LinkedIn groups are as good as eating chocolates....LinkedIn groups are a great way of networking with your target audience, developing relationships and business…….in theory. How many people do you know that wonder how to get real value from their LinkedIn groups?

LinkedIn groups – the theory

LinkedIn provide a tool where people with similar interests can discuss issues. Groups are under the interest tab on your LinkedIn menu. Having joined  potentially interesting groups you listen, contribute and make new connections.

As with face to face networking, some of these connections develop and become stronger relationships, enabling you to connect with them off line. That’s when the referrals, collaborations or even sales become possible. The group doesn’t make the referral, you need to develop the relationships first (did you read the Excedia 5 level relationship model?).

LinkedIn groups – the reality

Groups can be frustrating:

  • Tumbleweed city: The groups where there seem to be endless discussions started, which go no further. Even when you respond to them, you get no reaction.
  • Babbling Bill: Some groups seem dominated by one or two people who babble, and babble annoying incessant rubbish. This can be made worse when babbling Bill also has troll tendencies and trashes any attempt at sensible conversation you make.
  • Technical Tim: Techie Tim loves to talk with his mates about that latest gadgets, protocols and stuff that bores you rigid. It’s like reading a technical support manual. Any attempt at conversation on something real gets knocked on the head when you’re told you need to add more layers of detail.
  • Covered in competitors: You’d love to join in the discussion, but you find that your competition is always there and you worry that they say better things than you?
  • Nobody’s interested in you. Good discussions going on, until you try and start one?

The trouble is that they can also be incredibly powerful at connecting with the right people, engaging and getting the message out there. Download our 8 page guide to getting leads from LinkedIn, it's free and waiting for you right now in our JoinedUp Networking toolkit. This toolkit is a resource library stuffed with goodies to help you get better results from your networking (email address required). Click here to download it.

Three reasons for being in a Group

Objectives are always important, knowing why you’re in a group and acting accordingly are part of your success strategy.

  • Professional interest (i.e. networking with others in your own profession, keeping up to date with hot topics etc). It doesn’t really generate leads and I control the time I spend in these groups.
  • Personal interest (e.g if there was a scuba diving group I’d chat there from time to time). Again, the probability of lead generation is low.
  • Potential clients are in the group. Try search terms for groups, or looking at your 2-3 best prospects and seeing what groups they’re in. Of course, this doesn’t say these will be great groups, but it can help.

Download our guide to Social Media strategy and get results from your social networking, it's free and waiting for you right now in our JoinedUp Networking toolkit. This toolkit is a resource library stuffed with goodies to help you get better results from your networking (email address required). Click here to download it.

6 Tips for using LinkedIn groups

  1. Social Media: Weapons of Mass Distraction.Objective and regularity. Know why you’re in the group, and be there regularly. Have a LinkedIn routine to help you get results and prevent the weapons of mass distraction destroying your day, you might also like to read 5 popular ways of building up trust and leads when networking online
  2. Actively comment: Don’t just post your own points, add to the discussion on other peoples posts, that way you get known, and more people are likely to get to understand you. Think about your personal rules for commenting and stick to them.
  3. Post better titles. It’s really easy to spend ages crafting a question for a group (that might lead to a really useful blog post) and then spend 20 seconds on the title. If the title isn’t engaging all your effort is wasted, spend as long on the title as on the post.
  4. Competitors: It’s easy to be discouraged, especially when they seem to come up with better thoughts that you. Social Media allows you to know a person and their expertise, so ensure your personality shows positively. That’s what will attract people to you, rather than a competitor.
  5. Drop out. If a group doesn’t work for you, try harder for a short while, then leave the group, move on. Don’t worry, just move on, there are hundreds more. If the group is full of Techie Tim, or babbling Bill and their cronies, spend the time in your Linked daily routine somewhere more useful!
  6. Your help please: I’d love your ideas on dealing with business owners that have troll like tendencies in groups, the ones that don’t actually go so far as writing things that are offensive, but you find off-putting nonetheless.

I’ve seen lots of people develop good contacts by using groups, but remember the group is only the beginning. They only create the contact; you need a plan for nurturing the good ones.

Jon BakerWritten by Jon Baker The 5-50 Coach. I help professionals grow their firms from 5 to 50 employees, sustainably, profitably and still have fun. Networking is a key part of getting great results in small firms. If you want great networking tips sent to your desk once a month, click here and I will start sending them to you, so you can make a real difference to your referrals.