Are you a member of a LinkedIn Group?

Do you spend time networking in LinkedIn Groups?

LinkedIn Groups are great way to build credibility and make new connections that can ultimately help grow your business.

With over 1.5 million LinkedIn Groups, it can be difficult to find relevant Groups and determine which ones might be the best for you to join. It’s also important to find Groups that are well-managed.

Unfortunately there are many LinkedIn Groups that are not well-managed, which makes the experience within these Groups less than optimal.

linkedin groups directory
You are sure to find a LinkedIn Group of interest to you.

Not to worry, I’m going to give you some insights on how to find the quality groups you can leverage most for your LinkedIn strategy!

How many groups should you join?

You can join up to 50 LinkedIn Groups. However, it’s difficult to gain traction in 50 Groups as well as find the time to participate in that many.

I recommend that you go ahead and join up to 50 Groups, but select 5-10 Groups to spend your time on in order to get the most benefit out of your participation.

Below are 5 tips for maximizing your LinkedIn Groups experience.

#1: Use LinkedIn Search to Find Relevant Groups to Join

In case you haven’t noticed, LinkedIn search has been significantly enhanced. This includes the ability to search for relevant Groups (based on your network) and search for discussion topics within open Groups!

search for discussion topics
Now you can search for discussion topics within “open” LinkedIn Groups.

To start, search for Groups using keywords that would be a natural fit for you, based on your geographic location, industry, prospects, education history, community/charity organizations, hobbies and interests.

Try searching LinkedIn Groups with the keywords that actually describe your natural affinities. For example, type in the name of the college you attended to find potential alumni groups that exist on LinkedIn.

You can also take advantage of Boolean search operators for smarter searches on LinkedIn. I recently discovered this Tip Sheet on Boolean Search from LinkedIn Corporate Solutions.

To locate a LinkedIn Group that was in my geographic location and my industry, I searched LinkedIn Groups using the Boolean Search Operator “AND” for the keywords social media AND Dallas.

LinkedIn showed me 25 results for Groups based in Dallas AND focused on social media!

boolean search operators
Get more specific with your Group searches using Boolean search operators.

Another interesting finding was when I typed the word “hiking” into LinkedIn Group search. I found a group with over 1000 members who share this passion. There is no better way to start relationships than connecting around a common passion or interest!

hiking group
Search for LinkedIn Groups using your passions, hobbies and interests as keywords.

For each LinkedIn Group displayed in search results, you have the option to view members in your network who belong to the Group, as well as “similar Groups.”

network group members
See which of your connections are members of Groups and find similar Groups.

You can even reach out to your LinkedIn connections and ask them what they think about the Groups that they belong to. This gives you a solid reason to reach out and connect with your network.

LinkedIn Group search is extremely powerful to discover the right Groups to join!

#2: Review the “Groups You May Like” Suggestions From LinkedIn

The easiest way to navigate to the Groups You May Like feature is through your navigation menu bar under Groups. There you will see these options. (The Groups Directory option is the primary search area for LinkedIn Groups.)

group info
The Groups You May Like feature.

When you click on the Groups You May Like feature, LinkedIn will list suggested Groups for you to check out, based on your network connections, profile information, skills and expertise and existing Group memberships. You may also notice some Groups (or subgroups) on this list that you already belong to.

#3: Evaluate the Quality of a LinkedIn Group

How do you know if the LinkedIn Groups you are interested in joining are going to be well-run and high-quality?

In some cases, you may just have to join the Group and spend some time there to make that determination. However, here are a few ways to evaluate the Group for quality:

  • Who are the Group managers, and are they engaged and visible?
  • What are the Group rules? (Hint: if the Group rules don’t exist or they are not well-written, chances are the Group is not well-managed.)
  • Do a good majority of the discussions involve questions and dialogue?
  • Are there lots of promotional links or an abundance of “self-promotional” updates?
  • Are the top influencers in the Group credible?
  • Is the Group manager among the top influencers?

In a well-managed Group, you are going to most likely see a manager who is visible throughout the discussions, and a strong set of rules.

small business group manager
The Intuit Small Business Group manager is highly visible.

The quantity of membership and the activity level of a Group aren’t always correlated to whether the group is high-quality. I’ve seen some very large Groups that are very well-managed and some very small Groups that aren’t managed at all!

Be sure to evaluate the stats of the LinkedIn Group you are interested in as well. There you can learn more about member demographics, activity, how long the Group has been around and more.

group stats
Evaluate LinkedIn Group stats.

#4: Consider Joining Corporate-Sponsored Groups

There are a number of corporate-sponsored Groups popping up on LinkedIn. This is where LinkedIn has officially partnered with brands or corporations to help them build robust Groups. Within each of these Groups, the organization can drive member visits and discussion participation while also controlling the ad display space within the Group site.

Examples of these corporate LinkedIn Groups include Intuit (Small Business Group), Citi (Professional Women’s Network), Staples (Small Business Network) and Capital One (Business Traveler Network).

intuit corporate linkedin group
Intuit has a corporate-sponsored LinkedIn Group that caters to small business owners.

What I love about corporate-sponsored Groups on LinkedIn is that they are very well-managed. The discussions tend to be in-depth with rich dialogue among members. These brands/corporations have a vested interest in making their Groups successful, and in every case there are dedicated Group managers in place who facilitate the dialogue and keep the Group spam-free.

I have found as a member of several of the Groups listed above that the discussion questions submitted weekly (and delivered via email) by these Group managers are intriguing and enticing. They make you want to jump right in and give your own insights and opinions!

If you run your own LinkedIn Group or you’re thinking about starting one, you could learn some terrific strategies as a member of these corporate-sponsored Groups.

#5: Adhere to LinkedIn Group Participation Best Practices

In order to make LinkedIn Groups serve as authentic forums for discussions and dialogue, we can all do our part to maintain the integrity of the Groups we belong to. This will make the LinkedIn Group experience better for everyone.

Additionally, LinkedIn is doing its part by helping Group managers fight promotional posts. If you are thinking about posting a discussion that contains the words me, my or I, don’t count on it showing up. Most likely it will end up under the Promotions tab, where it’s highly unlikely that anyone will see it.

In order to successfully build influence in LinkedIn Groups, your best bet is to authentically engage in discussions and contribute value-added insights.

Below are some best practices to remember as you find the right Groups to join and start engaging with members:

  • Don’t just drop into Groups and promote your products or services.
  • Don’t auto-post your blog articles into LinkedIn Groups. Instead, provide links to reputable sources of information within the context of discussions that can help members. This can include your blog articles if they truly serve that purpose.
  • Ask questions and provide thoughtful answers.
  • Contribute to ongoing discussions and new discussions consistently.
  • Share meaningful, helpful, interesting and reputable content.
  • Send invites to connect with mutual Group members only after you’ve spent some time participating in the Group. The best time to send the invitation is when you’ve interacted with members in a discussion.

Closing thoughts…

I hope that these tips will help you make the most of your LinkedIn Groups experience. LinkedIn Groups provide an amazing opportunity to position yourself as a thought leader and an influencer. If you lead by example with your participation, others will follow.

What do you think? Are you spending time on LinkedIn Groups? How do you find the right Groups to join? What are your thoughts about the value of LinkedIn Groups? Leave your comments below.