A Macro Guide to LinkedIn Groups
LinkedIn Groups are dead.
LinkedIn Groups are pointless.
Wrong. Just plain wrong.
LinkedIn Groups are highly under-utilised and when you review them or join them, you might come across many groups with huge member count but negligible engagement.
Don’t lose heart and take a closer look.
It won’t be long before you realise the high frequency of specific requests and queries by group members that are almost impossible to find on your LinkedIn Feed. You may even come across a recent post seeking financial advice in a Small Businesses Group, just sitting there with zero engagement. Then there are some highly active groups that help you find audiences of decision makers, open networkers and referrals within a short span of time.
Either way, LinkedIn Groups can become a valuable part of your LinkedIn Strategy because:
1. They can grant you InMails access to group members who are beyond your LinkedIn Network. Even as a basic user, you can send 15 Free InMails every month.
2. The list of members is a useful database of decision makers, industry peers and/or potential customers.
3. You can pursue targeted engagement with a select audience.
4. Unlike LinkedIn posts and articles, your keyword search also finds you results in the comments section.
5. You can expand your network quickly since group members are identified by LinkedIn as your 2nd degree connections.
How to Select a Group?
LinkedIn Groups are categorised as Listed Groups i.e. searchable on LinkedIn, and unlisted groups i.e. unsearchable private groups for consenting invitees. Indeed, there are a few searchable unlisted groups.
LinkedIn suggests a huge number of listed groups for every keyword search that uses a Group filter. Listed groups are either open groups with a “join” option or closed groups with a “request to join” option. There is no harm in trying a few high membership groups and mining for prospects and engagement. These groups attract a lot of new and unassuming users too. . Eventually, you can build a following from your group connections onto your profile and company page.
When it comes to closed groups, it is a good practice to evaluate the following:
1. The relevance to your business goals. Do you want to network with your peers from the same industry or do you wish to target prospects in a particular region or profession, including entry level professionals, executives, departmental heads and entrepreneurs. While joining a peer group may not guarantee any business, it is very effective in building your brand as an expert in your field, perhaps even a thought leader.
2. The description and rules of the group. A clear description of the group defines focus and the rules can help you assess their moderation policy and control over spam and irrelevant content.
3. The profile and activities of the Group Admin or admins. It helps you gauge their network, ability to moderate content and grow their membership.
4. The number of group members and their activities on the group. Ask yourself, can you contribute to this group and start a conversation? If yes, join the group and start interacting right away.
5. The feedback of your existing network who also happen to be members of that particular group.
A more targeted approach could involve joining the groups which have your prospects as members. When you visit a LinkedIn profile, you can also view their LinkedIn groups. After skimming through 5 to 10 profiles every day, you will manage to aggregate a list of groups that you can join at the end of the week.
How to Utilise the Group?
Just like your normal LinkedIn Feed, you must scroll and seek opportunities to build a conversation. You are here to:
1. Generate leads by answering their query or engaging a member.
2. Target foreseeable prospects by building a community of likeminded people within the group.
3. Improve your Social Selling Index and grow the following of your profile and your Company Page.
Some group admins may ask you to introduce yourself. The best way to respond is to select elements of your profile that align with the Group objective and present the same in a concise manner. You would like to project yourself as a subject matter expert in one group while amplifying your decision making role in another. This will not only give your introduction some context, but also drive up your profile views. If a member is curious enough to visit your page, you may have a better chance at initiating a conversation.
Unlike Pulse, introduction of an external link does not harm your post distribution and you can embed your website link or an upcoming event in every submission. Try not to self-promote too much and submit useful content in compliance with the group rules. You can also use the LinkedIn Plugin to create a Follow Button for your Company Page and insert it in your website and all your LinkedIn Posts, especially your group posts.
Make an admin your friend and consider a quid pro quo of showing his group on your Company Page. While the admin can introduce you to members and save you on your InMails quota, or inform you about content that never gets published on the group page but has great relevance to you. You can show as many as 3 LinkedIn Groups on your Company Page.
The single most identifiable USP of a LinkedIn Group is the fact that you can send 15 InMails every month without upgrading to Premium account. Just be careful about using this feature since many users over use it and the targeted group member may start seeing your communication as spam. You may wonder why you need to make all the effort of joining groups to send InMails when you can send a personalized invite. The answer to this lies in the fact that InMails show up in the user’s inbox as well as his/her e-mail alerts, while a personalized invite is a part of a connection request. A combination of a well-crafted InMails, an introduction by the admin and relevant group activity can motivate your prospect to respond to you.
LinkedIn Groups may appear dull and inactive but they carry a higher density of business prospects and their specific requirements. Once you establish yourself as a regular contributor, LinkedIn Groups emerge as a good source of qualified leads.
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