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Improve your online networking via LinkedIn

Paystream News

Michelle Derungs

Thursday 17th Apr, 2014

LinkedIn not only provides a platform for you as contractors to showcase your skill set, but it provides the ability to network and build relationships with other industry professionals.

However, this is easier said than done. It can be tough to spark a conversation out of thin air, so why not use LinkedIn groups to your advantage.

What do LinkedIn groups have to offer?

There is no argument that the number of LinkedIn members are much lower than that of other social media channels however, no other social media channel offers as many B2B communication opportunities, nor do they host as many professional groups.

LinkedIn provides you with the opportunity to tap into the 160 million users and 2.1 million discussion groups. Tapping into these targeted groups give you not only a starting point to spark up conversation, but the opportunity to create and post engaging content, establishing yourself as an individual who is passionate about the industry in which they work.

So how do you use LinkedIn groups to your advantage?

Source relevant groups

It's important to ensure you join groups that are well managed. Unfortunately, there are numerous groups on LinkedIn that are poorly managed ruining user experience.

LinkedIn allows you to join as many as 50 groups, but it's better to begin with 5-10 and focus your efforts on these.

To begin, use LinkedIn's search tools to type in keywords that are relevant to your field of interest. LinkedIn's enhanced features try and optimise this for you by using your demographics to pinpoint groups that might appeal to you more.

LinkedIn will then highlight members in your network that are currently in these or similar groups. This may give you a better guide as to which groups are the best fit for you.

For example a digital marketing group search in Manchester UK would bring up:

Kick start group engagement

Once you've become a member of a group, don't be shy, kick start the conversation. The best way to do this is with a simple post introducing yourself, your professional background, your current employment position, your interests, your long term career goals and what you'd like to gain from the group. Doing this gives you a starting point to communicate with other industry professionals.

You can then post content, regularly if you have the time, on industry related topics and questions that you may have.

Engagement might be a time consuming process but establishing key connections and building those valuable relationships can pay off in the long term.

Get involved in the discussion

It's always good to create engaging content, but what good is a discussion group if you don't contribute to hot topics.

Use discussion topics to your advantage. If you see a question that you feel you can answer with valuable insight, because of your skill set, then why not do just that. This is also an excellent way to portray yourself as both passionate and knowledgeable about your field of interest.

It is key to remember the power of reciprocation. If you contribute to a discussion, it is likely your fellow members will reciprocate and get involved with the content you post.

Don't sell yourself, engage with others!

It can be easy to fall into the mind set that LinkedIn is a tool for you to push content that sells yourself and your skill set rather than actually communicating with others. This is the wrong path to take.

The concept behind groups is that each member adds value to industry discussions, so remember to do just that.

Try and tailor a key message around relevant content - the easiest method of doing this is to ask a question.

Take a look at the example below, just a simple question attracts a lot of engagement. You can also do this by sharing industry hot topics and asking questions surrounding the subject.

Overall, the key to tapping into groups effectively is to ensure that you post content that is of relevance to that group as this will encourage engagement with your fellow group members. It is key to ensure you are a member of a group that fits your professional background and field of interest. Although it can be tricky to kick start your involvement with LinkedIn groups, the social network can build vital network connections and enhance your opportunity of attaining those vital vacancy opportunities.

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