Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Five Easy Ways to Make the Most of Your LinkedIn Group

LinkedIn is one of the “must have” social media sites for professionals.  It’s where everyone posts their online resume’ and connects with others in the business world.  The question for newcomers is how do I take advantage of it?  There are many ways to use LinkedIn, but one of the best ways is to participate in the many groups that are available.

For those of you interested in joining a group on LinkedIn, it’s really very easy.  Go to the groups tab and then click on groups directory.  You can search through LinkedIn for almost any keyword you want.  If you are a human resources professional, insert the words “human resources” into the search box.  Over 50 pages of groups with the words “human resources” in either the title or description will pop up. 

There is something for everyone in the LinkedIn groups.  No matter what your interest, there is probably already a group of professionals that are talking about this topic through a group.  Keep your eyes open for groups that people you are connected to are members of.  You may see something that grabs your attention.

What are the ways that we can use LinkedIn groups to enhance and improve our business?  After all, isn’t that one of the reasons that we join LinkedIn in the first place?

1. The first way to take advantage of the LinkedIn groups is as an educational experience.  If you really pay attention to the discussions that occur within the groups, you can learn a lot.  I have taken classes online that I found through groups of which I am a member.  Webinars are offered everywhere about most every topic you can imagine, all touted through groups.  Read the discussion notifications to see what topics they are discussing that you might learn from.

2. You can grow your network with other people that have a common interest.  If you are a rabid Pittsburgh Steelers fan, then there are groups for that-three whole pages of them.  If you own a small business in the Pittsburgh area, then the Pittsburgh Small Business Owners group may be for you.  Search for whatever topic or type of people that you would like to be associated with.  Go into the groups’ tab and search in the groups’ directory.  Currently there are over 656,400 groups to choose from. 

3. The next way is to enhance your brand.  If you are an active member, which is always the best, other professionals will see you and your brand.  If you participate in discussions in a thoughtful, helpful way, others will see you as a thought leader.  Social media isn’t for selling, it is for getting to know others better.  LinkedIn groups are a perfect way to accomplish this and expand your brand.

4. Groups allow you to contact people as if they are a first-degree contact.  If you are involved in LinkedIn, you know that the only people you can contact directly by email are people that you are connected to, unless you are in a group with them.  Joining a group expands your reach to possible new hires, experts and prospects. 

5. One of the most important reasons for joining a group is to show that you are an expert in your field.  If you are active in the group, you can help other members by answering questions they need help with.  This is what social media is all about getting to know people better.

Join as many LinkedIn groups as you can.  There is a limit of 50 right now, but that certainly gives the average person a great deal of opportunity to be educated and connected with other like-minded individuals.

What other ways can we take advantage of the LinkedIn groups?  I want to hear your ideas.  Please comment below and I will answer. 
Cindy Neky

twitter: @mktgpathways

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