Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Power of Groups on LinkedIn

Part 1

On LinkedIn there are many nuances in the way that people use this social media platform. Some use LinkedIn to look for work, or to post jobs.  Others use it to display their online resume, connect to colleagues or look for connections that will translate into more work. One of the best ways to connect on LinkedIn is via the Groups Platform.

Joining a group on LinkedIn is similar to joining a networking group in your local town. When you first visit it may be by invitation from another member, a chance meeting of a member at another networking event, or learning about the group through some other channel. Chances are you don't know many people but slowly you will through interaction. Getting to know the members will take place via a one-to-one setting or in a larger social atmosphere. This is very similar to groups on LinkedIn. Often each group has an introduce yourself section. Make sure you take some time to learn about the groups before jumping in and posting.

The groups will have leaders that began the group and others that help patrol the posts. These people make sure that boundaries are not infringed upon. The groups are places to post your blogs, ask a question or answer a question. In this way you can learn about the members. If there is a particular member you would like to know better your can privately email them within LinkedIn and request a connection siting your similar group as the point of reference.

It is important to spend some time reading the posts to allow you to see the flavor of the group, understand the heart-beat if you will, and decide if you want to stay. I joined a large group of professional authors and editors because I wanted to learn from their collective wisdom. There were some notable and accomplished individuals in this group. After reading many posts and commenting on a few questions myself, I decided this group was not for me. The members spent half of their time correcting the punctuation and grammar of each of the posts and arguing about the nuances of the parts of speech the rest of us could care less about knowing. I kid you not.

Other smaller groups I have joined for information have been very informative. I have made some great friends, gained clients, and found wonderful radio show guests to interview. I do not post my interest in interviewing guests, but nonetheless I look for authors who would be a good fit for the format of my show within the group setting.

This may sound like it takes hours of time. At first it takes some time. I set up my email to send me a condensed weekly digest of the groups postings. These come into my inbox and I read them by scanning the topics of the reference, or opening the email and scanning the topics quickly. If something is of interest I click the link and it takes me directly to the discussion. Here I can read the posts and the comments or comment myself. I keep my time on the groups that I frequent to a minimum.

It took some research, but I now know where the groups with the most interaction for my chosen profession or niche market reside. I leave some groups and add some groups on occasion as time permits. This is a way to span the global or local market. I have joined Southwest Florida marketing groups on LinkedIn as well. At some point you may want to consider beginning your own. But, that is information for another article.