Now more than ever, LinkedIn is a critical tool for business and professional engagement. Groups are one of the most important elements of LinkedIn. LinkedIn groups provide an opportunity for professionals connected by industry or interests to share knowledge, derive answers, publish and view available jobs, create new contacts and earn or establish their position as industry experts.
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To draw maximum advantage from LinkedIn in 2014, be sure to:
1. Establish a presence in groups with the representation of customers and business prospects
It’s very helpful to learn which groups potential clients and key people within your industry belong to. You can then develop articles, blog posts and other content to contribute to the group and raise your profile. If you do this well, you can strengthen the reputation of your business or undertake promotional activities in a subtle way that can have great impact.
2. Build your own community by starting a LinkedIn group
If you want to target a defined group of people in the hope of engagement with the business and other like-minded contacts, starting your own LinkedIn group can be effective. Businesses who have done this successfully have achieved the aims of building their members, being introduced to new prospective clients and propagating their business activities.
It is worth noting that both open and member-only groups can be created and are quite different.
3. Avoid overkill
Although you may recognise the huge potential of LinkedIn to grow your business and professional networks, there is danger in trying to do too much. Experience has shown that joining a huge number of groups does not mean that you acquire more contacts, enjoy more referrals or secure more business.
The key here is to strategically join and participate in groups. Sometimes, less is more. If you select the groups in which you will participate with attention to relevance and their potential value, you are better able to focus, participate meaningfully and make worthwhile contributions.
4. Earn your positions as a leader or expert
If you wish to be recognised as an expert, or someone who is authoritative, trusted and credible on LinkedIn, making contributions to group discussions is essential. Do not underestimate the importance of being an active contributor. LinkedIn has said that four times the number of profile views are enjoyed by those who contribute to group discussions.
Unsurprisingly, the greater the number of times your profile is viewed, the more likely it is that there will be an increase in your contacts and inbound leads. To be effective in this way, your contributions need to be relevant, accurate, helpful and though-provoking.
5. Use LinkedIn to find out what your market wants or thinks
LinkedIn can serve a very helpful market research function. The way to do this is actually very simple: ensure that you have joined a LinkedIn group with a strong representation of your market and ask the question that you would like answered.
Although this sounds straightforward, careful attention must be paid to language and tone so that you do not come across as forceful or sales driven. It’s also worth remembering that free polls with up to five answers for each can be created through LinkedIn groups.
LinkedIn is a potentially powerful tool for business and the development of key networks. However, for this platform to deliver benefits, it must be used thoughtfully and strategically.
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