by Kirsten Hodgson
At first glance setting up a LinkedIn group is relatively simple.
You fill out the fields in the ‘Create a Group’ form and voila!
But, if you want to maximise the chances of people joining your group, it’s slightly more complex than that…
I’ll back up a moment.
Why might you want to set up a LinkedIn group?
- Build your profile in your area of expertise.
- Position yourself as an authority in your area.
- Find and attract those with similar interests or who may need your help.
- Widen your professional network by building relationships with group members.
- Learn more about the views and perspectives of those in your industry.
- Establish a community and then organise in-person events to strengthen these relationships.
- Generate interest in you and your firm, including in-bound enquiries.
How might you go about it?
LinkedIn suggests you invite people as soon as you create your group. However, at this stage you won’t have pre-loaded any discussions, you won’t have created your group rules and you won’t have set up templates (if desired) such as to let people know they’ve successfully joined your group.
If you invite people at this point, why should they join?
For that reason I recommend you skip the invites (you can send these later) and click the ‘Manage’ tab.
A number of tabs will appear in the toolbar on the left hand side of the page.
1. Go to ‘Group Settings’ – here you can determine what features you will allow, what permissions you’ll give people (e.g. do new discussions need to be moderated before they can be posted?), any restrictions, and whether people can auto-join the group or whether they need to request to join.
2. If you want to add or change anything in the form you filled out originally, go to the ‘Group Information’ tab. Take a look through your Group Description – does it tell people the purpose of the group and the benefit to them of joining? If not, you might like to revise it.
3. Go to ‘Group Rules’ and set out your rules. What is and isn’t acceptable? What will happen to those who don’t comply? For some good group rules check out the Group ‘Lead Generation Marketing – Gather, Engage, Sell’.
4. Go to the ‘Templates’ tab and set up any template messages you wish to.
If people need to request to join then you’ll want to set up a ‘request to join’ message thanking them for their interest and letting them know when they can expect to hear from you.
You might like to set up a ‘Welcome’ message thanking people for joining the group, giving them some information about it and saying you look forward to their participation. Tom Skotidas has a great message for those who join his B2B Social Media Lead Generation Group.
You may also want to set up a polite ‘decline’ message for those who you don’t let into your group. You have the ability to ‘decline and block’ them so they can’t request to join again in the future.
5. Ask those you wish to moderate the group to join it (you can have up to 9 moderators plus the group manager). If people have to request to join your group you can pre-approve the moderators and any others you wish to under the ‘Pre-approve people’ tab. Once the moderators have joined the group, you can change their status from member to moderator.
To do so:
- Click the ‘Manage’ tab
- Click ‘Participants’ (in the list on the left hand side)
- Select ‘Members’ from the Participants list
- Click ‘Change role’ and select ‘To moderator’ from the drop-down list.
6. Pre-load some discussions so that those you invite to join can see some activity. An ‘introduce yourself’ discussion is a good way to get people engaging. You may then want to ask a question or share a link to some content those you wish to join will find helpful/valuable.
7. Ask a few of your connections to join the group and comment on the existing discussions. This will give others who join later the confidence to do so too.
8. You’re now ready to invite people. LinkedIn doesn’t allow you to send personalised invites if you choose to invite people within the group itself (this is to protect members security with regards to group invites).
If there are people you really want to join your group or you want to maximise the number of people who accept your invite, you may want to use LinkedIn messages or InMail to invite people. It’s slightly more time-consuming but it does allow you to tailor your message.
I always great people by their name, invite them to join the group and let them know the benefits of doing so. It’s easy to draft something and to then copy and paste it so it’s not like you have to write a message from scratch for every person. And it shows you’re thinking about them and their needs.
You’ll then want to invite more people, initiate more discussions and comment on others, and ensure the group’s delivering what you say it will.
What other tips do you have for people thinking about starting a LinkedIn group?
What’s worked well for you? And what hasn’t worked so well?