“One of the best things you can do on LinkedIn to position yourself as a thought leader and attract new customers or clients – is to create a group. (It also helps you get found on Google.)”
LinkedIn is a great stage to interact with prominent figures in your industry, and the best forum to do this is LinkedIn groups. Creating your own group gives you a great opportunity to network, prospect and discuss all your great ideas. All you need to do now is make sure your group is top dog for your target industry.
One of the keys to building a successful LinkedIn group is working out the area you want to focus on. You need to think about the kind of audience that you want to attract and what you want your group to be known for. Think about your perfect client, your perfect group member. Who are they? What do they care about? Where do they currently gather to discuss issues? How can you provide them with value?
Building a group isn’t just a numbers game, you need the right members. Keying in on your audience from the start lets you retain a high quality membership.
Make sure you take care when writing the description for your new group, not only does this show up in LinkedIn searches, but it will also be indexed by Google. Try and use keywords that will encourage potential members to click through and learn more about your group.
Think about how exclusive you want your group to be. You can force prospective members to apply to join if you want to restrict membership to a certain sector or industry. Giving your community an exclusive touch can also be a nice touch - people like to feel special.
The key value of LinkedIn groups is building relationships and exchanging ideas. It’s essential that you manage your group strictly and promote discussion - no one wants to join a group that churns out your company’s content and constantly 'sells' your business. To monitor your group effectively you may have to message members who are focusing on promotional content or spamming.
Members should be allowed to post their own articles from time to time, but only if it’s done in a discursive, non promotional fashion - you’ve worked hard to establish a culture of discussion and you don't want members to see your group purely as a marketing opportunity.
Particularly in the early days it’s essential that you position yourself as the leader of the group. It’s up to you to engage your members:
- Challenge them
- Ask them questions
- Ask their opinions
- Add your own opinion to discussions
- Contribute content that will drive discussion
Try and praise group members that regularly start and contribute to discussions by sharing and liking their posts - build strong relationships with your group’s key players. You should also try to ease new members into discussions by asking them to introduce themselves to the community - you'd be surprised how many will oblige!
Having your own LinkedIn group gives you great information about your target audience. Monitor the discussions that emerge and respond to queries and pain points in clever ways. It's a genuine way to interact with potential customers and respond to their queries.
Remember that LinkedIn allows group managers to send out a weekly digest. Think about how you select the content for this email - try and provide resources that provide value to your members (as opposed to just recycling content from your blog that you posted throughout the week.
Try to constantly focus on adding value for your members and be prepared to give above and beyond to create discussion with your early members. Concentrating on building this kind of environment from the outset is the best way to build a thriving group.
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Ben Slater is VP Growth at Beamery, the world's most advanced sourcing, recruiting and employer branding software
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