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CIO - LinkedIn Groups "provide a place for professionals in the same industry or with similar interests to share content, find answers, post and view jobs, make business contacts, and establish themselves as industry experts," according to LinkedIn.
So how can your business or brand take advantage of LinkedIn Groups? Industry executives, recruiters and LinkedIn experts offer eight tips regarding how companies can get the most out of LinkedIn Groups.
1. Join groups where your customers and prospects are. "Identify groups with members who are prospective clients or influencers in your industry and then create content such as articles, how-to's, guides and blog posts that feature subjects relevant to that group," says Sara Flick, manager of content strategy and PR for ZOGDigital, a search and social marketing company. "This method can be used to provide best practices, establish your brand as an industry leader, or promote products or services in a natural and organic way."
+ MORE ON NETWORK WORLD 10 ways to get more out of LinkedIn +
2. Create your own LinkedIn Group. "To truly build community, companies are often best served [by starting a LinkedIn Group] for a very specific group of people with whom the company hopes to engage and -- crucially -- who would find value in engaging with one another, and having your company facilitate that connection," says Sam Ford, director of Audience Engagement at Peppercomm, an integrated marketing and communications firm.
"We created several groups on LinkedIn that would aggregate our target audience," says Peter Fosso, head of U.S. Operations, Music2Deal. "Since our company has its core business as a social network for the music industry, we created [the groups] Music Industry: Worldwide, Music Industry: United States and others. This allows us to build an audience, gain new members and propagate our brand."
[To learn more about creating a LinkedIn Group and the difference between Open groups vs. Members Only, click here.]
3. Don't overdo it. "The biggest lesson that I learned, that I share with clients, is to focus and minimize," says Julia Angelen Zunich, president, Z Group PR. "Being a member of 39 groups does not necessarily mean more contacts, referrals or projects," she notes. "I reduced my groups to one or two in each key category and then focused on being an active, contributing member to those groups. I made excellent connections and raised my professional profile."
4. Establish yourself as a thought leader or expert. If you want to establish yourself as a trusted resource or thought leader on LinkedIn, "contribute to group discussions," says Jeff Zelaya, a sales executive at Vocus, which provides cloud-based marketing and PR software and consulting. "According to LinkedIn, participants who comment on group discussions get four times the number of profile views," he notes. And "more profile views can lead to an increase in your network and possible inbound leads."
"Answer questions others post in the group, direct them to resources which may help [and] use your experiences to help others," adds Clare McDowall, the founder of consulting company Socially Good. "Post great content [that] might benefit others in the group. LinkedIn promotes the top contributors in each group, and gives your content recognition [which can] earn new connection requests and enquiries."