Posts Tagged ‘Sarah Durham’

Build your best LinkedIn profile with the “Brandraising” approach

LinkedIn is all about connecting with others who share commonality. This, of course, can be said of all social networks, but if you want to maximize your professional network, building a personal brand is essential.

Most nonprofit leaders make the mistake of waiting to build a profile when they need it, but the best time to build a profile is now. Additionally, it should be an ongoing “campaign” of networking so when you need a specific connection, your network is ready and waiting. Tommy Spaulding, author of It’s Not Just Who You Know, calls it “netgiving” rather than networking. This is a terrific approach to building your LinkedIn profile. Try reaching out to your initial contacts by looking for ways you can help others, rather than the “connect-with-me-because-I-need-you” approach.

How do we effectively build a brand? Let’s consult Brandraising: How Nonprofits Raise Visibility and Money Through Smart Communications. Durham’s definition of “brandraising” is a great way to get in the right frame of mind for building your profile.  I’ll customize her organizational definition for the purpose of profile-building: Brandraising is the process of developing a clear, cohesive identity and communications system that supports your goals and makes it easier to express your purpose effectively and consistently.

Here are seven steps to building a better profile:

1.       Picture your contacts in the room. Picture yourself in a meeting and introduce yourself similarly on LinkedIn. Sarah Durham talks about “audience-centric communications” in her book. The same rules apply here. Write in your voice as if you were talking directly to someone in the room. Don’t cut and paste your resume.

2.       What is your tagline? The line of text under your name is the first thing people see in your profile. It follows your name in search hit lists. It’s your brand. Try to distill your professional personality into a more eye-catching phrase. Durham recommends making a short list of organizations similar to yours and, if your tagline could apply to them as well, keep working at it until it’s specific to your nonprofit. The same rule can be applied to your tagline on LinkedIn.

3.       Make your summary section work for you. Put yourself back into the meeting room and think about your elevator pitch when you introduce yourself. This blurb goes in the summary box to engage your readers. You have five to 10 seconds to capture your reader’s attention. Durham discusses the importance of developing a messaging platform in the identity level of her brandraising model. The messaging that you create about yourself should include an introduction, key messages about you and, of course, the elevator pitch. Use elements of the messaging platform throughout your profile to build a more impactful impression.

4.       Specialties = SEO. Think of the Specialties field as your personal search engine optimizer, a way to refine the ways people find and remember you. This is where your social sector buzzwords belong. Personal values you bring to your professional performance and humor or passion always add more personalization. Durham explains a fun exercise in her book when you need to isolate the personality of your brand: Ask what mascot could represent you. When you land on the answer, think of words that describe that mascot. These words will help you pinpoint what personality you want to convey in your profile.

5.       Chunking copy helps. When you explain your experience, break down each company or nonprofit you’ve worked for into visual segments or chunks with a short description about what the company does. Make it easy to read and consistently formatted.

6.       Improve your Google page rank. Pat your own back and others’. Get recommendations from colleagues, clients and employers who can speak credibly about your abilities or performance. Think quality over quantity. According to Durham, your messaging platform is shared with board members and staff so everyone is consistently sharing the same message about your organization, thereby building a consistent and more powerful brand. In the case of your LinkedIn profile, your connections are your message carriers so make sure your tagline, summary and additional information fields portray your brand (and personality). Chances are they will reference your profile to make the recommendation.

7.       Build your unique brand. Use the Additional Information section to round out your profile with a few key interests. Add websites that showcase your abilities or passions. Then edit the default “My Website” label to encourage click-throughs (you get Google page rankings for those, raising your visibility). If you belong to a trade association or interest group, help other members find you by naming that group. Awards, recognition by peers, customers and employers add prestige without bragging by listing them here. This strategy looks much like what Durham might call your “experiential level” of brandraising, because this level is where your potential supporters or, in this case, connections may find you. Try to optimize the number of channels in which you can reach people by referencing your affiliations and acknowledgements.

Last but not least, make sure your LinkedIn profile link is on your email signature, website and blog. Now, start “netgiving.”

See also:

Married to the Brand

Breakthrough Nonprofit Branding

Measuring the Networked Nonprofit

Marketing Series–Volume One: Building a Persuasive Case, Seven Transformative Branding Principles, Multi-faceted Strategies and Bonding with Brands for Life

Image credits:,

Leave a reply

The Networked Nonprofit: Let the friending begin

This month CausePlanet is pleased to feature “The Networked Nonprofit” by Beth Kanter and Allison Fine. We love this book and think you will too. Here’s an excerpt from our Page to Practice book summary, which looks at Kanter and Fine’s definition of a networked nonprofit.

About networked nonprofits

Kanter and Fine set the stage for their book by looking inside a highly networked nonprofit called the Surfrider Foundation whose culture is open among 70 chapters throughout the country. The CEO and small staff follow and support their chapters rather than direct and control them; share typically internal documents such as annual reports; and engage followers with a unique, purposeful model that begins with granular participation. The result is more than 145,000 volunteer hours dedicated to the mission and an engaged community. In other words, this nonprofit is networked!

Kanter and Fine attribute the following characteristics to networked nonprofits:

Simple and transparent

Easy for outsiders to get in and insiders to get out

Supportive of people shaping and sharing their work to raise awareness, organize and advocate

Efficient–don’t work harder or longer, but differently

Comfortable using social media tool set to engage two-way communication

Aware they are part of a much larger ecosystem of organizations

Not afraid to lose control of programs, logos, branding and messaging

Naturally willing to work with “free agents” or individuals who passionately identify and advocate online

Able to use many tools to engage in different kinds of conversations with different kinds of people

What struck me most about this book was its orientation toward establishing a philosophy of transparency and openness before launching into the social media planning process. I recall working with a nonprofit organization that wanted to “get on the Facebook” (thanks, Sarah Durham, for calling out those well-meaning folks who like to add “the”) and they wanted Twitter accounts but they didn’t want to actually interact online themselves.

In fact, they wanted to approve all the posts! This is where organizations can do an about face. If the leadership can engage in social media personally, they can empower their staff to follow their lead and develop an open policy for communication online. It’s actually very liberating to let go of the old ways and not have every message approved by three levels within the organization. Interaction becomes dynamic and fun for followers. Let the friending begin.

For more information, purchase a copy of the book at Jossey-Bass or subscribe to our Page to Practice book summary library, which features our author interview. Learn more about Kanter and Fine’s services and books.

Leave a reply

Brandraising keeps an eye on the future

For all of our readers interested in smart communications, our featured book for May does a great job of keeping an eye on the future. Sarah Durham, author of Brandraising, includes some important statistics nonprofits should consider when leveraging their budgets for maximum results.

When it comes to resources for marketing, some nonprofits find themselves whispering in a world that’s been screaming marketing messages for decades, and it’s only getting louder and arguably more challenging as channels expand into the Internet.

And with smaller budgets, nonprofits cannot afford expensive mistakes; they must make their conservative budgets generate messages that are consistent and well researched. The important development efforts of a nonprofit organization are largely dependent on the success of the communications plan. That’s why it’s more important than ever for nonprofits to put some muscle into the planning process and make each message count.

Consider these factors Durham points out to readers:

A 2008 study found that 23 percent of all mobile users in the United States (58 million users) had been exposed to an advertising message in the past 30 days.

The average American home has the television on for seven hours a day—actual viewing is estimated at four and a half hours.

When radio, print and other traditional media are factored in with TV, the average American is estimated to spend 6.43 hours per day paying attention to media.

A 2006 survey found that 71 percent of all Americans are Internet users. (Even older adults—26 percent of 70 to 75 year olds are online.)

By January 2009, Facebook had over 68 million unique visitors visiting more than 1 billion times each month.

For more information about Brandraising, visit Sarah Durham’s site at or learn more about Page to Practice book summaries and summary store.

Image of Sarah Durham:

Leave a reply

Welcome! Please provide your log-in information below.
Forget your password?
Enter your email or user name and your log-in information will be sent to the email on file.