I had the pleasure of talking with Mike Shelah recently about how small business owners can leverage groups on LinkedIn as a tool to expand their reach for both brand awareness and prospecting for ideal clients. That conversation resulted in my first guest blog post. Mike was kind enough to share some information that I am now passing onto you.
Check your LinkedIn inbox. Someone probably invited you to join a LinkedIn group recently. Maybe you have already joined some? I will tell you why you want to join groups and more importantly why joining the maximum of 50 is a smart strategy to maximize LinkedIn success.
WHAT IS A LINKEDIN GROUP?
LinkedIn groups are your number one platform to engage a specific audience. Each group has a specific theme or objective that can target a specific audience. Groups can be based on a region like a town, city state, zip code or area code. A group can focus on a common goal like professional development or public speaking. It often focuses in on a job type like Accountant or Lawyer, or a specific role within a company like CEO, CIO, CFO. Many groups focus on a common interest like an alumni association, fraternity or sorority, or a hobby. You can finds multiple groups based on just about any topic you want. LinkedIn Groups give you four concrete tools for your business.
In every LinkedIn group you can start a discussion or you can participate in a discussion. By asking thought provoking questions and sharing valuable content you can position yourself as a thought leader in your industry. Answering other peoples questions that you have expertise in, will also allow you to be viewed as a thought leader. Engage in three groups a day and you will be sure to touch each of your groups at least once a month.
Most groups allow you to promote yourself using the promotions button. Have a webinar? Promote it! Offering a new product? Promote it! Offering a special discount? You get the idea. I recommend keeping your promotions to 1-2 per month per group, or else, you simply fall into the “noise” category. I also recommend waiting to promote until you have engaged through discussions for 2-3 months and build some credibility.
If you are a solopreneur ready to add your first employee or a global business looking to add staff in key areas for your business, you can use the jobs tab on groups to focus on a specific audience. This is a FREE service that is separate from the LinkedIn jobs tab you see at the top of your LinkedIn profile.
As a rule, LinkedIn does NOT want you to connect with someone that you do not always know (why, is another blog for another day). If you want to engage someone that is not already a connections and you don’t know someone that can introduce you (also, another blog for another day) use the messaging feature. This allows you to contact up to 15 people every month that you share a group with. There is one qualifier to this. Some people set their settings to block getting messages from group members. But most people will allow fellow group members to contact them. Quick pro tip. Have a good reason that is valuable to the other person, before contacting them.
ARE YOU READY?
I gave you a bunch of ideas here. Step one: be strategic. Why are you joining these groups? What do you want to get out of them? Step Two: build your target list. If you are a job hunter or are looking for new customers, build a list of 10-20 companies that you want to engage. Determine the job title of the people you want to contact and then join groups that those people can be found in. If you join a group and it is not productive, leave! You can add and delete groups at any time. You can even build your own group.
Ammie’s Assignment: If you’re looking for creative ways to maximize LinkedIn aka a free resource, visit Mike’s website for your free LinkedIn report www.mikeshelah.com.