More than half of all LinkedIn users belong to at least one (or more) of the site’s two million (and growing) LinkedIn groups. But many of these users simply join a few groups and call it a day. Without any follow-up or active participation, you’re missing out on the entire point of being included in B2B Networking LinkedIn groups.
Think of a LinkedIn group as a captive marketplace with your target audience already gathered into a single place. Groups are organized around industries, interests and ideas. Active LinkedIn users leverage groups to grow their business, find new leads, and network more efficiently.
Here are five short cuts to supercharge your B2B networking with LinkedIn groups:
- Join the right groups. Start by using a variety of keywords to narrow down your search. Options include your industry and geographic location. Stuck for ideas? Select the “groups” feature from the dropdown menu, leave the search bar empty and hit the blue “search” button. LinkedIn will auto-generate a list of top suggestions for you based on your profile data. Be strategic about which groups you join. Scrutinize how well managed the group and check the group’s stats (watch out for groups with an abundance of fake profiles). Note that LinkedIn limits your group membership to 100 groups at a single time. Once you reach 100, you’ll need to withdraw from one before you can join another.
- Listen first, engage second. Apply the same etiquette to LinkedIn group interactions that you would to an in-person networking event. No one likes the guy that interrupts a group discussion and starts talking all about himself. Watch how the group operates, which conversation threads are most common, and which members participate the most.
- Introduce yourself. Once you’ve got a feel for the group, introduce yourself and briefly mention what you’re most interested in learning from the group. For example, if you joined a group on social media best practices for small businesses, you might mention you’re a small business owner getting started with marketing on Instagram or Twitter. Then, say you’d like to learn more about what other members find works best or what tactics haven’t panned out. When people offer advice or reply to your comment, thank them for their suggestion and follow up with thoughtful questions.
- Focus on a few groups at a time. While it’s great to be a member of many different groups, being active in 50+ groups at once is simply not realistic. Once you’ve gotten a feel for the different groups that you’ve joined, hone your engagement in on one to two groups in each category (no more than 10 total). While you don’t have to participate in group conversations every day, aim to comment at least a few times per week.
- Be a contributor. Share fresh content that’s relevant and insightful. If you publish industry-related thought leadership pieces (e.g., a white paper or articles) it’s okay to occasionally share your own material. However, be sure you’re following a 10:1 ratio: at least 10 pieces of relevant, third-party content for every one promotional piece. Avoid blatant self-promotion by highlighting specific sections group members will find most relevant or interesting in advance and personalizing it to their needs.
LinkedIn groups are an important part of a well-rounded B2B networking strategy. Cast a wide net and then hone in on the groups that offer the greatest value. Introduce yourself, contribute consistently (several times per week), and share generously – as long as it’s not blatantly self-promotional material.