Once you have launched your official profiles on social media, you may stumble with what your next steps should be. Maintaining your page should be at the top on your list of priorities; logging on regularly, updating your information as needed, and connecting with current and former colleagues to expand and enhance your network. There is another essential piece to the puzzle of social media, which is networking through groups. Of all the tools and benefits which come with using social media, engaging in a relevant group for your industry and position is one of the most valuable. For professionals at all levels, identifying and utilizing the appropriate groups, and then maintaining active participation in them, should be a regular task.
Where do I start?
Now that you know about groups, the question becomes: How exactly do you locate and harness the best and most visible groups in your industry and furthermore, in your specific niche? The first thing you have to do is set goals. Ask yourself questions like:
- What are you hoping to accomplish or garner from joining a group?
- Since groups are more focused, just one will likely not meet all your needs.
- Are you looking to connect with clients?
- Establish your expertise or authority?
- Learn more about your current industry and field?
- Transition to a different industry?
- Seek a new position?
Once you have determined a set of clear expectations you should begin to search for impactful groups. Avoid general terms. Be as specific as you can to yield the most relevant results. In addition to searching, review the groups to which people you respect belong. If you think of ‘groups’ in terms of a professional mixer, you would absolutely want to attend the same mixer as someone whose work you greatly admire, or whose influential sphere is significant. By the same token, belonging to the same group as these individuals increases your visibility and opportunities to network with both them and their peers.
How do I join?
The next step will be to join groups based on the information you’ve gathered. On LinkedIn, “members only” groups will require permission from the group manager to join before you can engage with other users in that group. Once you have joined or been accepted to a group, begin to review the discussions and posts. If you find they are relevant to your goals or what you’re seeking, great! It won’t hurt you to leave, however, if you find that perhaps your initial impression was misguided. Don’t waste time if it’s clear you’re not in the right place.
If you find that the material and conversations are what you hoped and expected, gradually begin to join in. Easing into a group is pragmatic for a couple of reasons. One, you’re still learning. And that’s OK. You may find it easier, at first, to respond to others rather than jump into leading a discussion. Secondly, no one enjoys having the conversation commandeered and dominated by one person, particularly if that person is a newcomer. Getting a feel for active users in the group who are well-informed and well-spoken on issues relevant to your goals will help you appropriately network to the fullest degree possible.
Maintaining group participation
As you move forward, consider limiting yourself to a smaller number of groups. As with your personal page, you will want to prioritize regular activity in the groups which you find the most beneficial and relevant. Belonging to a large range of groups, or accepting every invitation which comes your way will make this task daunting. Meaningful participation within a group you have carefully vetted will be much more manageable and advantageous if you identify a select few and stick with them. It will also reflect well on your personal page in a clean, efficient way for others who can easily identify your groups, rather than be overwhelmed with a lengthy, overwrought list. It will be immediately apparent that you not only value your contribution to your personal professional marketplace, but that you want others to benefit from it, as well. Before long, you just may be the person to whom others relate to when deciding on which groups they fit into best.
How can ECP help?
At Executive Career Partners, our Marketing Directors have years of experience navigating the ever-changing landscape of social and digital media. They can guide you to which groups will be most beneficial to your individual journey. To learn more and speak with a Regional Director, start here.
Haden, Jeff. “11 Tips to Find the Best LinkedIn Groups.” Inc.com (9 August 2012).
www.inc.com/jeff-haden/11-tips-to-find-the-best-linkedin-groups.html (Accessed March 2017)