Starting Your Own LinkedIn Group
It is a well know fact that clients buy from people and businesses that they ‘know, like and trust”. This is especially important when you are taking about professional services.
A great way to become known as a trusted expert in your field is to create and run a LinkedIn group. As well as building credibility your group can also potentially generate many new leads.
The secret to running a successful group is all in the planning and execution. This requires you to take the time to set up your LinkedIn group, build it and run it properly.
Setting Up Your LinkedIn Group
There are four essential steps that you will have to focus on when creating your group. They will help you to attract targeted prospects to your group as well as to help them find you when they are searching for a LinkedIn group. These steps include:
Creating a name – In most cases, this should not be your business name. The name needs to attract the specific group of people that you want to target. You do this by using the keywords that they will use when searching for a LinkedIn group. The name should also include a location if you are trying to attract people from a specific geographic area. i.e. Toronto Business Professionals.
Designing a custom logo – creating a custom designed logo will covey a professional image for the group and provide an added layer of credibility for you as the group owner.
Writing a group summary – this is visible from the LinkedIn group search results page and should be a few sentences long (to a maximum of 300 characters).
It must grab a potential prospects attention and convince them to join, or at least take a deeper look at your group description. Include your keywords, the industry or profession the group is targeted for and a brief statement that explains what benefits or value they will get from being a part of the group
Expanding in greater detail in the group description – prospects will see this when they click on your group name in the search results. It is an extension of your summary and should expand on why you created the group and exactly who will benefit from joining as well as the value they will receive by being a member.
Updating Your LinkedIn Group Settings
There are a number of LinkedIn group settings that you will want to set up after you have created your group to ensure a professional, quality group.
Set up the group rules – in order to maintain the integrity of your group and not lose group members, consider having a strict policy on spam and promotional content.
Require pre-approval for members to join – it is a good idea to screen each member individually as it creates a feeling of exclusivity and most importantly, it allows you to spot fake or spammy profiles.
Choose your group privacy setting – while there are two types of privacy settings for LinkedIn groups, Open and Members Only, you should usually create an Open group, unless you require the information and access of the group to be restricted to a very select group of people for privacy reasons.
Determine posting permissions – You can easily maintain post quality within your LinkedIn group by requiring pre-approval of posts. The down side of this is that you will need to moderate the group regularly and this can hamper engagement within the group because it requires each individual comment to be approved.
Set up a welcome message under templates – create a welcome message that thanks new members for joining your LinkedIn group, tell them what they can expect from the group and this is also your opportunity to introduce yourself to them as the group owner.
Growing Your LinkedIn Group
There are two activities you can actively do to increase your group membership. The first is to send invitations to your current connections. It is important to note that sending group invitations to random connections without some sort of prior contact will likely have poor success unless you have a large and sought after group. To improve the odds that your connections will join when you send them an invite, only send initiations to people who could benefit from being part of the group.
The second activity is to include your group name and link, when appropriate, in your marketing materials. This could include anything from your email signature, website, your LinkedIn messages and even on printed materials such as your business cards or brochures.
Provide Valuable Content In Your Group
Once you have created your group, the most important thing you must do is add content in the form of posts and discussions that will be of value to your members.
Once a week you should aim to add some form of content that addresses one of their specific needs. If you are not sure what their specific needs are or you just need some inspiration for potential topics, you can get them from a number of places that include:
Other LinkedIn groups – join other LinkedIn groups targeted to similar niches to see what topics are being discussed, which topics have the highest engagement and what topics often come up. Also look for what isn’t working as this will let you know what to avoid.
LinkedIn group poll – once you have a decent number of members, you can poll them to find out what they want more information on.
Google search – search for relevant topics that would appeal to your audience and share information they would find interesting and/or informative.
Ask your clients – whether in person or on social media, this can be your greatest source for topics with the added benefit, that you can suggest your clients to you’re your group.
News and trending topics – stay up to date as to what is a trending topic as this will usually be something people will engage with.
I hope that I have provided you with the information you need to successfully create your own group. What will ultimately make your group successful or not is the consistent time you are will to dedicate to the group each week. As your group grows and changes, so to will your weekly strategy or plan.
By Melonie Dodaro
Melonie Dodaro, founder of Top Dog Social Media an agency that helps business owners, entrepreneurs and professionals maximize their social media marketing efforts. She’s also a highly sought after social media speaker and trainer. To download your free report called Stop Wasting Time & Start Getting Results With Social Media visit TopDogSocialMedia.com.