Meaningful Connections: Joining a Nonprofit Board Thanks to LinkedIn

March 27, 2013

Last year was a HUGE year for me. I got married, finished a big project at work, and became a licensed California Architect after 5 years of grueling exams. As the New Year approached, I mourned the loss of my big goals. I realized that I suddenly had a lot more time, and wanted to do something meaningful with it.

I’m sure this is when you expect me to say “LinkedIn to the rescue!” Well, that’s exactly what happened, but not quite the way you might imagine.

As a young professional, I had dutifully filled out my LinkedIn profile, thinking that it would come in handy as I sought to expand my professional network. I actually had no idea that LinkedIn could be a resource for nonprofit board opportunities. So when I received an InMail from Terrie Light, the Executive Director of the Berkeley Food and Housing Project, about their search for a new Board Member, I was pleasantly surprised. Little did she know I was actually looking for her (inadvertently)! I responded to Terrie and scheduled a time to meet.

Caroline On-site

As the day of our meeting drew closer, I began to get nervous. Was I cut out to be on the Board of Directors for such an amazing nonprofit? Why would they want an architect on their board anyway? The position sounded like it required many years of experience, something I didn’t have. I started to wonder if Terrie had the right person. I looked over my LinkedIn profile again to make sure that it was clear that I am a young professional. Could it be that Terrie really found my profile interesting?

When I met with Terrie, she explained that she was looking for a younger board member with lots of energy -- someone who could engage with the more experienced professionals on the board and add to their efforts. She also explained that one of their goals is to build a new building: a multi-use homeless shelter, transitional housing, clinic, and counseling center to serve their clients. An architect with my experience could help them as they issued an RFP, refined their building program, and interviewed architects. This was very exciting for me because I immediately saw it as a learning opportunity as well as something I was primed to do from past experience. I had worked for 7 years at an affordable housing architecture firm, and had also volunteered in public advocacy campaigns for similar types of projects in the past.

A few months later, after meeting with other board members and attending a board meeting, I was voted unanimously on the board: a match I could not have better engineered if I tried. As I begin my service on the board, I’m excited, honored, and grateful for my new meaningful connection.

Watch the video here to learn about the special ways the Berkeley Food and Housing Project has helped the community.

Are you interested in joining a nonprofit board? Fill out the Volunteer Experience and Causes section of your LinkedIn profile to make it easier for nonprofits to find you. If you’re a nonprofit looking to identify potential board members, learn more about Board Member Connect.

Editor’s Note: If LinkedIn has helped you transform your career or business, please share your story with us or write a post on LinkedIn with the hashtag #MyLinkedInStory. For more inspiration, check out more success stories.