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The past few weeks of The Summer of Social Media for Nonprofits have been spent focusing on establishing your presence on LinkedIn, from optimizing your personal profile to setting up your company page. You’ve also learned some strategies for connecting with other professionals. But now, in Week 6, it’s time to sink our teeth in even deeper. Because we’ve arrived at the very core of what makes LinkedIn such a valuable tool—LinkedIn Groups!
In his book Maximizing LinkedIn for Sales and Social Media Marketing, Neal Schaffer calls LinkedIn Groups a “virtual trade show.” It’s an apt metaphor—groups on LinkedIn are essentially online meeting places for members who work in similar industries and share similar interests and expertise. And just like a trade show, people show up to groups to learn from one another and make new business connections.
Imagine a trade show that’s open 24/7, 365 days a year; where there’s no cost to attend or exhibit; where there’s no need to plan for transportation, lodging or dining. Doesn’t that sound nice? That’s LinkedIn Groups.
There are more than 1.5 million groups on LinkedIn, and most fall into these categories:
Some groups are open to all LinkedIn users; others require that you be accepted into the group by the manager.
Any LinkedIn user can create his or her own group. (I’ll be writing an entire post on creating and managing your own groups in a couple of weeks, so stay tuned!)
All LinkedIn groups feature a discussion board, where members share and comment on content (articles and blog posts), bounce ideas off each other, and ask questions.
An extremely valuable activity on LinkedIn is engaging in discussions in LinkedIn Groups. If you become an active participant in group discussions, you’ll create many opportunities to meet and network with potential new members, donors and volunteers for your organization.
Approach LinkedIn Group discussions the way you would a trade show. Here are some ways in which you can engage in group discussions:
(Come back next week for a full post on strategies for participating in group discussions!)
As a LinkedIn member, you’re allowed to join up to 50 groups. I recommend taking advantage of as many of these 50 groups as you’re allowed, because you’ll be able to send personal messages to people if you’re in the same group as them (even if you aren’t connected and you don’t know them). But trying to participate in all 50 groups will be very difficult, so focus your efforts on the 5-10 groups you deem to be the most interesting and beneficial.
When determining which groups to join, remember to focus on your two “trade show” objectives:
With those two objectives in mind, I have listed some group suggestions for different types of nonprofit organizations:
Chambers of Commerce
Economic Development (EDCs)
Real Estate Associations & other trade associations
Once you have an idea of the types of groups you would like to join, use these tactics to find them:
1) Adjust your search to Group Search, and type in relevant keywords.
2) Use “AND” to search for groups catering to a specific location. For example, “Economic Development AND Boston” will provide you with a list of Boston-based groups pertaining to economic development.
3) Check out your connections’ group memberships. Message your connections and ask them for suggestions. (Bonus: This gives you an excuse to reach out and strike up a conversation!)
4) Use the Groups You May Like feature. In the top menu, hover over Interests and click Groups. On the right side of the page, you’ll see the group suggestions that were generated based on your profile information.
Make sure the groups you are joining are going to be beneficial. Here are some things to consider:
Come back next week for another post on LinkedIn Groups! Week 7 of the Summer of Social Media will focus on participating in LinkedIn Groups—commenting, liking, sharing content and sending private messages.
Icon courtesy of RMG Networks