Becoming a Linked In Power User – Part 5 – How LinkedIn Groups can help grow your business

In the previous parts of this series we have seen what an excellent sales,marketing and networking tool Linked In is.We also saw how it can really help your SEO.There is another key feature in Linked In we haven’t really touched on properly and that’s Linked In Groups.These are a are great way to build credibility and make new connections that can ultimately help grow your business.

So what are the key things you need to do with Linked In Groups to really help your business?

1.Join 5-10 Groups that are really relevant to you:

 

You can join up to 50 Linked In Groups.However,it’s difficult to gain traction in 50 Groups as well as find the time to participate in that many. I recommend that you select 5-10 Groups to spend your time on in order to get the most benefit out of your participation.

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2 Use Linked In Search to Find Relevant Groups to Join:

 

Linked In search is a really excellent tool and has been has been significantly enhanced over the years.It includes the ability to search for relevant Groups (based on your network) and search for discussion topics within open Groups.When searching for discussion topics search for Groups using keywords that would be a natural fit for you, based on your geographic location, industry, prospects, education history,community/charity organisations, hobbies and interests.

Try searching Linked In Groups with the keywords that actually describe your natural affinities. For example,type in the name of the college/university you attended to find potential alumni groups that exist on Linked In.

You can even type in hobbies and interests and get very specific search results and find groups with members who share a passion/hobby or interest and common interests are a really good way to start a relationship. For each Linked In Group displayed in search results, you have the option to view members in your network who belong to the Group, as well as “similar Groups.You can also ask your Linked In connections what they think about the Groups that they belong to.This gives you a solid excuse to contact them and to reach out and connect with your network.

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3.Don’t ignore the “Groups You May Like” Suggestions From Linked In:

 

The easiest way to navigate to the Groups You May Like feature is through your navigation menu bar under Groups. There you will see these options. (The Groups Directory option is the primary search area for Linked In Groups.),When you click on the Groups You May Like feature, Linked In will list suggested Groups for you to check out, based on your network connections, profile information, skills and expertise and existing Group memberships. You may also notice some Groups (or subgroups) on this list that you already belong to.

4.Evaluate the Quality of a Linked In Group:

 

Its very important that the Linked In Groups you are interested in joining are going to be well-run and high-quality.In some cases, you may just have to join the Group and spend some time there to make that determination. However, here are a few other ways to evaluate the Group for quality.Have a look at the Group managers, and are they engaged,well connected and visible? Also have a look at the Group rules if there aren’t any or they are not well written then it may mean the Group is not that well managed.Look the quality of discussions are there plenty of questions and dialogue? Beware of lots of promotional links or an abundance of “self-promotional” updates? Have a look at the stats of the Linked In Group you are interested in as well. Linked In stats measure things like member demographics, activity, how long the Group has been around etc.

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5.Don’t ignore Corporate-Sponsored Groups:

 

There are quite a few corporate-sponsored Groups on Linked In. This is where Linked In has officially partnered with brands or corporations to help them build robust Groups. Within each of these Groups, the organisation can drive member visits and discussion participation while also controlling the ad display space within the Group site. You can find examples of these if you include the word sponsored in your search. Some people might consciously avoid these as a forum for being sold to. In fact as we identified in Part 3 of this series (link) the sponsors recognises that subtlety is key when selling on Linked In. In fact corporate-sponsored Groups are very well-managed. The discussions tend to be in-depth with rich dialogue among members. These brands/corporations have a vested interest in making their Groups successful, and in every case there are dedicated Group managers in place who facilitate the dialogue and keep the Group spam-free.Also there is a lot that Corporate -Sponsored Groups can teach you if you plan to run your own Linked In Group or you’re thinking about starting one.

6.Stick to Linked In Group Participation Best Practises:

 

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In order to make Linked In Groups serve as authentic forums for discussions and dialogue, we should all do our part to maintain the integrity of the Groups we belong to. This will make the Linked In Group experience better for everyone. Additionally, Linked In is doing its part by helping Group managers fight promotional posts. If you are thinking about posting a discussion that contains the words me, my or I, don’t count on it showing up. Most likely it will end up under the Promotions tab, where it’s highly unlikely that anyone will see it. To successfully build influence in Linked In Groups, your best bet is to authentically engage in discussions and contribute real insights in your area of expertise.

Below are some best practises to remember as you find the right Groups to join and start engaging with members:

  • Don’t just drop into Groups and promote your products or services.
  • Don’t auto-post your blog articles into Linked In Groups. Instead, provide links to reputable sources of information within the context of discussions that can help members. This can include your blog articles if they truly serve that purpose.
  • Ask questions and provide thoughtful answers.
  • Contribute to ongoing discussions and new discussions consistently.
  • Share meaningful, helpful, interesting and reputable content.
  • Send invites to connect with mutual Group members only after you’ve spent some time participating in the Group. The best time to send the invitation is when you’ve interacted with members in a discussion.

The Linked In Group offer a great mix of functions and features that allow you and your business to have a distinctive presence on Linked In that will reach far beyond your immediate network of first degree connections.But you do need to use them carefully.

Hope this helps please get in touch here if you would like a free Linked In Training Needs Assessment.

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