Getting Started with LinkedIn Groups

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The very core of social media lies in relationships: using online tools to communicate and build relationships with others. Similarly, one of the most effective strategies of your business is building relationships with other professionals, whether as partners or prospecitve clients. LinkedIn Groups are a powerful means of leveraging social media to build connections for your business — what could be better? Here is a quick guide to getting started with LinkedIn Groups and how they can help your business grow.

If Facebook is like an afternoon barbecue with friends, LinkedIn is the trade show where you swap business cards and smiles with everyone in your industry and beyond. And just like in any gathering you might find yourself chatting a bit longer with those of similar interest, LinkedIn has a great feature for connecting you with other professionals with things in common to you. If you’ve used any sort of social media before, the concept of groups shouldn’t be too much of a shock. LinkedIn Groups is a way of connecting with other business people in a meaninful way.

LinkedIn Groups consist of discussion threads, members lists, and messaging around common topics. Groups provide a good way of breaking into a larger market that’s already established, or to carve out your own corner niche. As Facebook is slowly phasing out many of their group features, LinkedIn Groups has become one of the best free resources for online conversations. And since groups can be either public or private to members only, they’re quickly becoming essential to online entrepreneurs.

So what sort of groups are there? There are LinkedIn Groups based on geography, interest,industry, purely for networking, or dozens of other topics to facilitate all types of networking. As you’re getting started with LinkedIn, I suggest joining a handful of groups to get a feel for how they work. Looking for a group that doesn’t yet exist? You can create your own group and tailor it to your niche. While some groups require membership approval (you’ll know if you see a padlock symbol next to the name), many others allow anyone interested to join. Since you’re already on LinkedIn you don’t have to sign up for anything, just click “join group” and you’re in!

[Pro Tip: When you sign up for a group it will automatically put you on all mailing lists for that group. To avoid your inbox overflowing, as soon as you join a group a link will pop up with the option to adjust your subscription settings. Digest emails are great ways of keeping tabs on all activity in the group, but for groups with thousands of members this can be overwhelming! Adjust your settings based on how closely you’d like to keep up with what’s going on in the group.]

Once you’ve joined a group, jump in and join the conversation! If you see a discussion thread that interests you, speak up and offer your two cents. As you’re first getting started in LinkedIn Groups, I highly recommended joining at least one or two dicussion thread (even if starting your own!) as soon as you join a group to make make your presence known. Typically discussion threads are about topics related to the group, but they might deviate a little and include things such as specific business projects someone might be looking for feedback on, a call for what type of person someone might be hoping to connect with, or general questions for the community.

Every group has a Members area that will allow you to see a full list of everyone else who is in that same group. You can send messages to other group members to connect with them individually.

How are you using LinkedIn Groups in your business? Have we connected on LinkedIn?

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