One of the most powerful areas of LinkedIn are the LinkedIn Groups. This is also one of the best kept secrets. It is not obvious when using LinkedIn just how powerful the groups can be. I use LinkedIn Groups to reach thousands of people every week.
The first step to getting the full value of LinkedIn Groups is to join the right groups. Here are 7 steps to follow to make sure you are in front of the right audience to market your business and network as a professional:
1. Choose your goal.
There are many reasons to use LinkedIn Groups to market your business. Knowing what your goal is will help you decide which types of groups you should be joining. The following are a sample of goals you may wish to make your own:
- Build an online reputation
- Meet key contacts in your field
- Get business and sell products
- Promote professional identity
2. Search for Groups in your prospects industry.
Joining groups in your industry will allow you to communicate directly with people from all around the country in your field. This can help you as you build an online reputation. You may be in a position to receive referrals from others in your industry in different parts of the country. For instance, if you are a real estate agent in the Dallas area, you may wish to join the group “Greater Dallas, Texas Real Estate Group”, which has 1,100 members.
Becoming active in your industry groups will also allow you to make key contacts in your field. You will be amazed how LinkedIn Groups can allow you to have direct contact with experts in your field with whom you might not otherwise have a connection.
3. Search for Groups in your geographic location.
If you are a business who sells products and services in one geographic location, then you are wise to find groups that are specifically for professionals in that location. For instance, if you are an insurance agent in Cleveland, Ohio, you might want to join the group “LinkedWorking Cleveland”, which is a group of 31,000 professionals from all industries in the Cleveland area.
Not only can you communicate in groups, but you can use them to find others in your area with whom you might want to connect.
4. Find the groups in which your prospects are members, and join the group.
Knowing who your prospects are will allow you to find out which groups they belong to, and join them. Let’s say there is a CEO of a local business with which you would like to build a relationship. Here is what you should do:
a. Find their profile on LinkedIn and see which groups they participate in.
b. Find one or two that would be appropriate for you to join, and do so.
c. Now become active in the group. They will see the discussions you start and discussions to which you contribute. They will begin to know who you are.
d. Ask for a connection with them. You now stand a higher chance they will accept your invitation.
5. Join large groups when possible.
The larger groups give you the opportunity to reach a wider audience with each discussion in which you participate. I have found that large groups have been very effective for getting a discussion started, and finding others to converse with. Remember, for every person who speaks up and contributes to a LinkedIn conversation, there are dozens more who are reading but remain silent. You wont always see the wide impact you are having, but trust me when I tell you, the numbers are there, especially in the larger groups. Take advantage of this and start discussions in larger groups.
6. Decide how many groups to join.
You are allowed to join 50 groups. Decide how much time you will spend using the groups. Allow as much time as you can because these are very valuable areas in which to participate. I belong to 50 because I know I can share blog articles with all 50 groups in just a few minutes. I choose about 10 a week to go in regularly and contribute to other discussions as I see areas in which I can contribute value. Decide how much time you can spend each day, then show up every day and participate.