LinkedIn for beginners: Joining groups

Posted by Faye on January 20, 2012 in The Social Networks |

Expanding your network through LinkedIn groups

Let’s recap what we’ve done so far on LinkedIn. We’ve created a profile, added some applications, and invited others to connect. Now it’s time to take networking to the next level by joining groups.

Joining a group is a good way to interact with other professionals with whom you share a common interest. If you look at LinkedIn as a giant daily networking conference, groups are the breakout sessions. But unlike the offline version of the breakout sessions, joining a LinkedIn group gives you an opportunity to be the speaker at any time.

Many LinkedIn groups are online extensions of their professional organizations. For example I belong to the Advertising Federation of Columbus, and the Columbus American Marketing Association, both of which have LinkedIn groups. There are more than one million groups on LinkedIn, and you are sure to find at least one group that matches your interests.

5 benefits of joining a LinkedIn group

  • Meet others with similar interests. Groups offer a smaller, more intimate setting for interacting with like-minded professionals.

    Top Influencers This Week (click for larger view)

  • Share your expertise. You have the opportunity to either start a discussion or participate in existing discussions. Every week LinkedIn posts the “Top Influencers” in each group — those individuals who have contributed the most to the discussions. Consider it the group’s “brag board.” Initiate a thought-provoking discussion, engage in others’ discussions, and watch your influence cred rise to the top.
  • Learn from others. Just because you’re sharing your expertise with the group doesn’t mean you know it all. You can learn a lot from your peers in the group just by being a lurker. Or ask a question, get others’ opinions; maybe take a poll. You’re surrounded by experts and professionals — take advantage of the collective knowledge in your group.
  • Job-seeking/recruiting. Are you looking to hire someone in your industry? Here is a pool of potential candidates at your disposal! Most groups have a jobs tab where people can post their jobs. (Make sure you read the group’s rules about posting jobs first). Looking for a job? You might find a job posted in your group that may not be posted in the usual online job boards. Many recruiters join groups for the sole purpose of finding and hiring talent. Even though there may be no jobs posted in your group at the time you’re looking for one, experts say the best jobs are found through networking.
  • New business. Creating a relationship is the first step in generating new business. And there are those who do it very well on LinkedIn. Join groups where your target customers are — the more you spend time interacting with group members, the more you will build these relationships. Ann Handley offers some tips on generating leads on LinkedIn in this article.

An added bonus of joining groups is that you might end up with new friends and connections to add to your network. Take some time to research a few groups on LinkedIn, and join those that appeal to your professional and/or personal interests.

How are you using LinkedIn’s groups? Do you have a success story? Please feel free to share it here!

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