LinkedIn is one of the most populated social networks online with more than 259 million monthly active users. The audience is full of career-minded business professionals invested in creating productive relationships and partnerships. In fact, LinkedIn is a 277 percent more effective tool for lead generation than Facebook and Twitter, according to a Hubspot study. One of the best ways for small business owners to connect with professionals in their industry is through LinkedIn Groups.
More than 2.1 million LinkedIn Groups exist online with daily discussions organized by moderators and engagement stemming from CEO’s to account managers across all industries. Joining a LinkedIn Group and actively contributing to the discussion leads to countless benefits for your small business, including:
- Seek or provide advice: LinkedIn Groups work as a forum for members to ask questions, share ideas and interact based on a particular topic, industry or geographic region. Here you can read or share unique experiences and points of view to help guide you and others in the right direction.
- Create deeper connections: It’s essential to contribute to current discussions on LinkedIn Groups. Once you’ve shared your thoughts or posted a question of your own, send invites to other members who responded.
- Elevate your social currency: LinkedIn Groups are a great medium to boost your credibility within the industry by showcasing your expertise in a variety of ways – sharing relevant blog posts, contributing to prominent industry group message boards or moderating a group of your own.
- Become inspired: LinkedIn Group forums can also help inspire you. Simply reading questions and responses from members can help influence a new idea or marketing strategy for your small business. That’s why it’s important to join multiple LinkedIn Groups allowing you to interact with a diverse range of professionals.
Now that you know the benefits of joining and participating in LinkedIn Groups, we’ll dive into the how to properly use this tool to your advantage and keep up with the latest trends, news, talent and events in your industry.
How to find the right LinkedIn Group
Searching for LinkedIn Groups is exceptionally easy but knowing what to search for can help narrow down relevant groups pertaining to your businesses’ needs. Use LinkedIn’s search tool to plug in keywords relating to your business or personal interests – small business, digital marketing, hiking or outdoors, for example. In Canada, you’ll find several groups centered on small business including, Go Small Business Canada, Small Business: The Globe and Mail and Canada Small Business Owners Network.
How to choose the right LinkedIn Group to join
Choosing a LinkedIn Group is like choosing a school or job – not every option is a great fit. You should be selective in your process for choosing what groups to spend your time with. Do so by researching who the group managers and top contributors are – their credibility? Do they share an excess of promotional items? What group rules have they established? After answering these questions, read into the dialogue of the group – what is being discussed? How many people are contributing? Are their insights valuable? The answers to all of these questions will help determine if joining this group will benefit your business. Look for groups with well-established rules or a code of conduct, this helps keep discussion relevant and helps weed out excessive self-promotion.
You should also consider joining corporate sponsored LinkedIn Groups. Although sponsored items on many social media networks are looked down upon, LinkedIn has partnered with a few brands and corporations to build robust groups in a variety of industries. Here are a few of the top sponsored LinkedIn Groups to consider:
Best practices for LinkedIn Group participation
Joining a LinkedIn Group is the first step. In order to receive any benefit from the group tool, you need to participate in discussion and follow-up with people you’ve interacted with to form a connection. Here are a few of the best practices when participating in LinkedIn Groups:
- Never automatically post your personal or company blogs. This is blatant self-promotion and can interrupt a string of thoughtful and relevant discussion. Instead, find a blog you’ve produced that answers a question posed by another group member. This shows you’re invested in contributing to the group and helps boost your overall credibility.
- Don’t answer every question. Sometimes people will post to a discussion topic or answer a question when they have nothing helpful to contribute. This form of pseudo online activity isn’t fooling anyone. Only post when you have something worthwhile, engaging or helpful to share.
- Follow-up with other members. If you’ve shared a noteworthy exchange with another group member on the discussion board, make sure to reach out and connect on LinkedIn. Connecting with other group members is a great way to increase your network and ultimately cultivate leads.
Make sure to check back with the Vistaprint blog for in-depth topics helping push your small business forward.