by Kirsten Hodgson
Determining which LinkedIn groups to join comes down to what you want to use them for. If you want to keep up to date with what's happening in your industry you'll want to join groups where your peers congregate or that are focused on a particular sector. If you want to find and engage prospects, you'll want to join groups to which they belong.
Every group is different and what works in one group doesn't necessarily work in another. For example, asking a question in some groups is a great way to start a conversation but in others sharing a link to a blog post works well.
Despite the plethora of reasons why people join groups I believe there are 3 criteria that separate good LinkedIn groups from poor ones.
- A narrow enough focus - so that you find the majority of the discussions interesting. I have joined a few country specific groups because a lot of the people I want to engage are also there but the discussions are on such a broad range of topics it can be hard to find those that are relevant, and new discussions tend to get lost.
- Good moderation – in terms of clearly establishing and communicating group rules, moving advertising and promotional posts into their own area, removing spam and, if moderating content before it's posted doing so on a regular basis, otherwise the posts go out of date. One of the groups to which I belong could be really valuable but unfortunately content only seems to be moderated on a monthly basis. This means there are no new discussions for ages and then suddenly there's a glut as they are moderated. This means content gets lost and there's no incentive to check into the group at any other time. By the time discussions are posted many of them are out of date.
- An engaged membership - there is a lot of value in groups where people regularly post content and engage in conversations. There are other groups where people post discussions but these receive few, if any, comments. Sometimes it's because the posts are interspersed with spam and so fewer people check the new discussions but sometimes it could be because the people you want to connect with may be listeners rather than active participants and so, even though you might think your attempts to engage people in dialogue are a bit like bashing your head against a brick wall, they may not be. People could be reading your posts but just not commenting.
If you can't find a LinkedIn group for your area, you might want to start one – for some great tips read Tom Skotidas' recently published article on how to use LinkedIn groups to engage your B2B prospects, build brand and generate leads.
What other things do you think separate valuable from less-valuable LinkedIn groups?
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