LinkedIn Groups offer a great opportunity for networking with professionals in your industry and potential customers, clients or sales leads. They also get you good exposure for your business. You can use Groups to brand yourself as a friendly, helpful expert in your niche.
LinkedIn lets you join up to fifty groups, but you maywant to join a handful to start. You need to actively participate and it's impossible to devote this kind of time to more than a few at first. A good strategy for getting started is to sign up for every relevant group you can find and then quit the ones where there's little activity. Find groups where your target market is hanging out and to which you feel you can contribute.
What do you do once you're signed up? The easiest way to get involved is to read and comment. Just like forums or blogs, try to offer value to other members of the group by sharing your expertise. 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 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. 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.
Some groups let you make announcements to the group about upcoming events you're hosting. If you've got a webinar or offline event coming up, post about it and let everyone know. Make sure that it's 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. If you've got an idea that you feel might get some conversation going, start a discussion. You can also 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.