How to promote your business using LinkedIn Groups

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Any self-respecting businessperson these days needs to appear on LinkedIn. Not only is it where headhunters and businesses begin any candidate search: but it is where prospective B2B clients, suppliers and stakeholders check out the people with whom they might want to associate.

Businesses need their own page: and that sets the tone and the outline content to be followed by all key directors, managers and executives.

LinkedIn Groups

Having got that far, too many people then either leave it there and expect people to come and find them: or they trawl a limited range of former school, college and business acquaintances in hopes of encouraging them to do business. Nothing wrong with that: but it is not nearly enough.

One of the great advantages of this social network is its LinkedIn Groups. These, like no others on the Net, bring together people in similar roles or in the same marketplace, to discuss matters of common interest. The 300 million users sign up for, on average, 7 Groups each. As at March 2013 there were 2.1 million Groups in existence.

LinkedIn will helpfully suggest Groups that you may want to join – and I urge you to check these out and select those that are of most relevance (use Group Statistics, available in each Group homepage, to see whether these are your kind of people). Then carry out LinkedIn searches using keywords, for others that could have business networking benefits.

I always counsel against the hard sell, or even any sell, when you are in a Group. Be generous with your advice and praise, share good content, and establish yourself as the sort of person that people might like to work with.

Social Media Training

Only One Boss

And the third and final part of the LinkedIn progression is the establishment of your own Group(s). This needs to come from a senior person who has the time or the support to manage the Group, because in creating it, he or she becomes the de facto Owner and Manager. Others can be delegated to be joint Managers and to be Moderators, but only the creator can be the Owner.

How do you create your Group? It is very easy. From your Homepage, see Interests at the top. From there, the progression is:

>Interests

>Groups

>Create a Group (left of page)

>Complete the form

>Choose Open or Members Only Group

An Open Group can be seen by anyone; they can share the information contained within it; and it is picked up by search engines.

A Members Only Group is invitation-only, the contributions stay within the Group, and it will not be seen by Google, Yahoo, Bing etc.

Obviously in some industries with very sensitive data you may want to keep the Group private. In most cases however, my advice is to open it up and not to fear the consequences: you can always edit inappropriate submissions, and delete discussions that you initiated. It is possible to convert from Members to Open, but that is irrevocable.

Digital Collaboration

Bang the Drum

Looking at some Groups in industries that I know, I see some classic invitations for parties to which nobody came. There is nothing sadder than a Group where you are the only member. Your work has only just begun – now you must publicise the Group’s existence. You should send out direct invitations to people you know within your industry and your customer/supplier databases. Then be sure to insert links to it from your corporate website, other social media, newsletters/emails, and blogs. Analyse the SEO on the Group information to make sure people can find you easily. You may also consider placing a LinkedIn Ad. (More: LinkedIn Ads and its importance in your social media campaign)

What is your goal in doing this? It must be to establish your position as the thought leader and (to use the American term) the ‘go-to’ source of reliable information. LinkedIn Groups can also be a great way of promoting your videos and other visual material – if you yearn for your output to go viral, seed the content via your Group members. They will spread the word.

As with all social network initiatives, this requires an informed and knowledgeable content manager/curator. If you feel that you need help in getting yourself or your nominated individuals up to the required level of expertise to fulfill this role, then Hannon Digital’s Social Media Training services are ready-made for the purpose.