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LinkedIn groups are a great way for professionals to network, share information, ask questions and build their profile.

There are currently over 1.5 million LinkedIn groups covering a diverse range of topics.

Centred around themes such as industry, job function, professional areas or specialities, LinkedIn groups drive engagement between likeminded people.

Interacting in LinkedIn groups is a great way to build your profile and the profile of your business. Before jumping in, it is important to have a plan so you can effectively cut through the clutter and get the right return on investment.

Here are some things to consider when deciding to contribute to LinkedIn groups.

Identify your key area of expertise

LinkedIn is a great place to establish yourself as a thought leader. To do this well you should identify and define your niche area of expertise. There is little point commenting on everything, choose your key areas and stick to them.

Brainstorm a range of creative angles you can take on your topics. Prepare material or compile existing material your company has created. That way you will have content up your sleeve to post down the line.

Take the time to ensure you have valuable and engaging content as well as well considered and articulated opinions and ideas to share.

Choose the right groups

Once you have identified your key areas of expertise, search for related LinkedIn groups. Think outside of the box; for example find industry groups which may have an interest, though aren’t directly focussed, on your topic areas.

Look at group statistics. How large are they and how much engagement do they attract? Look at the profile of the group members, including their job role, location and industry. This information can be obtained by accessing the Group Statistics; available in a box on the bottom right hand corner of group pages.

Start by selecting a handful of LinkedIn groups and treading the water. See how much time you are investing, what works and what doesn’t work, before expanding your reach.

Start conversations

Posting discussions in LinkedIn groups is a great way to establish yourself as a thought leader and get noticed. It is important that what you post is well considered, engaging and valuable to other group members.

A great way to drive engagement is by framing your posts as questions. Ask the group what they think about a particular topic. Choose areas that relate to your area of expertise but are also timely and leverage current debates or public interest. Link to interesting articles or research including your own content.

The key thing to remember is your posts will be ignored if they don’t offer something of value to the group. Do not post a hard sales or product message. Being too promotional will immediately get you offside with other members. Rather, share your knowledge and opinions and invite others to do the same.

Engage with other members

Become an active and lively contributor on other people’s discussions. Join existing conversations and add your unique approach and opinions to the mix. Like and share discussions.

In turn, make sure when people post comments on your discussion threads you respond and take time to answer their questions.

People are grateful when their posts generate responses, so commenting is a great way to build relationships and get noticed.

Attract interest to your discussion

A great way to attract interest in a LinkedIn discussion is by sharing it across your other social media platforms. LinkedIn is a crowded space and getting cut through can be difficult without a little extra help.

This is also a great way to expand your reach outside of the LinkedIn network and attract new members to the group to engage with you.

Measure your success

It is essential you check in to see how activity is progressing in the groups you are a member of. Are people commenting on your discussions? Which of your posts have been the most popular and why? What else is of interest in these groups? By taking note of this information you will be better equipped to contribute effectively and encourage participation and engagement with you and your brand.

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Catriona Pollard

Catriona Pollard

Catriona Pollard is the founder and director of CP Communications, one of the most respected and innovative boutique PR and social media agencies. She is co-founder of Social Media Women, teaches a PR course she designed and writes the popular blog, Public Relations Sydney. Catriona regularly shares her expertise through articles and presentations to assist businesses grow and thrive by effectively using PR and social media. You can find Catriona on: Blog: www.PublicRelationsSydney.com.au Twitter: @catrionapollard Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/user/PublicRelationsTips Facebook: www.facebook.com/cpcommunications

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