How many LinkedIn groups should you be active in? None? One? 10? 50?
A fully-optimized profile is the first step to getting more followers and expanding your network on LinkedIn, but regular activity and engaging with followers is essential to start raising your level of influence on the platform.
That’s where joining LinkedIn groups and participating in discussions can play an important part in your growth.
Here are four ways that groups can help you…
- All your prospects together in one place
If you sell frog food and someone told you that you could get in front of a large group of hungry frogs simply by clicking in a few of the right places online, why wouldn’t you jump at the chance?
That’s essentially the opportunity that LinkedIn groups can provide – frogs excepted.
Providing you have clearly defined your target audience, identifying and joining appropriate groups where your prospects hang out shouldn’t be difficult.
NOTE: find groups with prospects – not just peers. We see many business leaders joining only peer groups. This might be great for general discussions about the state of your industry or for finding and engaging with other influencers (which may be a good strategy for building credibility and extending your network) – but it does little for generating leads for your business. It’s one of the main reasons why some business leaders claim to get nothing out of LinkedIn – because they are spending too much time engaging with the wrong people.
We are marketers, helping businesses increase their influence online. So while we do join some general marketing groups like this…
…we focus on joining groups where our prospects hang out (small and medium business leaders) like these:
You will only generate leads if you start engaging with prospects – so focus on finding and joining groups where your target audience can be found.
- Demonstrating expertise
Groups provide an excellent opportunity to generate your knowledge and expertise in your field.
Not by forcing your views and opinions on other members but by providing measured, considered responses to questions and problems that are raised.
You’re in this for the long haul. You don’t build influence overnight – but the more you are able to provide ideas and solutions for the issues discussed, the more you become the ‘go-to’ resource when your prospects are ready to buy.
Note that ‘demonstrating expertise’ does not mean posting an endless series of links to your content (and especially not your services). Don’t jump in and try to sell at this stage – groups are NOT the right forum to do that. Use your status feed for posting useful articles etc.
However, if you have published content that can add value or insight to a discussion and may help members with a solution, it makes sense to offer a link to it. Giving information away for free is a great way to generate goodwill.
Initially focus on contributing to the most popular discussions as this should be where you can have the greatest exposure and influence.
- Building rapport and developing relationships
The smartest LinkedIn marketers invest the time in the platform to build relationships – as they know that this is the main ‘currency’ on LinkedIn that will create leads.
Nothing’s changed in this sense – sales have always been about relationships. The only thing that’s changed is how you build those relationships.
Instead of meeting at an exhibition booth or in a hotel lobby you’re now doing it in a group discussion forum on the leading social network for professionals.
The actual sale will be further down the line and will usually be offline; but engaging in group discussion is partly where you do the groundwork, building the rapport and the relationships with connections before converting them into prospects a little later.
- Demonstrating a high engagement level
Checking in to LinkedIn once a week just to see who’s checked out your profile is not the way to raise influence.
This takes activity and engagement. You need to demonstrate to your target audience that you are active on the platform –and participating in groups daily helps you do that.
Group interactions work with other LinkedIn activity such as status updates, posting articles, commenting and liking the posts of others in your network. Note Andrew’s high level of activity on his feed:
You can also help to promote the content of others in your network using the @mention feature and offer endorsements and recommendations – generating more goodwill and showing everyone out there that you’re alive and kicking.
You can join up to 50 groups on LinkedIn. Start by focusing on finding a few active, well-moderated groups that contain your target audience and which you can make a difference in.
Contribute to a few discussions that you can add value to; then eventually start your own (relevant) discussions.
Achieving influence on LinkedIn takes time. You need to start with right attitude – that of adding value NOT selling.
Then you need to invest the time, energy and effort into building the relationships that count. This will gradually build your influence.
Groups are an important element of this, but you should consider your contributions there as part of a consistent daily practice of activity – rather than a single, one-dimensional campaign.