Recently, I sat in the midst of over 200 professionals looking to understand and better utilize the networking prowess of one of my favorite social media sites: LinkedIn. The attendees at this unique LinkedIn Live event in Portland, Oregon, were from a variety of industries; at my table alone sat two financial services advisors, a software outsourcing executive, two B2B survey company representatives, a relocation expert, and a content writer.
While the attendee cross-section was interesting, the most important take-away was the consistent message by presenters: Groups is one of the most powerful LinkedIn networking tools. Groups can help you become better informed about products, services, and industries, and they can better prepare you for client and prospect networking.
So just what are Groups and where do you find them? Groups are basically membership clubs formed by companies, organizations or individuals, and they are used to share information and insight on a specific topic or interest. For example, here are a handful of Groups that I follow: 401(k), 401K Sales, 401 TPA Network, and Advisors’ BUZZSTORM.
Membership in Groups can be open to anyone or may require specific credentials and/or approval by the Group creator. By selecting Groups on the pull-down menu to the left of the search bar you can search for Groups by name or topic.
Granted, before you dive into Groups, you need to make sure your Profile is complete. However, once that is done, your next step is to start understanding and utilizing Groups. To optimize and leverage your Groups for maximum financial advisor social media success, consider the following:
- Enhance networking and prospecting. Looking to make a stronger connection with an existing client or a potential prospect? Research what Groups they are following and join them.
- Become a thought-leader. Start making a presence in a Group with thoughtful contributions. Just be sure to first study the Group dynamics and the primary contributors, and only comment when you have something worthwhile to offer!
- Use Groups with Connection requests. When you have a shared Group in common, a Connection request shows Groups as one of the options for “How do you know . . .” the person. You will get a much higher response rate to Connection requests if you are members in the same Group and are an active and thoughtful contributor.
- Limit yourself to Five or Six Groups. I know once you find all these great Groups you will want to join them all, but resist the temptation and try to keep the number to under 10. Only join a Group if you can actively follow and contribute at least a couple times a week; don’t dabble!
- Enhance your personal brand. Once you become comfortable with Groups, consider creating your own to improve your personal or company branding by supplying specific content, conducting surveys or, building a following. Just understand you need to carefully curate the content and monitor the membership.