Using LinkedIn Groups for Business Development

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Well, I’m sure you’ve heard by now…LinkedIn is one of the top professional social networking tools used — along with Plaxo, Naymz and a whole host of others that are industry and geographical specific.

Here are a few best practices that every professional should know:

– Always make sure to complete your profile in its entirety. Also, don’t make it look like a resume. Keep it in a concise format. I always like to use bullets. And, don’t forget to talk about your accomplishments.

-Make sure to add a professional profile picture. If you have a professional headshot, great. If not, then have someone take a nice picture of you. Don’t use pictures of your dog, or some random piece of artwork. The headshot that I use is not professionally done, but happens to be a good picture. It was actually taken at my last birthday dinner.

-Always add someone as a connection, with a personal note, when you have connected with them either through an online introduction, or from an in-person event or call. Don’t just randomly send invitations. Think of it as if you were going to a networking cocktail reception, and randomly started throwing your cards at people. Would they care to connect with you if there’s no context? Would you?

-Join groups that are populated with “like-minded” individuals, and also ones that contain members of companies that you’d like to be targeting for your business. So, for example…I’m in an Internet Marketing group. I’m also in the Social Media Marketers group. Those are like-minded groups populated by people who have similar types of companies or are in a similar type of position as me…I also am a member of the International Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association group — because I have deep industry experience in Licensing and service a variety of types of companies in that industry.

-When you are participating either in your “like-minded” or target groups, there are many ways to stay active — whether it be through seeding thoughtful conversations in a group or participating in one. Groups are also a great place to “listen in” about what’s happening in your industry. You’ll be able to see trends, your competition, industry news, interesting articles and service offerings from complimentary companies.

-What’s also happening with groups…and I’m not surprised in the least, is that there are now “sub-groups” within groups. Yep, you heard that correctly. I’m an administrator for the Step Up Women’s Network NY Mentoring group (This is both a like-minded and target group for networking) and I received an email this week from LinkedIn saying that this was now a new feature. This was the announcement I received:

“There are now over 300,000 groups on LinkedIn where professionals are discussing, sharing news and collaborating with each other. We sincerely appreciate your dedication to the LinkedIn group you manage. Your efforts are essential to the continued success of groups.

We’re happy to announce that later this week we are launching a long-requested feature for group managers: the ability to create subgroups. Subgroups are like a break-out session at a conference. They enable you to create more focused areas than in the main group.”

Groups are an essential part of your overall social media plan to support your business development outreach. Interested in finding out more on how to leverage groups on LinkedIn to support your company’s sales and marketing efforts? Then contact us. We’re happy to help. For individuals, feel free to learn more about how our Professional Social Media coaching services can help extend your personal brand.

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