LinkedIn is one of the most powerful social media tools for business to business use. If you want to establish or enhance your business’s reputation, polish your personal or professional brand or gain respect as a knowledgeable professional, LinkedIn is the social media tool for you.
LinkedIn Groups are virtual water-coolers or coffee break rooms where professionals gather and share advice, information or counsel. Establishing a group expressly organized to support for your professional goals will help give you and your business an authoritative presence.
Types of LinkedIn groups
Your group can be one of several types. LinkedIn groups can be in one of these categories:
- Alumni Group
- Corporate Group
- Conference Group
- Networking Group
- Nonprofit Group
- Professional Group
Establishing your group
Starting a LinkedIn Group is simple. All you have to do is login to your LinkedIn profile; navigate to your menu bar and click on groups. Look for the “Create a Group” in the Groups menu drop down. Give the group a distinctive name that helps focus prospective group members’ on the group’s purpose. If you are a graphic designer in Georgia and you’re setting up a group for graphic designers in your state, you could use a group name that informs such as “Graphic Designers in Georgia”. If you are a web developer and want to set up a group to discuss the latest thoughts on WordPress website development, you might create a fun name like “Pressing Issues: Custom WordPress Website Development”.
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Complete the items with the appropriate information.
Prior to establishing your group, you will want to have a clear reason for the group’s establishment. You will also have to make a decision as to whether or not this is an open group that anyone may join or a membership group. Membership groups are limited to those who request membership and are then approved by the group owner. As the group owner, you will have to take on the role of moderator and organizer.
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If you anticipate that this may become a large group, you may need some assistance managing it and can appoint moderators or managers from group members to assist you, the group owner.
Now that your group is established
Publicize your group to your LinkedIn contacts by inviting them to join the group. You may also wish to invite your professional contacts outside of LinkedIn to join your group. Doing this will help you increase your LinkedIn contacts.
Creating conversation and discussion
Your job is stimulating discussion among group members. For example, if you have started a LinkedIn group for graphic designers, you may possibly ask questions about new technology or tools being released to the market; or seek discussion on how to manage a project’s flow; or you may even ask a question of the group about how they have solved a specific issue common to all members of the group, such as collecting late payments from clients. To help you stay organized, calendar out your questions up to a month in advance.
In your role as group owner, you will need to monitor the group for any who spam the members with items that don’t belong in the forum of discussion. You will also want to moderate the group and monitor for appropriate topics of conversation posted by members. Hopefully all your group’s members will “play nice” with each other and refrain from bullying or harassing comments. If you find they don’t act in a professional manner, you can boot them out. That is your job. And if you don’t do it, your group will become like the Wild West—disorderly and lawless.
LinkedIn also suggests that as group owner and manager that you “Feature a Manager’s Choice discussion that explains your expectations for group content.” Manager’s Choice discussions are those you’ve selected and on which you’re shining the spotlight. According to LinkedIn, “If you’re a group owner, manager or moderator you can feature up to 10 discussions in the Manager’s Choice module on the right side of your group’s Discussions page.”
Creating a successful LinkedIn group is something you can do and which will yield you many new professional contacts and an enhanced brand.
Things to Keep in Mind:
- Have a focus, mission, reason or goal for the group.
- Create an informative name for the group
- Promote the group to your LinkedIn contacts and professional associates outside of LinkedIn.
- Calendar your discussion items.
- Assign moderators if needed to help manage the group.
- Create a Manager’s choice item helping group members understand your expectations.
- Promote quality interaction by booting out the lawless
- Feature interesting and popular discussions in the Manager’s Choice module.
Want more information on establishing and managing groups? LinkedIn offers a number of brief and easy to comprehend FAQs and guides.
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