You know LinkedIn — the professional, polished, responsible sibling of the social media sphere.
Considering the social network has 722 million+ members, you almost certainly already have a profile.
The stats about its effectiveness and usage are mind-boggling: for instance, three people are hired every minute on LinkedIn, and the network reports a 55% increase in conversations between connections just in the last quarter.
If you're anything like me, you read these stats and get the feeling you should be getting more out of your LinkedIn experience. But navigating a world of over 700 million individuals can seem pretty daunting – and, like any social network, there's plenty of spammy content from publishers clogging feeds with self-promotional materials.
You've probably seen these cringe-worthy posts. Things like: "I was rushing into a job interview, but stopped to help a woman collect a bunch of papers she'd dropped in the lobby. Turned out she was the hiring manager. I got the job on the spot. #karma"
But, unique amongst social media platforms, you can rest-assured that individuals show up on LinkedIn thinking about work. This means LinkedIn users are primed for social selling, and there are ample opportunities to find, connect, and build relationships with potential prospects on the network.
So, how do you focus in on a community of people from your industry or with shared interests to get the most out of this massive network? Enter: LinkedIn Groups.
Here, we're going to explore what LinkedIn Groups are, as well as LinkedIn Group best practices, and the most impressive Groups to join on the network. Let's dive in.
What are LinkedIn Groups?
LinkedIn Groups is a dedicated space for professionals to share expertise, seek advice, and build meaningful relationships. They've been around for a while, but, as the trend in social media moves towards more intentional, self-selected communities, their importance continues to grow.
Only members of a given group can view, post, or comment on conversations within that group. Groups can set their own admissions criteria and establish admins as gatekeepers.
By default, your Group affiliations show up at the bottom of your LinkedIn Profile under the 'Interests' section. You can edit the visibility for specific groups –– just one of the many ways to customize how your LinkedIn Profile represents your personal and professional brand.
Unlisted Groups don't appear in search results, and only fellow group members will see the group's information on your Profile. These more private communities require a direct link or admin invitation for access.
LinkedIn Groups Best Practices
To get the most out of LinkedIn Groups communities, be a good community member. Consider that your Golden Rule in this ecosystem. Let your work and your insight speak for itself –– avoiding blatant self-promotion or outright spam.
Contribute first – Bring value to the group. This builds trust and offers greater value to you long-term as well. Jumping in with an off-topic post or link to your own content is a great way to get banned or panned [/ignored].
Listen and Engage – Unless you're the Group's founder and creator, remember that you're joining an ongoing conversation. Take some time to listen and observe. Pay attention to topics, tone, and who the group recognizes as experts or authorities. Try liking and commenting on a few posts before you spout off some contrarian or opposing views.
Encourage discussion – Ask questions. Then listen and respond, seeking to further the conversation.
Keep it professional – People are on the platform for work, remember? If you wouldn't say it to a colleague or your boss in person, don't say it here.
Think before you link – LinkedIn is pretty clear about this. Any URL to commercial sites that try to sell a product or service will be reported and removed, as will those redirecting to inappropriate/spam-like content.
Pro-Tip: Want to capitalize on time you spend acclimating yourself to a LinkedIn Group and its particular community? Leadjet is a browser extension that helps salespeople work faster and more efficiently. Automatically add LinkedIn prospects in a single click to your CRM, without wasting time to enter the data manually.
With a tool like Leadjet, you're easing into a Group's community and meaningfully adding to your pipeline of high-quality prospects at the same time. Win-win.
Navigating LinkedIn Groups
You can navigate to LinkedIn Groups in several ways. Look for Groups directly in the Search bar, just as you would find connections, companies or anything else on LinkedIn.
You can also find them in the 'Work' grid on your Navigation bar within LinkedIn, or at linkedin.com/groups.
How to Find Groups on LinkedIn
Look for groups that match your industry and interests by searching for relevant titles, keywords, or phrases. For virtually any industry or job function, you'll find a number of LinkedIn Groups.
Evaluate Groups' descriptions, as well as connections from your network who are already members, to determine which Groups are the best fit for you.
LinkedIn Groups Directory
Browse the LinkedIn Groups Directory — accessible from the right navigation as well as the search drop-down in the upper left part of the LinkedIn user interface. Search by name, phrase, or keyword, and sift through results based on either the group name or a keyword in the group description.
How to Join Groups on LinkedIn
You can join a Group on LinkedIn by click "Request to Join" on a Group's home or profile page. Your request goes directly to the Group Admins, who evaluate your fit for the Group.
Or, if another connection invites you to join a group, simply 'Accept' on the invite from your inbox or notifications screens, as you would a standard Connection request.
Where are my Groups on LinkedIn?
LinkedIn Groups impact the appearance of your LinkedIn Profile in several ways. As mentioned, people looking at Groups can see which of their connections are already members. Additionally, the 'Interests' section at the bottom portion of your Profile displays a selection of information, including topics and experts you follow on LinkedIn, as well as Group memberships.
If you've been on LinkedIn for a while, you may have some outdated or inactive Group memberships. You can curate what displays on your Profile for others to see by leaving Groups that no longer interest you. But what if you want to continue receiving messages from certain Groups but don't want them to appear on your profile?
On the page listing all of your Group affiliations, click the three dots to the right of any Group listing and select "Update your settings":
On the linked sub-page, toggle "Display group on profile" to "No", which maintains your membership but hides it from the 'Interests' section of your profile. This ensures that only other members or people searching directly for that Group can potentially see your affiliation.
Now, you can stay connected to that high school alumni group or keep following a competitor's learning community without this information popping up for just anyone to see on your profile.
The above applies for Listed Groups. Unlisted Groups are not publicly searchable and will not appear on your profile, except to other people who are also members of the same group. Potential members can only see or access the Group after receiving an invitation from a current member or Admin.
It's also helpful to think beyond immediate or explicitly professional affiliations. Don't limit yourself to only joining groups directly related to your industry.
Alumni groups are often both particularly active and helpful – especially if you're trying to break into a new field or build relationships in a new region.
Seek out groups that your ideal customers belong to and be an active, engaged member of the groups you join to maximize potential for meaningful networking and social selling.
Explore LinkedIn Groups' potential to support your own goals by joining a couple of Groups today. Get started with one or two groups in your industry, and another based on where you went to school or a favorite personal interest.
Think of them as digital versions of groups and spaces you'd consider visiting offline, too. Begin observing the conversations, looking for ways to contribute, and assessing how you might fit into the Group's community. Good luck!
Originally published Jan 26, 2021 7:00:00 AM, updated January 26 2021