LinkedIn is long established as the social media platform for professionals and business opportunities. It is a specific online forum where people can connect with former university and work colleagues, managers, other professionals in their industry and seek out new job opportunities. For businesses and entrepreneurs, LinkedIn is prime “real estate” on the internet to promote their brand and reputation, and identify talents for hiring as well as potential business partners and qualified prospects.
Among the many opportunities offered by LinkedIn to build your reputation and authority as an expert in your niche, LinkedIn groups stand out as a means of building both reputation and a network of valuable connections. Groups are created for the sole purpose of giving specialists and professionals from a specific industry a virtual meeting room where they can ask questions, discuss the latest developments in their industry, find business and job opportunities, and connect with influencers and thought leaders.
In today’s article we will walk you through the basics of creating and growing a LinkedIn group of your own, which you can use as a platform for finding qualified leads, establishing solid business relationships and establishing your expert position.
1. Grow a Network Before You Start a Group
The first members of your newly created group will be your own connections. If you want your group to take off, it should start with at least a few dozens of members. By direct correlation, this means that you should have an established network of connections, with whom you have already interacted sufficiently to win their confidence and good will.
Thus, when you launch your group and send them invitation, they will be more likely to join it and recommend it to their own connections than if they were new connections, who are not still 100% ready to back your ideas and business.
2. Give Your Group a Specific Focus
If you start typing in the LinkedIn search bar the most typical words related to your business, your will discover thousands of groups which are addressed to that specific niche or industry. Some of them have thousands of members, others barely a hundred.
So, what makes a LinkedIn group popular? First of all it has a clear purpose, it covers a specific niche which other groups do not cover. If you simply create a group because it’s trendy to have one, then you won’t be able to create a mission statement for it and to moderate it properly. People will not find any serious reason to continue being members or the discussions are so general that they find absolutely no challenges and new information in taking part in them.
3. Focus on Quality Rather than Quantity of Members
Successful LinkedIn group have valuable members – top specialists, entrepreneurs, thought leaders who contribute to the group by sharing interesting articles, open engaging and thought provoking discussions and give pertinent answers to questions.
For this reason, as group administrator, you should be selective about the people who ask to join the group. As tempting as it may be to have a sudden surge in the number of members, if you notice that an applicant has nothing in common with your industry, you should not approve their membership.
4. Moderate Your Group Wisely
Some people only join groups to spam them with job ads or product promotions. Others are simply trying to “latch on” to industry leaders and start pushing for a better job or more recognition. These are toxic members to all groups and they should be removed, together with their inappropriate comments, from the group as soon as possible.
In order to make sure that your group stays clean of spam and focused on its topics you should enforce the rule of moderating posts by new members before they appear in the group page. Once they have passed a trial period, members can be allowed to post directly, without moderation. It is up to you to decide how long this trial period is.
5. Set up the Emailing Schedule Carefully
Nobody likes to be bombarded with emails and notifications after every single reply to a question they asked or comment they made. In setting up the emailing schedule to your group members, make sure that you offer them the freedom to opt in and out of receiving individual messages of daily or weekly digests of the most important topics discussed in the group.
Creating and moderating a LinkedIn group is a great responsibility. It shows your own capabilities as a manager and entrepreneur and it will reflect back on your business and professional reputation. Therefore, before you start your own group, join a few and pay attention towards the dynamics of those groups and the way in which they are run and moderated.