LinkedIn Groups offer a great opportunity for networking with professionals and entrepreneurs in your industry and in your local area. An example of a local business group in the Dallas area is PBN.
It is an opportunity to find business partners, potential customers, clients or sales leads. They are also good way to get exposure for your business.
You can use LinkedIn Groups to brand yourself as a friendly, helpful expert in your niche.
Watch the video to see how you can use groups to make connections with people you meet through a LinkedIn Group.
LinkedIn lets you be a member of up to fifty groups at once but you should only join a handful that you can really interact with. You need to actively participate and it's impossible to devote this kind of time to more than a few.
A good strategy for getting started is to sign up for every relevant group for your business or niche that you can find. Check them out for a period of time and then quit the ones where there's little activity.
It is important to find groups where your target market is hanging out and to which you feel you can contribute.
What's next ? Join the groups you have found most relevant and once you are approved go in and see what is happening. Each group has a discussion, Promotions and Jobs area.
To start with go to the discussion area and get involved in reading and commenting on the discussions. Just like if you visit forums or blogs, try to offer value to other members of the group by sharing your expertise.
As with other social media channels be yourself and focus on being helpful. Read what other members are saying and respond naturally with your own ideas.
Spread the News
The Groups interface allows you to easily start discussions and share links to relevant information online. Whenever you find a news article, blog post or website that you think other group members would enjoy, share it and other group members can comment on it.
Always remember to put a call to action at the end of your post to encourage people to comment.
This is a good way to start a discussion. Every group is different and they all like different kinds of content so pay attention to how they respond to your shares.
Announce Events in LinkedIn Groups
Some groups let you make announcements to the group about upcoming events you're hosting or are involved with.
If you've got a webinar or offline event coming up, post about it and let everyone know. Make sure that the event is relevant and valuable to the group or else it will look spammy. Shameless self-promotion doesn't go over well on LinkedIn.
One of the purposes of LinkedIn groups is for members to share their ideas or thoughts. If you've got an idea that you feel might get some conversation going, start a discussion.
Another good way to get a discussion going is to ask questions to get other members' opinions.
Spend some time in your groups and get a feel for what kinds of topics the members like. You will get a good idea by the discussions that gets lots of comments.
LinkedIn has a feature that lets you conduct polls. Polls are a great way to get people's opinions on topics and then provoke conversation.
Other members can vote and like with one click. They can also add comments. This is a good way to participate and get yourself known as an active group member.
It's also a good way to learn more about your market or colleagues. Once you have the results of the poll you can use the results to start further discussions.
There are a few rules of etiquette to follow on LinkedIn groups. Of course, don't spam a group. It shouldn't need to be said, but lots of people do it. They employ blatant tactics to get backlinks and what it usually gets is a penalty.
Just like in other social media channels nobody wants to deal with somebody who just puts links up and about their business or opportunity.
As mentioned before, self-promotion doesn't fly. You need to remember why people use LinkedIn.
They're here to network, hang out, learn, and share ideas with like-minded professionals. They're not here to buy or check out promotional offers.
Don't fight with anyone. If a conversation becomes heated, take it out of the group comment thread and take it to your private email. Arguing with people on LinkedIn doesn't brand you as a helpful, agreeable, and friendly professional. In general, avoid being negative, which is really a rule of any social media channel.
One final tip – be proactive with LinkedIn groups. Don't wait for the daily or weekly newsletter to come into your email inbox. Get into a routine of visiting your groups daily to at least read and, if possible, join in the discussion or offer up some thought-provoking ideas.
If you're active and you consistently provide value, you'll be named a 'top influencer,' and you'll be featured along with others in LinkedIn's weekly newsletter.
Over to You
Finally, if you watched the video, then you now know you can use LinkedIn Groups to connect with people you don't have the email address for. When they accept you will get an email from LinkedIn along the lines of the picture to the right.
Do you participate in LinkedIn Groups? If you do how do you use them, leave a comment below. Also check out my post on growing your LinkedIn Profile.