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Getting the most out of your LinkedIn group

Getting the most out of your LinkedIn group

November 28, 2011 by Gemma Went

Paper peopleLinkedIn groups are a superb place to connect and collaborate with existing communities that have a shared interest, raise your personal brand and create thought leadership. However, it’s not place to jump in feet first and sell your products or services. Let’s get that straight from the get go.

For me, LinkedIn is about building influential connections, but to do that you have to bring something to the group. Simply being there isn’t enough. Here are ten tips on getting the most out of your LinkedIn Group.

It all starts with listening

Once you’ve joined the group, browse the current discussions and listen. Digest what people are saying, how they’re saying it, how they interact with each other. This will give you insight into the group etiquette before you get stuck in. It will also give you an idea of what people are genuinely interested in. This insight can be hugely valuable.

Share and share alike

If you stumble upon some gems of knowledge within these discussions, like or share them with your audience. The person it came from will love you for it and your audience will appreciate a cracking piece of content. Promoting and connecting like this through LinkedIn can really help to build your own influence.

It’s networking Jim, but not as we know it

You know when you attend networking events or conferences and you work the room, easing yourself into conversations gently? Networking online is pretty much the same. Start with listening to current conversations and if you truly feel you can add something to it, ease yourself in. If you can’t, then stay out of the conversation until you have something interesting to say. And whatever you do, don’t try to sell your stuff. It won’t work.

Build authority

This follows on nicely from the previous point. Your aim is to build your authority and influence around your specialist subject, product or service. So create thought leadership by only commenting when you can add true value to the conversation and show people you’re an expert at what you do. This is the bit that sells by the way.

Take it outside

Once you’ve established a rapport with group members through discussions and you think there’s a valid reason to connect with them outside of LinkedIn, connect (you can use the group as your reason to do this). Tell them you love what they said about X and would like to chat about it further over the phone, skype or coffee. Or tell them that you have something that could help with the current issue they’ve been discussing and would love to talk to them about it. Just make sure your reason for connecting is relevant. There are enough spammers on LinkedIn, don’t become another one.

Take the lead

Once you’ve got the hang of how groups work and what the members are interested in, think about starting your own discussion. Again, make sure it’s relevant. Taking the lead in this way can give you great kudos when done right.

Give a little respect

If you disagree with people, debate but don't get aggressive. We all like a bit of passion, but there’s a fine line between passion and being offensive. Unfortunately because people are hiding behind laptops, computers and mobiles, they have a habit of speaking first and thinking second. Try to use an internal edit button and if you’re feeling angry, step away until you can objectively respond. It’s hard to come back from an explosive outburst in online communities, so remember your reputation is at stake here.

You’ve got to be in it to win it

Participating in groups can take time and if you’ve been involved in a discussion or started one, you need to check back and respond. The email settings can help you with this and will notify you when people respond, which should prompt you to return and engage.

Create word of mouth

The more you engage through the group, the more people will remember you. As you build your reputation and influence through the group other members will be more likely to recommend you or your products/services to other people. This, my friends, is gold dust.

Do not sell

Have I said this enough? OK, good.

Gemma Went is a Marketing Donut expert contributor and a marketing and social media consultant.

Comments

Great piece Gemma. To add an example to the discussion...

My client Precipice Design has seen real success with their meaning-centered design group on Linkedin. There is a sense within it that a community is forming, something I absolutely attibute this to your point on authority.

Meaning-centered design is a new area that PD lead on. VP's are invited to share and contribute to this proprietary thinking. It is inclusive. They ask the members to come on a journey with them around a clearly defined point of view. There is a benefit for the member to join in that they keep-up-to date on the newest design thinking. 

All of this was intentional, set out in the marketing strategy. Too often Linkedin Groups are set up as knee-jerk reaction without proper planning. Then it's just spam. 

Many people ask me if Linkedin can generate new business leads. Precipice have had Linkedin automatically suggest their group to desired prospects, propects they could never have got to over the phone. It's a digital form of recommendation, as once they've joined the group they can see who the members are (nearly 200 people, a large majority of which are Global VP's). And yes, they've had people contact them with with a brief.

Linkedin Groups work! 

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