things About Networking With LinkedIn

LinkedIn has revolutionized professional networking, and I would not have had some of the career successes I have with the platform. Here are four reasons I love it.

It’s Free

When I first entered the business world, the only way to network was at in-person events. These could get expensive quickly. The best places to network were usually for paying members. (For example, Chamber of Commerce events when I owned a brick-and-mortar fitness studio, or Association of Fundraising Professionals events when I started my fundraising career.) Even when networking events were free and open to the public, there was the cost of transportation to get there.

On the other hand, LinkedIn is a completely free place to engage with professional connections. (Yes, there is a paid version, but the vast majority of professionals do not need it.) I’m always excited to find a bargain!

830 Million Members

There are so many people on LinkedIn. 830 million and counting! While I definitely believe quality beats quantity every time in networking (and most other aspects of life), some basic math says that if there are more people “in the room,” you’ll be more likely to find the people that you need to. The largest networking event I have been to was related to a conference that had a few thousand attendees. Impressive, but there are so many more people in my field who were not there – but are on LinkedIn. 

Your next hiring manager is probably on LinkedIn. Or your next client. Or your next employee. Or the mentor you’ve always dreamed of. You get the picture – with so many professionals on LinkedIn, you definitely want to be there, too.

Open 24/7

Networking of the past was most likely to happen at a happy hour. Maybe a morning coffee. Occasionally a luncheon. Today, it never has to stop! 

This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t take breaks – open 24/7 doesn’t mean our notifications have to be on 24/7. Boundaries matter.

However, it is pretty cool that you can log in when it meets your schedule to network, rather than having to rearrange things on your work or family calendar to make the events work. 

You Don’t Have to Wear Pants

Before heading out to a networking event, it’s necessary to dress the part. While it can be fun to get dressed up, my feet are so much happier when I don’t go out as often. Tennis shoes feel much better than heels! I can skip the hair and makeup, too. Life is more comfortable this way. And if you don’t like to wear pants, well, you do you – they aren’t necessary for networking on LinkedIn.

None of this is to say that LinkedIn will or should replace networking in person. Those events can be rewarding and have value. LinkedIn offers a chance to do additional networking beyond the events. (I always connect on LinkedIn within 24 hours of meeting people at a networking event to continue the conversations we started!) It’s a chance to network with people that don’t live in the same geographic area (some of my best mentors are many states away). 

So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and start networking on LinkedIn today!

(Want help assessing your LinkedIn profile and networking strategy? Hire me!)

LinkedIn Doesn’t Have to Be Hard. Try These 3 Tips

Any social media platform can feel overwhelming, and LinkedIn is no exception. 

  1. Know Why You’re on LinkedIn

You can’t measure success if you haven’t defined the goal. Would you get dressed up and drive to a networking event without knowing why you were there? (The answer should be no.) Don’t get on LinkedIn just because someone says you “should.” (But you should.)

Understand your immediate and long-term career goals and make sure that you keep those goals in mind when you build your profile and when you plan how and when you will be active within the platform.

  • Keep Your Profile Up to Date

I recommend reviewing your profile quarterly, and anytime you have a significant change, such as a new job. Make sure your profile picture is current, your summary is still a good reflection of who you are and what your professional life is about, and your job history is complete.

(Want some extra help with your profile? Check out my free DIY guide!)

  • Schedule Time for LinkedIn

Adding time for LinkedIn will help you in two ways. First, it will ensure that you have time available to be there as often as you need to for your goals. Second, it will set a boundary around how often you need to be there so that you don’t start stealing valuable time from your other priorities to scroll the platform.

Start applying these tips today, and before you know it you’ll be networking like a boss on LinkedIn!

Fundraising Conferences Need More Practitioner Presentations – Why Not You?

At many fundraising conferences, attendees say they would like to hear more from their peers sharing what works for them on the ground, in the trenches. The voices of practitioners are often under-represented on the roster. As a practitioner who has spoken many times at fundraising conferences and events, I’d like to share the Why, What, Who, When, Where, and How of speaking. If you’re doing good work in your development shop, your peers want to hear from you and I want to help you get started.

Please visit Bloomerang to read this full article!

The Fundraising Starter Kit

You’ve just started your new job as a director of development in a nonprofit, a team of one ready to raise the money needed for a mission you love. Congratulations! Now, what are the best resources you can use to do your job well and learn the parts of fundraising that are new to you? These are my recommendations based on what I have found most useful in my career.

You’ll want a grounding in all aspects of fundraising, so make sure you seek to understand at least a little about: individual giving, major gifts, grants, events, bequests. I recommend looking at the content areas of the CFRE exam now – even if you don’t decide to pursue certification, you’ll find an overview of the kind of knowledge you’ll need to do the job well, and they have a recommended reading list full of books that will be worth the investment.

Another thing I recommend right away is to join the Association of Fundraising Professionals. Ask your employer to pay for this! If they won’t even after you make the case for it, this is the first investment I’d consider making in yourself. I have paid out of pocket for my membership at times during my career and find that it is worth the investment for me. (Check with your local chapter to see if you qualify for discounts or scholarships; as a new professional you may have access to some help with the financial burden of joining.)

Through AFP you’ll not only have access to additional education resources, some free for members and some available at a lower member price point, but you’ll have an opportunity to network. Local chapter events as well as conferences organized by global are valuable not just for the educational content, but for the chance to make friends with the presenters and other attendees. Build relationships so you’ll have people to ask questions of later, or just to vent to when it’s one of those days! 

There are lots of free resources out there, but the volume of newsletters, webinars, podcasts, and blogs can be overwhelming! You only have a limited amount of time to read and watch webinars. Here are my favorites:

Bloomerang Blog: You’ll get content on a variety of fundraising topics, much of which is contributed by practitioners and consultants.

Better Fundraising Company Blog: The emphasis of this blog is written communications, including appeals and newsletters. 

Nonprofit Tech for Good Newsletter: I like this newsletter because it gives me a handful of headlines in the morning from other sites, and I can click through to read whichever ones are relevant to what I’m working on at the moment.

If you have money available to invest in some reading material, here are the first books I would buy:

Fund Raising: Evaluating and Managing the Fund Development Process by James M. Greenfield or Achieving Excellence in Fundraising edited by Temple, Sieiler, and Aldrich: Start with one of these for a textbook style overview. I have both on my shelf and continue to use them as references in my work.

If Only You’d Known… You Would Have Raised So Much More by Tom Ahern: A bit easier to digest than the textbooks listed above, this is a great collection of fundraising myths busted.

Major Gift Fundraising for Small Shops by Amy Eisenstein, MPA, ACFRE: This was like a simple instruction manual I used when I worked in a small shop that had never done major gift work before and wanted to build a program.

The Foundation Center’s Guide to Proposal Writing: If you’ll be writing grant proposals as part of your fundraising program, this is a nice overview of the process.

There are so many other books that I’ve purchased and loved, but we’re just trying to get you started on the basics for now!

The most important resource you’ll need in your current role and throughout your career is a good network. Having someone you can call and talk through an issue you’re facing is gold. In addition to joining AFP, consider joining or attending some meetings of other professional groups such as the Grant Professionals AssociationYoung Nonprofit Professionals NetworkAPRA, or other groups specific to your location. 

Another way to build a network is through social media. Follow the hashtag #fundraising on Twitter and start listening to and joining into the conversations happening there. Join a Facebook group or two aimed at the nonprofit and fundraising industry – a few to check out are: 31st CenturyFundraising Chat, and Nonprofit Social Media Storytelling. Head to LinkedIn and follow the speakers and writers whose voices you like. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask to talk – I can’t speak for everyone, but my experience has been that most people in the industry will say yes to making time to meet!

These are the suggestions that have worked for me, and they are US-centric since that is where I am based and not as representative of the diversity of voices in our sector as they should be… there’s a whole world of professionals out there who have their own favorite resources, and plenty of other great voices who specialize in talking about particular areas of fundraising when you want to go deeper on a narrower topic!

I crowd-sourced Twitter for more ideas, and encourage you to check out the thread here. Special mentions from this thread include Fundraising Everywhere, who curate content on their website and put on a diverse and accessible only conference, and SOFII, the showcase of fundraising innovation and inspiration. 

It’ll take some trial and error for you to find the right mix of resources, and over time you may find that some are less relevant to you as your skills and the most important focus areas for your nonprofit’s program change and grow. I hope these suggestions help you get started!