Networking through LinkedIn Groups

Many professionals become active in networking specific organizations or business associations, attend local and industry related trade shows, and participate in local young professional organizations or chamber of commerce meetings regularly to expand their network. And whether you’re networking to build your relationship with current customers, connect with prospects, or to spy on the competition, LinkedIn Groups is certainly a resource that shouldn’t be looked over.

Why are LinkedIn Groups worth your time?
LinkedIn Groups are one of the easiest ways to build both your personal and business’ brand.
For example, if you are a small business owner, there are plenty of groups filled with like-minded people who will offer you support and answer your business or industry-specific questions. Joining groups associated with your industry or region is also a great way to connect and collaborate. Additionally, as a member of a group providing your opinion, answering questions, and adding links to relevant blogs you’ve written, you will be seen as an authority or expert in your field.
How to Make the Most of LinkedIn Groups
1.)    Use Good Judgment When Selecting Groups
As a member of LinkedIn you are allowed to join up to 50 groups, but to utilize this feature effectively, you should really only consider choosing two or three to interact with.
Before you seek out any groups, it is important you know what your goals are. Are you looking to brand yourself as a thought leader within your industry or community? Are you looking to connect with with prospective clients or other industry leaders? Are you looking to recruit employees? Are you searching for a new job? Only choose groups that align with your goals. And while it’s important the groups include a good number of members, groups can also be too big to yield results. Developing a presence within a group is obviously more difficult in groups with thousands of members.
2.)    Promote Your Blog
Many people contribute to discussions with blogs and articles they find interesting or timely. However, one the best ways to promote your personal or business’ brand is by promoting blogs you’ve actually authored. While your blogs’ topics should be relevant to whatever discussion you are adding them to, you can many times find opportunities to cross-post blogs within several groups at a time. Posting blogs within LinkedIn Groups will drive traffic to your site and better allow you to share your expertise with a targeted demographic.
3.)    Manage a Group
Volunteer to become a group administrator for relevant groups. As a group administrator, you will be able to showcase your leadership within the industry and also have a better opportunity to promote your brand. However, to make a group worthy of membership, it will be your job to ensure it is providing value to its members. Go beyond posting links and articles and develop new and creative ways build a community  and engage members. Volunteering as a group administrator may also provide more opportunity to meet members face-to-face.
4.)   Consistency is Key
To yield results from your activity within LinkedIn Groups, consistent interaction is necessary. If you only check in a couple times a month, other group members are less likely to engage in conversations with you.
What LinkedIn groups have brought you the most value?