Endorsements, recommendations, groups, articles, videos, oh my! How do you decide where to hone your focus across the many features of LinkedIn?
While the social media platform has many features that can aid you in your career, a networking group be an especially valuable way for professionals to get their name out there. Since groups within the social network primarily aim to connect you with professionals in your industry or related industries, they can be a helpful tool for job seekers hoping to find a new role, professionals positioning themselves to make a change, or people who are just hoping to join a community and discuss trends and other news with like-minded people. Even if you're not looking for a new position now, groups can be a valuable resource in building your career network and making new connections.
So how can your groups work for you? Here is a how-to guide for making the most of your LinkedIn group memberships.
1. Find the right groups.
Using keyword searches can help you identify the groups that contain the content that is relevant to you, but you probably won’t see the full breadth of what's out there. Instead, find someone who has the career to which you aspire—the job you’d like to have in five or ten years—and see which groups they have joined. Doing so will give you a clearer picture of what kinds of opportunities are available within your industry, along with the groups that complement the positions and roles that interest you.
Do this with four or five of your contacts. Another tip is to look at the profiles of some professionals and important industry figures you admire, identifying the groups of which they are members, and use them round out your selection. Continue to do this as your network grows or you see regular contributors in your group whom you would like to emulate.
2. Join the right groups.
How do you decide which groups to ultimately join?
Once you join a group, anyone who looks at your profile (not just group members) will be able to see the group on your public profile under the interests section. While it is unlikely that you would join any inappopriate or dangerous groups, you do want to ensure that the groups you join are aligned with the personal brand you have created.
In other words, avoid following controversial figures, groups, and figures. Remember that your profile is a professional networking resource that shapes people’s opinions of you, so steer the message and your content toward the image you would like to portray. If you are particularly dedicated to a certain cause, leave your participation to Facebook or another network based on personal, rather than professional, connections.
While there are no "right" or "wrong" groups to join, you do want to make sure sure they align with beliefs and ideas you would share with a stranger or, more importantly, hiring managers. Remember: Unlike Facebook, LinkedIn is a professional social network and often the first place employers will look to learn more about you and your career path.
This is one place where you can really see returns on the time your spend on LinkedIn. So make the most of it.
What is the best way to participate in groups, and what conversations would you like to start? Use the 80/20 rule of promoting yourself on social media. This rule says that you should spend 80% of your time online providing value, sharing information, and engaging your audience. The other 20% can be spent talking about what you have to offer.
Exactly how does this relate to group participation? When you see an article that you think would be relevant to the group, share it with an engaging question or invitation to comment. Also, everyone appreciates likes, shares and comments, so add your voice to the equation. When a question pops up, add your expertise and like others’ posts when you agree. Contribute to group discussions, and initate conversations of your own. That way, you are engaging with your industry, contributing to existing content and generating new ideas. The more you do this, the more people will begin to see you as a thought leader and valuable member of your community, which is a crucial step in personal branding and building your career network.
4. Look for additional connections.
LinkedIn groups can be a great way to engage with third-degree connections. If you are interested in or curious about something someone said in a someone said in a thread, check out her profile to learn more about her. If you would like to be connected or learn more, send a personalized invitation mentioning the particular discussions or comments that caught your eye and that you’d like to stay in touch on LinkedIn. People love compliments and knowing that others value what they have to say, so chances are, reaching out will be a valuable step in your professional networking.
If your goal is to increase your views, connections or probability of getting noticed and becoming a respected thought leader in your field, then LinkedIn groups can a great resource—whether you're in the midst of job search, self-marketing, hoping to bolster your personal branding, or just trying to meet like-minded people.
Be sure that your interactions with others are personalized, consistent, and add value. As with most networking efforts, this approach will take time; you may not see results after reaching out or contributing a post one time, so take care to build your reputation and relationships to see that your efforts pay off.
Alyson Garrido is passionate about helping women advance their careers and find jobs they will enjoy. As a career coach, she partners with her clients to identify their strengths and create a path toward a more fulfilling career. Alyson provides support around preparing for interviews, performance reviews, and salary negotiations, ensuring that you present yourself in the best possible light for job search and career advancement. Learn more or book a session with Alyson by visiting www.alysongarrido.com.