Linkedin continues to be the number one social network for business to business interaction and for authors it is a ripe breeding ground for new and valuable relationships.
However, once you complete your profile, most people struggle with how to effectively use this important business resource.
Today, I would like to talk about LinkedIn Groups – what they are and how to use them.
What They Are
LinkedIn groups are an online way to connect with people passionate about a particular topic. Groups are divided up by subject; social concerns, an educational focus, a business organization or a local networking resource.
When you search for groups you will find the following information in their brief blurb:
- Name of the group
- People the group focuses on
- Number of people in the group
- A brief description of the group
- Indication as to whether or not the group is open or closed (anyone can join or must be accepted)
- How active the group is
The LinkedIn group search results will provide the largest groups first that match your search requirements followed by smaller groups and/or sub groups of a larger fraction.
What Groups To Join
I subscribe by the philosophy that you should join three types of groups:
- Geographically relevant groups: groups in your town, county, region or state. Often these groups will have in person meetings that allow you to network with people you might not have met at the local chamber. This is also a great group to invite to your book launch events, speeches and book signings.
- Groups of people that are similar to you: if you are a non-fiction writer, entrepreneur, children’s author, poet or some other genre, look for groups with your peers. These are great groups for commiserating, sharing, questioning and encouraging like-minded people in your efforts.
- Groups where your ideal reader hangs out: these are groups where you can learn what the reader wants, what is important to them and connect with people interested in your writings.
Setting Up Your Group Participation
One of the biggest complaints from people who join groups is that once they join they start to get a ton of unwanted email. This is an easy fix. LinkedIn defaults your group participation so that you get status emails every day and you can change this.
Go to your LinkedIn account, click on the Interests tab at the top of the page and then Groups. Open the group you have just joined (or others you joined previously)
This is where you can determine how often, if ever, you want to receive emails from the group. Make sure you save your changes.
What to Post in the Group
Now that you have joined a few groups (by the way you can join up to 50) it is time to determine what you will post.
Groups are set up by discussions – you can start a discussion or participate in a discussion. Some groups will be dominated by sales pitches and very little discussion. If you find this is the case with a group you’ve joined – revisit your settings page and you can leave the group if you choose to.
For it is through discussions that you get to meet people, learn things and share your knowledge.
Now that isn’t to say you won’t want to offer up a sales message – when you publish your new book, win an award, appear on The Ellen Show; however, you want to find groups that offer a nice balance.
Start by joining discussions in progress. Share your thoughts, advice, best practices. Ask questions. Invite discussion and then be ready to interact. Imagine a cocktail party where everyone is enjoying a heated debate – this is the same, just online.
When you start a discussion, consider asking a question rather than making a statement. Questions are always great for getting the conversation going.
You may also want to post the link to one of your blog articles. Speaking of blogging – groups are a great way to get other people’s opinion on a topic.
Say you want to write an article about the impact of social media on our pre-teens. Go into the group that would be interested in that topic and start a discussion by saying that you are writing an article and would like their opinion. Then quote those that respond in your article!
Always remember to say thank you when people participate.
Bottom Line: Groups on LinkedIn are a great way to connect with other business people, potential readers and peers for exchanging information. If you like what someone is saying – you might also want to send them an invitation to connect and grow your personal network.