Social Networking Groups: What’s the Value of Joining?

June 28, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Marketing Communications 

by Susan Long-Molnar, President

I have found over the past year that it is crazy not to join a few groups in Linked In. That’s the first step. The downside is that before you know it, you receive weekly (or more frequent) e-mails when someone has posted a new discussion or event. What is important is how you use the groups so that all of this is not a waste of time.

Selecting a good mix of groups will keep you from social networking insanity. I recommend a couple of national (largely populated) ones in your industry, to keep you sharp on issues and depending on your marketing targeted reach, they may open incredible business referral opportunities for you. Joining a few local ones or those in the geographical locations of your offices will give you the most value. One area which we have recommended to our clients is to spend more time joining groups outside their own industry—where their clients and prospects are members—will usually provide the most opportunities for some serious networking.

So what can you do to get your messages and brand part of the buzz? Here are just a few thoughts…

  • Check out the New Members column on the group’s site. Is there someone you would like to know? Go to their web site, send a message explaining that you would like to connect and mentioning that you are in the same group. Usually, they will review your profile, and probably connect.
  • Promote your events (whether you are attending or sponsoring) to a wider body of contacts
  • Create questions for discussion which either give you information about a particular topic or through the comments, offer opportunities to follow up with potential prospects or referral sources. If it is a question which is related to your expertise or discipline, you can use the material along with your own to craft responses, furthering showing your expertise.
  • Additionally, take the time to enter discussions with your own opinions and be sure to follow discussions. If a group is too large, you can start a discussion in most groups to recommend a subgroup to the manager of the group. This will further identify you as a leader in that subgroup.
  • Drive traffic to your website, by introducing one of your own articles or something you have read recently, with your own comments. This will give you an opportunity for new visitors from the group and hopefully, if there is valuable information on your site, keep them coming back.
  • Most groups are useful for identifying job openings you have with your company, recognizing others in the same group for their accomplishments, and promoting some specific aspect of your business. For example, if I relate a specific PR service on the American Marketing Association group site, our company may become a resource for agencies and consultants who provide strictly marketing services.
  • Don’t assume that you don’t fit a group. Stretching a bit is fine as long as there is some connection to the group. If you sell a product, from shoes to residential property, anyone could need your service at some point. Just be sure not to abuse the time you spend in the group. Often, you will make more relationships when you share your leadership, management style, knowledge about an important topic, then info on the specific products. Most relationships, whether online or face-to-face are first developed based on trust, respect, knowledge, and personality.
  • Be sure to recommend others to a group as this is helpful to them while giving you an opportunity, once again, to brand your own business.

Start paying attention to the groups others have joined, both within your network and beyond. You can also search the Group Directory easily on your site. If you have other successes in joining groups, please share.