How Associations Can Use LinkedIn Groups To Grow MembershipThursday, April 16, 2015
LinkedIn has firmly established itself as the top social media site for professional networking. Everyone is there with a common goal—to make professional contacts that will advance their career.
So if you’re a trade association or a chamber of commerce, or any other member-based organization that serves the business community, LinkedIn is the perfect online network for reaching potential new members.
According to research by HubSpot, LinkedIn generates 3X more visitor-to-lead conversions than both Twitter and Facebook. Because LinkedIn boasts such amazing results, let’s take a look at how you can use one of the site’s most valuable tools—LinkedIn Groups—to network with potential new members.
What are LinkedIn Groups?
LinkedIn Groups allow people with a common professional interest to get together and have online discussions. The purpose of groups is to allow for the exchange of advice and wisdom among peers.
By creating and participating in groups related to your industry, you can easily identify and engage with potential new members for your association!
To learn more, check out LinkedIn Groups for Nonprofits: The Beginner's Guide.
How To Use LinkedIn Groups To Grow Membership
1) Create your own group
Create your own group and become a facilitator for conversation among people in your industry. For example, if you’re an association of medical professionals in North Carolina, you could create the North Carolina Medical Professionals group. If you’re a chamber of commerce, you could create a group for business leaders in your city.
2) Invite people to join
To get your group started, figure out which of your LinkedIn connections would be interested in joining, and send them an invitation. LinkedIn provides instructions here.
3) Facilitate conversation
Be active within your group, but not overbearing. Post discussion topics that will spark conversation, then sit back and allow group members to share their ideas. The more valuable the conversations, the more people will want to join your LinkedIn Group.
4) Promote your association
Occassionaly (I suggest no more than once a week), post something from your association’s website—an upcoming event, a current membership promotion, etc. Most likely, someone within your group will be interested in attending your event or becoming a member. (As the group owner, you can send one group announcement per week to members who have opted to receive email notifications.)
5) Join other groups
In addition to creating your own group, you should also join other relevant LinkedIn Groups where you can network with potential members. Here are a few tips for participating in groups:
- Introduce yourself. Tell the group who you are, what you do, and what you hope to gain out of joining the group. You’ll receive a warm welcome from active group members.
- Before you start posting, just listen. Get a feel for the group dynamic. Then, start joining in on conversations—"like" someone’s post, thank them for their advice, and provide your own ideas and perspectives.
- When you start posting your own discussions, make sure it’s not just self-promotion. Any blog posts or articles written by your association should be valuable to group members. Don’t be afraid to share third-party content that you think the group would find interesting.
Then, when the time is right, share your association’s upcoming event. If you’ve been a genuine and valuable resource to the group, people won’t see this as self-promotion, but as another great resource.
For professional associations, chambers of commerce, and all other member-based organizations that serve the business community, there is no social networking tool more valuable than LinkedIn Groups. It takes time to nurture and develop rapport, but it’s well worth the investment because you will grow your membership in the end.