How Useful Are LinkedIn Groups?

Like any good entrepreneur, you try to make the best use of the tools at your disposal. You’re on LinkedIn and may have begun using it more and more to reach out to potential partners, employers and funders. As you dive deeper into the swell, you feel overwhelmed by group emails: job postings that don’t pertain to you, conversations about people’s organizations and event highlights could be potentially useful.

But how do you make true connections with group members on LinkedIn? How do you find like-minded individuals and share information on your causes? If you’re like us, you’re a member of several groups and probably do not look at the content or conversations often. Have you even gone so far as to turn off email digests and notifications?  Have you removed groups from your profile because you aren’t getting anything out of being a member?

Unfortunately, many well-intentioned groups have become shouting matches between vendors and consultants. Even though groups have certain guidelines for group posts to follow, made even more transparent with their addition of ‘group rules’, it’s still very easy to circumvent for self promotion.

Still, LinkedIn groups can be a very powerful tool in your job search or consultancy. Here are three ways to connect, better:

1 – Limit the groups you belong to: this makes it much easier to be able to contribute in places that will really give you prominence and connections. Does adding professional groups help your stature on your profile? Maybe. But do they help you in any other way? Are the same people posting over and over, and the ‘top contributor’ week to week? Consider this when becoming a member.

2 – Cannibalize their member list: this may be a black hat marketing trick but trolling through the member list of a group will give you a sense of which organizations and professionals are personally aligning their brand with this group. Find connections that may serve your institution, business or nonprofit in its outreach, funding or employment efforts.

3 – Find people in your area who are engaged in your cause: this may be the strongest reason to venture into groups. Being able to sort member by location can help you connect with people who may not at the outset appear to be involved in your cause. Just because they are listed as a Financial Officer, doesn’t mean they aren’t involved in agribusiness in your area.

What has your LinkedIn groups experience been like? What positive outcomes have you encountered?