Update – 9/22/18 This article is out of date. Search for new content here and on my YouTube Channel.
Using LinkedIn Groups for Business Success
Each step so far has been important in order to get value from your use of LinkedIn. Building a Professional Profile, Connecting and Engaging are the precursors to this next step – Using LinkedIn Groups
As of December 21, 2013 there were 1,872,157 Groups on LinkedIn. The largest group at this time Job Openings, Job Leads and Job Connections had 1,538,966 members.
You can now join up to 100 LinkedIn Groups. However, it would be wise not to join 50 Groups. One reason is that you can’t effectively engage in too many groups. The other reason is that periodically you may find another LinkedIn Group to join and you will need to Leave another Group in order to join a new one.
BONUS – Manage your Group memberships regularly. Leave any Group that you are either not getting value from or not able to provide value to.
According to LinkedIn, “LinkedIn Groups provide a place for professionals in the same industry or with similar interests to share content, find answers, post and view jobs, make business contacts, and establish themselves as industry experts.”
I reviewed LinkedIn’s Group Help information and find it well written with lots of good information about using a group (as a Group Member and Creating your own Group (as a Group owner).
There are many benefits to joining LinkedIn Groups, including:
• Connect with other industry or interest professionals
• Find resources who can help you in your life, career, business or community
• Help others with your expertise and experiences in your industry
• Learn new ideas and philosophies relevant to the group(s)
• Nurture your relationship other Group Members
• Make new LinkedIn connections with Group Members
• BONUS – communicate directly with Group Members
• Showcase your expertise and experiences with Group Members
This article will explain how to:
• Find Groups that you should join
• How to Engage in a LinkedIn Group
• How to search for specific Group Members
• How to communicate directly with Group Members
Types of LinkedIn Groups
There are two primary types of LinkedIn Groups:
• There isn’t a padlock icon next to the group name.
• You must be a LinkedIn member to join.
• Discussions created before switching to an open group are archived and visible to group members only.
• Discussions created after switching to an open group are searchable and visible to anyone on the web.
• Discussions can be shared using social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook.
• Group managers have the option to allow LinkedIn members who aren’t group members to contribute.
Also referred to as Members Only Groups
• There’s a padlock icon next to the group name.
• You must be a LinkedIn member to join.
• Discussions won’t show up in search engine results.
• Discussions are visible to group members only.
• The group manager has the option to switch to an open group. This change can only be made once and cannot be undone. Members are notified if the group is switched to an open group.
The main difference is who can see the discussions. Members-only group discussions can only be seen by other group members. Open group discussions can be seen by anyone on the web and can be shared on other social networking platforms.
Finding LinkedIn Groups
There are three very good ways to search for LinkedIn Groups.
Searching with LinkedIn Search
Use the LinkedIn Search tool at the top of the page.
If you click on icon next to the Search box you can choose to search only for Groups.
Simply type the LinkedIn Group Name or a few key words relevant to the type of LinkedIn Group you want to search for.
The results will be all the LinkedIn Groups with those words in the Group Title, or LinkedIn Groups that the LinkedIn algorithms feel are relevant to your search.
Look at LinkedIn Groups your connections are in.
Often some of the best groups to join are groups that your current connections are already in. When viewing a connections LinkedIn profile, scroll down to the section titled “Groups” and take a look at what Groups they are in.
LinkedIn recommended Groups
LinkedIn will regularly recommend Groups for you to join based on your Profile, Industry, Connections and the other LinkedIn Groups you have joined. LinkedIn may make these Group recommendations to you via email as well as in the right column of the LinkedIn home page.
Evaluating LinkedIn Groups
There are a few criteria that you should review prior to joining a LinkedIn Group.
• Start by reviewing the type of content that is being shared on the Group Timeline. Make sure the discussions are relevant to you or of interest to you
• Look at the members of the Group who are in your LinkedIn network (1st and 2nd level connections). Are these people you trust and respect?
• Look at the “About this Group box”. How old is the group, What type of Group is it? Is there a relevant Website. There are no right or wrong answers here. Every LinkedIn group is a little bit different
• Are there Managers in the Group? Larger groups need managers to keep the group effective and SPAM free.
• Click on the i info icon (top right of group header next to member count) and view the Group Statistics. Review the Group Growth, demographics, and activity. Again, there are no right or wrong answers here. Just make sure the group is alive.
• Good LinkedIn Groups have Group Rules. If they are published, review the Group Rules so you know how to use the group.
If your review of the LinkedIn Group leads you to believe it may be a good group for you, Click on the Join button.
A good LinkedIn Group will have send you a Welcome email and a manager will review your request prior to allowing you to become a member.
Changing your LinkedIn Group settings
You can adjust your LinkedIn Group settings from the top header of each group you are in. Click on the i Icon and then on Your Settings in the Group information header.
The settings you can control include:
• Group Logo: Select to display the group logo on your profile.
• Contact Email: Select the email address to use when receiving communications from the group.
• Activity: Select to receive an email for each new discussion.
• Digest Email: Select to receive a digest email of all activity in this group.
• Announcements: Select to allow the group manager to send you an email.
• Member Messages: Select to allow members of the group to send you messages via LinkedIn.
Engaging in LinkedIn Groups
There are three ways to Engage in LinkedIn Groups
Start a LinkedIn Group Discussion
Once you join a Group you can start your own discussion(s). It’s important to only start a discussion in a LinkedIn Group that is relevant to the purpose of that Group.
LinkedIn Groups have three specific discussion types:
General Discussions – these discussions are focused on the overall message and topic that the group was setup for. Often this information is outlined in the Group Profile.
Job Discussions – these discussions are focused on job openings that are relevant to the Group and which may be of interest to the Group members.
Promotion Discussion – these discussions are focused on business promotional discussions that may be relevant to the Group Members. Often LinkedIn members use promotion discussions to announce seminars, webinars, or other services their organization or business provides.
You choose the Discussion Type when you start a discussion in a LinkedIn Group. If you do not see Job or Promotion as an option, the Group Administrator has decided to disable these discussion areas.
As with any other discussion, frequency of sharing is an important issue. Too often, and you may overwhelm your Group Members, too infrequently and you miss out on the opportunity to help others and create interest in who you are. I try to start a new discussion in my primary Groups no more than once a week.
Collaborate on a LinkedIn Group Discussion
Collaborating in LinkedIn Groups is a great way to build relationships and show your authority, expertise and experiences.
Collaborating on a discussion in a LinkedIn Group can consist of three different activities:
Like – Once you read an article on a LinkedIn Group, if you find it useful and/or interesting, Liking the article lets the author know you read it and appreciated them sharing it.
Commenting – If you find a relevant and/or interesting discussion in a LinkedIn Group, and after you’ve read it completely, add a comment to the discussion.
Share – The greatest way to collaborate on a discussion in a LinkedIn Group is to share it with others. Depending on the type of group (Open or Closed), you may be able to share the article outside of the Group.
Searching for People in LinkedIn Groups
Once you join a LinkedIn Group you can view the entire Group Membership. Clicking on the #of Members in the header of the Group. While viewing the group members there is a search box above in the member listing box. Type in keywords, member name or company name to search the Listing.
Communicating with Group Members
Normally you can only send a LinkedIn message to your 1st level connections. However, once you join a LinkedIn Group, you can send members of the group a LinkedIn message as well. You can only send these messages while in the Group page(s).
It’s important to follow this rule when sending a Group member message – Keep the conversation about the group or the group topic.
LinkedIn Group members can change their settings so that group members can not send them messages. Most people do not know how to do this or have decided that they are open to messages from members.
Connecting with Group Members
Making 1st level connections with LinkedIn Group members is another benefit of being in LinkedIn Groups. Regularly after I engage with a group member on a discussion, I’ll send them a LinkedIn Connection Request. This is another way to expand your personal network as well as to build relationships with LinkedIn Group members.
Make sure that when you send the LinkedIn Connection request you put a relevant and personal note in the message so that the member knows you are in a group together and that you want to connect for honest reasons.
Burriss Consulting provides the following services
LinkedIn Training & Coaching
Social Media Training
Career Transition Coaching
Contact us at (336) 283-6121 or TLBurriss@teddyburriss.com