If you’re looking to network, you’re most likely to turn to LinkedIn, the number one social media network connecting professionals. Today, LinkedIn users are more engaged than ever; however, it wasn’t always the case. LinkedIn has a come a long way! Remember when you first joined, and it was pretty much just a forum to make your resume visible to employers and your job postings searchable for recruitment? As you’ve grown with LinkedIn, you’ve seen the many great opportunities it’s come to offer.
As an active user, you probably take advantage of these opportunities every day. You’re frequently sharing updates, giving recommendations and endorsements, commenting on posts and networking through messaging. But there’s one opportunity you may be not be utilizing: LinkedIn groups.
Like some LinkedIn users, you might have joined a bunch of LinkedIn groups when you set up your profile and forgot all about them. Maybe you occasionally join one that looks interesting if you see someone else in your network has, but you never bother to check it out more than once. By now, you’ve joined maybe 20+ groups.
You may already know that with LinkedIn groups, your company or organization can keep in touch with members about current events and to discuss issues of common interest. But did you know that they’re also beneficial for boosting your business and attracting new clients? By continuously contributing to group discussions, you will successfully make connections with prospects, both businesses and consumers, while establishing yourself as an expert in your industry and promoting your company.
LinkedIn allows you to join up to 50 groups but there’s no need to join that many. Search and identify groups with members who are experts in your industry, but also ones with prospective clients/customers. We recommend joining a max of 5 groups that fit this criteria.
Before you begin searching for groups, identify your goals. Are you looking to connect with consumers, businesses or colleagues? Is promoting your business what you’re after or is it building relationships?
In order to find the right groups without doing too much digging, here are a few steps to take.
Perform a search in the Groups category based on keywords. If you’re looking for prospects, use the Advanced Search. You can filter by relationship, groups, location and industry.
Take note of whether or not the group is active with daily discussions and a minimum of 50 members.
When you see a group that interests you, click on it and read through the description. For example, if your business does social media marketing for non-profits, the group Social Media for Nonprofit Organizations may interest you for B2B relationships. This group is for anyone interested in how nonprofit organizations are utilizing social media. Members can post resources, share information and/or ask questions or seek advice.
Click on the Members tab and take a look at the Group Profile to see more information about the group and its members.
If the group is private, you will need to join and your request will be reviewed by the group manager. If the group is public, you can join without waiting to be accepted.
You can also search for groups from LinkedIn’s Groups You May Like page.
So now that you’ve found groups that are right for you, what’s next? It’s time to start connecting with members and get in on group discussions! The last thing you want to do is join a group and just visit from time to time without contributing. Whether connecting with colleagues, consumers or businesses, be an active member – let yourself be seen and heard.
Let’s review four creative ways to join Linkedin group discussions while boosting your business and building relationships (without over promoting or being too pushy).
1. Create and share content relevant to the group
The sole purpose of joining a LinkedIn group is to connect with members, and the best way to do this is by sharing information that will interest them. Maybe the group’s topic is interior design, and you’re a professional interior designer. If you have a blog that you update weekly (we hope you do!), share your latest posts when published. We recommend republishing the content on LinkedIn by writing a new post.
Another way to share your knowledge and establish your brand as an industry leader is to create how-to’s and guides. An easy-to-follow step-by-step guide will surely be helpful to members and show them that they can turn to you for assistance. inBLOOM created a free Checklist for Social Media Newbies with 14 tips that will help you to get started and track your marketing and networking efforts on social media. You must sign up to receive our guide, but you can share yours by publishing on LinkedIn or making it downloadable from your website.
Sharing your own content is an effective way to self-promote in the group without being so in-your-face about it. Rather than posting something like “Hey check out our products and services at this link,” sharing informational content will allow you to self-promote in a way that is natural and organic. This method is found to be much more effective.
Just as you do on your Facebook, Twitter and Google+ pages, you should also be sharing articles, infographics, etc. from other sources. Whatever articles interest you may also interest the group.
Here a visual artist shares a link to his free design resources for interior designers and decorators in the group ASID (American Society of Interior Designers).
2. Contribute to group discussions
If you are simply just visiting a group from time to time, maybe posting once in a while but not really commenting or participating in discussions, you’re not going to succeed with boosting your business and building relationships. According to LinkedIn, people who post or engage in group discussions get an average of 4 times as many profile views. And more profile views can lead to an increase in your network and possible inbound leads.
If someone posts a question, give an answer demonstrating your knowledge on the topic. Use your own experiences or resources for reference. Be professional but also friendly and relatable –you don’t want to sound like a know-it-all. Remember, you’re contributing to share your knowledge but also make connections and establish relationships with group members.
Encourage employees to contribute – it will make a bigger impact! When employees actively engage in group discussions, it builds your brand’s reputation. People will see that you’re all passionate about what you do and your company as a whole knows what it’s doing. You’ll also create a larger company presence and build industry awareness.
3. Connect with the group by asking questions
Sharing content and answering questions are fantastic ways to connect with members, but you know what’s even more fun? Asking questions! Of course, the questions you ask should be related to the topic of the group. Post content along with your question to give some insight, then see if it sparks any interest with comments. Even better, share an article or blog post written by you. This will establish your credibility, and also drive traffic to your website.
You don’t necessarily need to accompany your question with content though – I’ve seen great discussions with just a question. For example, a member of the group Social Media Marketing posted the question “Can you describe Social Media Marketing in one word?” and it received 3,605 comments.
You can even ask questions you need answers to or for feedback on something. Either way, you’re sure to get people talking and get yourself noticed. Feel free to jump right in the conversation, too!
Here a social media manager member in the Social Media Marketers group includes a link to her blog post to give insight to the question.
Here’s an example of an interior designer who simply needs advice. She reached out to the group ASID (American Society of Interior Designers) to get some feedback.
4. Continuously engage with the group
You don’t necessarily need to constantly keep tabs on your LinkedIn groups each day, but you should be continuously engaging in discussions with content, comments, questions and answers at least 2-3 times per week. If you’re not engaging several times weekly, it will be difficult to keep up with discussions and you’ll lose noticeability. You’ll also miss the chance to develop new business opportunities, as well as create and deepen connections.
Another reason to engage: LinkedIn will award you for your continuous contribution! LinkedIn has established contribution levels, a system that shows members how influential they are in a group. Top Contributors are group members who post the most interesting discussions and comments. On the right side of the group page you’ll see a list of those with this rank. You’ll also see Top Contributor underneath their names and titles when they post content.
Contribution levels are group specific and recalculated every day. To increase your contribution level, start interesting discussions and comment thoughtfully on other group members’ discussions. As people interact more with you, you’ll see your score go up. Your contribution level will go down if you are not active or your posts are promotional or inappropriate for the group.
Maintaining a presence on LinkedIn takes effort and time out of your busy schedule –time that you might not have. Hiring a social media manager could help you take advantage of all the networking opportunities LinkedIn has to offer you and your business. If you need assistance with maintaining your LinkedIn profile or have any questions about joining groups and contributing to discussions, comment on this blog and we’ll be in touch.