I think we all know by now that social media is taking over. If you aren’t on the big three, which I consider to be Facebook-Twitter-LinkedIn, then what are you doing? It is time to get social!
Most people know how to use Facebook and Twitter for personal and professional uses. I mean it can be easy enough as sharing industry content in your updates or tweets. However, do you know what to do on LinkedIn? LinkedIn is the “professional” social media platform, yet some people still don’t know how to use it to the best of its abilities.
LinkedIn takes more than just connecting with everyone in your email contacts. LinkedIn is the place to make new connections as well. Now, I am not telling you to start connecting with CEO’s of Fortune 500 companies that you have never done business with before; In fact, that is completely frowned upon. DON’T connect with someone you don’t know. Instead, join LinkedIn groups for your industry to make new connections. Don’t be an idle group member though, start participating. Here are a few guidelines to follow when it comes to LinkedIn Groups.
First, make sure that you are joining the right groups
There are tons of groups to join on LinkedIn, but you need to make sure that you are joining the right ones. You can be a part of 40 groups, but even that is a lot to handle. Choose wisely, have maybe 8 or 10 that you will join and participate in regularly. Remember, everyone you are connected with can see the groups that you are in. This is not the place to join a random gardening group because you like gardening – Stick to your industry. Those groups will be the places where you can find the best networking contacts and information.
For the event industry some of my favorites are: Event Peeps: For Live Event Industry Professionals, BizBash – Event Planners Gather, and Social Media and Event Technology for Event Planners and Meeting Planners. Being a Content and Community Manager I am also a part of some groups that are specifically for event marketers, so find what fits for you. Have a good balance between broad event groups and ones that are more specific to your job, location, etc.
Next, start monitoring the conversations
See what types of conversations are going on in the group. The best thing you can do is sign up for the daily group digests. They will email you a list of the hottest discussions happening that day. Click on the few that interest you and see what type of chatter is already happening. If it is something that you have some knowledge on or something that you can help the discussion starter with then chime in! This is how you get your influence up in the group. Every time you comment or start a discussion, you boost your influence score which can be seen on the right hand side of the group page. Top influencers are those members who cause the most contributions from other group members.
Then, start discussions of your own
Once you get your influence up after commenting in a few discussions, it is time for you to start some of your own. Try to steer away from only positing your own content, and propose questions to the group for something you need help on. Maybe you have an event coming up in an international location that you have never been to before, see if people have suggestions on vendors to use there. This is your community and they are there to help you!
If you do post your own content, show how it is of value to the group or ask for members’ help on the matter. You don’t want to seem like you are trying to sell your business or content. It will turn group members off and you could get banned from posting in the group.
You can keep your eye on your activity in the group as well. When you open up the group page you will see something that looks like Facebook update bar with your photo next to it. Underneath that photo is a link that will show all your activity within the group.
Finally, start making connections
Now that you understand your group members, have participated in discussions and started some of your own, start reaching out to people! If there are some member’s posts that you always comment on, then reach out to them to connect.
When you send them an invitation to connect, please change the generic message “XX would like to connect with you on LinkedIn” to something a little more personal. Make sure you say who you are and what group you met them in. If you are looking to do business with them, let them know that as well! Try and take the conversation off LinkedIn by adding your email to the message.
It can be overwhelming when you get started to monitor and manage your activity in multiple groups, so start slow. Maybe only join one or two groups that you think you can contribute to positively. Once you get the hang of it and start making new connections, join a few others. And once you become a group aficionado, you can even start your own group or a group for your event!
What are you best tips for getting started in groups? What has your experience been? We want to know!
Written by: Kristen Carvalho