social-media-userA version of this article originally appeared on the AdMarco blog. You can view it here.

This is a warning and some sage advice from someone who has been burned by making some of the mistakes listed below. The industry is rife with consultants offering best practices on LinkedIn and selling services around helping you get started and leveraging the power of the network.

This is not one of those articles and I have nothing to sell. I offer this free advice so that you can learn from my experience. Rather, this article will be of interest to anyone using LinkedIn Groups -- if you can find the ones that are well-controlled and where people you wish to influence are participating in the dialogue, you're in business.

The fact that the HubSpot-LinkedIn combination is so powerful and convenient comes with some warnings and a few things to consider when you start up. Here are several simple rules to follow:

1) It’s okay to be a member of 40 groups, but as a rule, your blog posts will be relevant to only a handful of groups. Therefore, vary what you post according to the audience with highest interest and relevance.

2) Quality, not quantity, is the rule. Three to five groups that you focus on for a few minutes each per day trumps 40 that you drive-by once a week. Think about it: What buyer is going to spend time on more than two or three groups? Your job is to figure out which ones they are.

3) Don't post to Alumni groups, unless it's relevant to the group. For instance, if you worked at MicroStrategy and you post a story about your experience or a learning from working there.

4) Whenever you post something to a group, you must add a comment, challenge, or reason why you are posting it, so that it relates to the "WIIFM" (what's in it for me) antenna of group members.

5) Many LinkedIn groups are very spammy, which is much noisier than just a couple of years ago, so being a member of a 40,000-member open group may not give you as much clout as a 500-member group with the right audience, which is closed and well-controlled by moderators.

6) The best way to engage on LinkedIn when getting started is to read and comment on others' posts and ask questions. Get the feel for the group before you post anything.

7) Many LinkedIn groups are forum-only groups and don't allow blogs or links. If you have something to ask, they can be very useful, and if your insights are helpful, people will check your profile and may visit your website. If you post blog articles in some of these groups, you will get a warning, and if you reoffend, you will be ejected.

8) First base on LinkedIn is to build reputation as someone with something of value to say with the audience and group administrators, not to auto-post everything you publish to your groups, unless it’s your own group. 

9) It's perfectly okay to post other people's stuff in groups provided it's relevant and gives you an opportunity to add a comment that shows insight and will be of value to the group.

10) Beware of trolls. Certain groups have trolls that enjoy baiting, denigrating, criticizing, and generally making a**holes of themselves. Do not engage them, and when it happens to you, flag it up to group owners.

 

I have been in LinkedIn jail for over a year, as I made the mistake of auto-publishing into too many groups. Very few groups allow me to publish my stuff (even if it's fantastic) without it going into a moderation queue -- from which it never leaves, unless I contact the group owner and ask them to publish it, which is a pain.

Mark Gibson is the founder of Advanced Marketing Concepts and Vice President of WittyParrot, a disruptive content distribution platform for responsive sales enablement. He is an experienced sales and marketing consultant, author and entrepreneur, with more than 30 years of international sales, marketing, and consulting success.

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Originally published Nov 11, 2013 2:00:00 PM, updated July 28 2017

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Social Selling