Just to be clear up front, I’m not about to list 10 groups that you just have to join on LinkedIn. But I make no apology for that – this is going to be more useful in your search for good, relevant LinkedIn groups to join and participate in than any list I could have put together for you would have been. Trust me! 😉
The reason I say that a list of 10 groups to join would be as much use as a chocolate teapot is that the ones you decide to join and participate in on LinkedIn need to be aligned with your goals (and / or interests) and so will be specific to you … or to take it a step further … you at this particular moment in time. They have to be, I know that you simply don’t have the time to spend in ones that just might be of interest – this is a business network and we need to focus accordingly.
Sorry, lecture over I promise …
Now it’s true that you are “restricted” to joining only join 50 LinkedIn Groups at the moment, but, let’s be honest, the most you’ll be able to participate properly in is likely to be closer to 4 or 5 – it comes back to time again. The others, however, can be an excellent source of information and can open up opportunities to connect with others. For me, the invitation to connect where you are in the same group as someone is tremendously powerful because it gives you a common focal point to initiate the contact with and then develop.
However, we need to look at the types of groups that we may like to work with and I’d say that there are certain key types of groups that you may want to search out and join. Here are a few suggestions:
It’s highly likely that you’re going to want to mix with people who are interested in the same areas as you deal in and perhaps you also might find opportunities for collaboration as well. Groups which are focused on particular industries can be some of the most active – and certainly ones to list among your potential target groups.
Vertical Industry Groups
Very often, targeted business development efforts will be focused along vertical sector lines such as Banking, Telco, Pharmaceutical etc. These groups bring together members of these verticals so that would seem to be a good place to go – fish where the fish are, if you like. You can start to participate in the group discussions and of course position yourself as the expert within your own specialism in the eyes of this target audience.
While we may consider ourselves to be national or even international suppliers, for most organisations, there’s also a lot to be said for having a good local base – for others, it’s their lifeblood or potentially their only source of business. Whichever your situation, join some local and regional groups to make sure that you have this covered. It’s not just individuals from smaller companies that join, you know! Equally, if you are going to specifically target another geographic area, then what better way to start the process rolling than joining some groups representing that area and progressing from there.
Specific Skills Groups
You might also call these professional groups I guess but these are ones which focus on certain key skills – perhaps ones that you already have but equally ones that you want to learn more about. Either way it’s an ideal way to keep up to date with the news, listen to what others are saying and also to find additional links to other sites where you can continue your research.
While I personally advocate quality over quantity when it comes to networking, there is also an argument for spreading your message as widely as possible. Networking groups offer the opportunity to do just this by linking to other “Open Networkers” for example or tapping into the online networks of face-to-face networking groups. This has other implications on LinkedIn where the system applies 3 levels of connections and makes that your “universe” on LinkedIn.
Trade Association Groups
They may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but there’s no denying the highly important role that Trade Associations play, particularly in certain industries. Equally, a well run group on LinkedIn can be highly powerful allowing you to keep up to date with relevant information and legislation as well as bringing to gether people sharing similar business interests and the potential referrals and opportunities for cooperation that they bring.
We’re not talking really about “Old Boys” networks as it were, but simply having the chance to tap into people that you were at the same school or university is certainly relevant because you have a common point of focus and shared experiences. Both very relevant.
Personal Interest Groups
There’s more than one way to approach people and although LinkedIn may be considered THE business networking site online and conversations focus around business, it doesn’t mean that we have all suddenly forgotten everything else that we enjoy doing. Check out some of the other things that you participate in and I feel confident that for all but the most obscure there will be a group dedicated to it. So see who else enjoys doing what you do!
I hope that you have found a few additional avenues to consider amongst those and that you can identify a few groups which will deliver against the business objectives that you have for participating on LinkedIn. Enjoy!