Well, as of this week that rumor has been squashed, at least in the short term, by LinkedIn.
Some people, including me, received a direct LinkedIn message from people in LinkedIn’s Product Marketing Department that started out like this:
“We’re currently working on making some changes to the LinkedIn Groups experience. Because you are an expert user, we wanted to give you some advance details on what’s coming. Groups is at the heart of what makes LinkedIn a trusted place for professionals to help and also support one another. So the changes we’re planning will make Groups a bigger part of the main LinkedIn experience.”
I am cautiously optimistic about this announcement. But in typical LinkedIn fashion, these changes will be rolled out over the coming months. Therefore, it may take a while for all of us to see the impact of these changes.
That being said, I still think the idea of like-minded individuals virtually hanging out with each other (the premise of LinkedIn Groups) is a winning idea.
So, let’s review some of the best practices relating to groups.
How to Find Information About Your Current LinkedIn Groups
Click the Work tab on your top LinkedIn toolbar and then select Groups. You will then be taken to what I refer to as your LinkedIn Groups home page, which includes loads of information about your current groups, including:
- Today’s highlights
- Your most active groups
- Listing of your current groups (under My Groups tab)
- Suggested groups you may want to join (under Discover tab)
How to Find Additional Groups that Are Right for You
LinkedIn currently has over three million groups, and you can join up to 100 at any one time. Here are some of the ways to uncover the best places to hang out.
1. In your top toolbar, use specific keywords in the search box. When the results are returned, click Groups in the sub-tab. Here are some ideas of the kinds of searches you may want to try:
- Schools you have attended
- Associations and groups you belong to
- Your city, state or region
- The industry yu work in
- Your customers’ industry (this is often an overlooked opportunity)
- Your hobbies or outside interests
- Certifications you have earned
- Types of software or other tools you use in your job
- Events you’ve attended or will be attending
2. Review the groups listed on the bottom of the profile of any person you’re already hanging out with or would like to hang out with.
Dos and Don’ts of LinkedIn Groups
After you’ve found the best places to hang out, become involved.
Each group has a different feel or culture, and it will be pretty obvious what type of activity is appropriate. However, here are some general do’s and don’ts to help improve your effectiveness when hanging out in groups.
Do This in Your Group
- Get involved in discussions where the right folks talk about the right topics. Of course, you’ll need to have expertise that will add value to the discussion.
- Invite fellow group members to join your network. If they’re a particularly good target, mention in your invitation that you’re in the same LinkedIn group or refer to a comment they made in a group discussion.
- If you’re looking for employment, check out the group’s Jobs tab.
- Start your own discussion, and be sure to follow the ongoing conversation. Before starting a discussion, however, check out the group’s rules, because some group managers have specifically outlawed links to your website or other things they feel are too self-promotional.
- Suggest taking the conversation offline when it’s appropriate.
- Send direct messages to members and share helpful information and/or resources.
Don’t Do this in Your Groups
- Spend most of your time in group discussions selling your products and services.
- Share any confidential information.
- Make hurtful, personal or overly negative comments in the discussions.
- Think that you have to get the daily or weekly LinkedIn email notifications regarding all the activities in all 100 groups you are in, which will be overwhelming. Instead, pick a few of your best groups, and follow those. Then check the others out when you have some extra time.
- Think less of group members who have decided they don’t want to receive direct messages from other group members.
- Hesitate to end your membership in a group if you feel you’re not getting any results, after all, there are usually several groups in the same space.
LinkedIn groups are a great way to start and grow new relationships that can lead to mutually beneficial business opportunities.
I hope you’ll use these ideas and the new optimism about LinkedIn groups to explore ways that groups can enhance your business and career.
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Power Formula.
About the Author: Wayne Breitbarth is the CEO of Power Formula LLC. An experienced businessman, speaker, and author, Wayne shares his passion for social media with 40,000+ business professionals. Through private business consulting and presentations to audiences including Inc. Magazine and also the American Marketing Association, Wayne makes LinkedIn simple. Wayne is the author of the best-selling book The Power Formula for LinkedIn Success. Connect with him on Twitter.