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Well, LinkedIn’s Groups to be specific.
Groups are LinkedIn’s feature that lets members who share an interest or profession to gather online, have discussions and share information with each other. As a member, you can join as many as 50 groups.
Why would you want to join groups on LinkedIn? That’s where the gold is, my friends. By being active in groups, you can:
You can search for groups to join using a keyword, company name or school. LinkedIn will also suggest groups for you, based on your profession, location and popular groups shared by your connections.
Anyone can start a group on LinkedIn. However, that doesn’t mean that everyone should. Strong groups require constant care and feeding or they become virtual ghost towns.
The most successful groups are organized around an industry, a niche or a shared interest, not your company. LinkedIn guru Lewis Howes started several LinkedIn groups based on:
There are more than 500 LinkedIn groups for authors, but successful entrepreneur and bestselling author Jonathan Fields created the Tribal Author: Book Marketing & Author Enterprise-Building group to serve what he saw as an unmet need. A little more than a year later, the group has more than 400 members, boasting names that have graced many a New York Times bestseller list.
As a group manager, you have more visibility (and responsibility) than other group members. You can promote discussions by tagging them as “Manager’s Choice.” It’s also your job to seed the group’s interaction by starting discussions. Ask an insightful question, share an article, solicit opinions on industry announcements or conduct a poll.
The biggest complaint against LinkedIn’s groups is the sheer number that are well, worthless. Too many are packed with spammers, sleazy offers and self promoters. The best strategy for a group that adds value rather than clogs inboxes is to have clear rules of conduct for the members and to enforce them.
One of my favorite LinkedIn groups is Marketing Over Coffee. Started by marketers Christopher S. Penn and John Wall as a discussion group for fans of their weekly podcast of the same name, MOC is successful for two reasons:
1. The members, who are smart, generous and helpful. You can find advice or resources aplenty here.
2. The hypervigilant use of what manager Penn calls “the BanHammer.” With the members themselves policing group behavior, it keeps the discussions sparkling clean.
This week, pick three LinkedIn groups to join. (Or visit some that you’ve been neglecting.) Be active! Pop into the group 2 or 3 times during the week and join discussions. Give it a few weeks of honest effort, then, if it’s not right for you, move on.