LinkedIn groups are brilliant platforms for self-expression and networking. They can significantly boost your professional profile and as a result generate quality business leads. However, in order to utilise them effectively, you must think strategically and obey certain rules of online behaviour.
#1 Join right groups
The quantity of the groups available on LinkedIn will overwhelm you and the maximum you can join is 50. Start with those related to your industry to meet like-minded professionals, discover the latest trends, find out what your competitors are up to, and shine with your expertise in front of those seeking professional advice. You may also want to stretch further and join groups related to your vertical market. There you will be able to find out what your potential clients talk about, and what their concerns and needs are. If your business targets a particular location, you can join groups that gather business professionals in the area of your interest, for example Business 4 Basingstoke or Business in Berkshire. Defining your target market will help you define your group search criteria.
#2 Listen and participate
So, you’ve joined a number of groups and want to bombard their members with your brilliant blog posts to show off your expertise. You may as well want to hold your horses. The key to LinkedIn groups’ strategy is patience. Scan the on-going discussions and familiarise yourself with their nature and tone. Acknowledge interesting content and comments by liking them. Start commenting on other members’ posts, express your agreement and justify your disagreement. Your input should be relevant enough to provoke a dialogue.
#3 Start your own discussion
You have already established your presence in the group by commenting on others’ posts. Now it is your turn to start a discussion by posing a thought provoking question and sharing valuable content. Bear in mind that some groups don’t allow their members to post links to external sources. Nevertheless, they are still great places to be, as they tend to generate more of the actual discussions and opinion exchange. The majority of groups however are less restrictive and revolve around content sharing. Start with sharing interesting and informative articles and blogs provided by other well-known industry leaders. It will show that you are a resourceful and up-to-date professional, who is willing to research and share a piece of advice without promoting yourself.
#4 Share your own content
Having gained some recognition and influence through comments and sharing valuable content, it is now acceptable to share your own. Furthermore, be responsive. Acknowledge every comment and actively participate in the discussion you have started. Some of the members will disagree with your opinion and there is nothing worse than letting your views be shattered without even trying to argue your point. Building a dialogue on the other hand is very likely to develop further connection with the participants. I was surprised how many people reached out to me just because I discussed something with them in LinkedIn groups. I have considerably grown my LinkedIn network as a result of my activity in groups, and I know that I can always reach out to people I met this way.
#5 Don’t sell
This is a rule number one for any LinkedIn activity. Personally I always get annoyed when I see a cheeky sales pitch. LinkedIn groups are online communities, not market stalls. Any selling effort may put the group’s members off. I have witnessed it many times. Boost your credibility, establish yourself as an industry leader, build quality connections, and take it from there, not the other way around.
All in all, what I always keep in mind when embarking on any form of social media activity is this quote: “If your social media informs more often than it promotes, you’re on the right track. If it is deeply helpful rather than deeply promotional, you’re probably on a roll!” Dave Kerpen