October 22, 2014

LinkedIn Groups: Your Secret Weapon for Sales Success

linkedin groups for sales

Did you know that people who participate or engage in LinkedIn Group discussions get an average of four times as many profile views?

LinkedIn Groups allow you to connect with thousands, even hundreds of thousands of people. Many more than you could connect with via your first-level connections.

Using LinkedIn Groups for Sales Success

There are over two million groups on LinkedIn, with a focus on a variety of topics.  These include:

  • Corporate
  • College alumni
  • Nonprofit
  • Trade organizations
  • Conferences
  • Industry-specific
  • Interests – such as skiing or animals

The popularity of LinkedIn Groups led LinkedIn to recently updating the look of Groups pages, more streamlined and visually appealing. That’s good news, because many experts believe that LinkedIn Groups offer your best chance at business development success.

Where Do You Start?

With over two million groups, sometimes it’s hard to navigate successfully in the LinkedIn Groups world.

In the newly launched book, “42 Rules for 24-Hour Success on LinkedIn (2nd Edition): Learning to Generate Results Using LinkedIn for Leads” (by Chris Muccio and Peggy Murrah), the authors offer some advice.  They suggest that you should:

. . .join many groups, participate in a few, manage one.

Joining Groups

LinkedIn currently allows its members to join as many as 50 groups. Of course, it’s important to join groups that match your business focus.

How do you find groups to join?

Here are some tips shared in 42 Rules for 24-Hour Success on LinkedIn:

  • Check the profiles of your most valuable LinkedIn connections and see what groups they have joined.  Then choose those groups that align with your business focus.
  • Use the “Search” function in LinkedIn to find groups in a specific industry, skill set or topic.
  • Once you’ve joined a group, spend time determining if the group works for you.  You’ll want to see how active the participants in the group are, as well as the types of posts and value of information being shared.  If you see self-promotion and advertising, these are red flags.

Another reason to join groups (especially those with a large number of potential prospects) is the ability to send a message to anyone in your group, even those people who aren’t first-level connections.  This functionality opens up your ability to connect with thousands, even hundreds of thousands of people you might not have any other connection with.

Participate in a Few

The same rules apply to participation in groups as they do to the rest of LinkedIn:  Provide value.  Blatant sales pitches are a big turn-off.  Instead, provide and share useful information, ask and answer questions, offer comments and recommendations.

In a word:  Participate, and do so in a thoughtful way.

Once you’ve spent time investigating groups, you’ll want to actively participate in five to ten groups.

What kind of results can you achieve through Group participation?

Notes Alison Pruett, Marketing Manager – Client Engagement, for Waco, TX-based Interview Stream:

We have seen quite a bit of success from sharing our content to industry-specific groups, the more tailored the group is to specific interests and occupations, the more quality responses we receive. One of our posts to a smaller (300 member) group tailored specifically to one occupation group resulted in three demo requests. Our activity in various groups has also helped us gain more LinkedIn Company Page followers – about a 5% growth over the last month.

Dan Freyer, owner of Los Angeles-based AdWavez Marketing, offers this example:

Through a Linkedin satellite industry group connection, I was contacted by a company in Germany that was looking to expand in the U.S. and needed a marketing and advertising agency familiar with the satellite communications marketplace. Since we had the capabilities this company sought, they hired us to help them.

Create and Manage a Group

According to LinkedIn, more than 8,000 LinkedIn Groups are created every week. While creating and managing a group requires effort, there are many benefits.

First, it offers immediate credibility.  Similar to writing a book, creating a group means putting yourself out there as an expert in a certain area, especially as you continuously provide value through content and group interactions.

Next, by being the leader of a LinkedIn Group, people want to connect with you.  Group managers usually receive many requests to connect outside of the group, as a first-level connection.

Another major benefit is the ability to send weekly email messages to group members.  This is especially powerful for those group managers who build groups of thousands or more.

Last but not least, Group Managers often get the best sales opportunities.

Notes Charles Krugel, a management-side labor and employment lawyer and human resources counselor based in Chicago, IL.:

About three years ago, I started my own LinkedIn group. It now has 2,365 members from all over the world.

Krugel has gotten business from creating and managing his group, including landing a retainer client and clients that needed project work.

Fred Schenkelberg, Reliability Engineering and Management Consultant, manages six groups, and gets 50% of his revenue from leads generated via Linkedin, up from none three years ago. Most of his revenue is generated from his ASQ Reliability Division group.

Schenkelberg participates in 10-20 groups, and finds the time to do this by working with volunteers who manage the day-to-day activities in several of his groups, and using posting services such as Buffer to post content quickly.

If you’d like to start a group, LinkedIn’s Help Center offers answers to many questions regarding setup and management of groups. LinkedIn Groups offer many opportunities for small business owners to connect with others, build relationships, and get new business.

Sales Photo via Shutterstock

More in: 23 Comments ▼

Margie Zable Fisher


Margie Zable Fisher Margie Zable Fisher is the President of Zable Fisher Public Relations, helping small businesses connect with clients and potential clients online and offline through Public Relations, Social Media and Marketing. She offers free, award-winning tips at Zable Fisher Public Relations.

23 Reactions

  1. I’ve been slowly building up a LinkedIn group over the last couple years and it has over 1,000 members now. Great article!

  2. Thanks, Robert! What success have you seen by creating a LinkedIn Group?

  3. Hi Margie,

    Thanks for providing the tips. Totally agree with the value of LinkedIn groups. They help with leads, but also help users build credible connections and thought leadership. But, I think the LinkedIn group experience requires improvement. I would love to know how you tackle some of the issues I face:

    1 – If you are a member of multiple groups, email digests feel like a spam and most people I talk to have turned them off because they simply cannot keep up with them
    2 – There is a lot of promotional/spam discussions that puts people off
    3 – It is extremely difficult to reach discussions that are relevant to a user – total lack of filters (part of the problem is people who just post random stuff)
    4 – There is a bias towards discussions that are active even if they are old (even though there are few active discussions – they get most of the comments) – most other ‘relevant’ discussions go unnoticed

    Can you please share your thoughts on how you are solving these problems today? Also, what other improvements would you like to see in LinkedIn Groups? Please share..Thanks!

    • Hi Jasmeet,

      Thanks for your comments. I agree with much of your discussion. I posed your comments in one of my LinkedIn Groups and will share their thoughts as they come in.

      Thanks,
      Margie

    • Hi Jasmeet,

      I got some good ideas in response to my Groups posting from Andy Foote, of http://www.linkedinsights.com, Advanced LinkedIn Strategies:

      Hi Margie. My thoughts:

      (1) Turning off email digests is the only practical response to feeling inundated by multiple Groups activity. There are options to have digests delivered daily and weekly but my guess is that the vast majority of users will opt out altogether rather than move to weekly.

      (2) The level of promotion/spam in a Group is ultimately controlled by the Group Owner/Manager/Moderator. There are 2 pragmatic responses: (a) ignore it or (b) leave the Group.

      (3) If Group members are “posting random stuff” the Group Owner/Manager/Moderators are to blame since they ultimately have the ability to control the public conversation within their communities. Same 2 options as above.

      By a “lack of filters” I take that to mean difficulty finding content which that user finds relevant/useful. My answer here is core to (1) (2) (3) & (4): LinkedIn urgently needs to find a mechanism to distill and deliver content which is highly customized to each user. We see this in the way that news is delivered online. Increasingly, customers expect to have only relevant information fed to their devices and for the most part, they are willing to let cookies/opt-ins/share permissions do some of that work. LinkedIn Groups are currently not set up to deliver customized content/info. Conversations are missed or repeated and lost. People either don’t know how or can’t be bothered to use the search box. Because the Discussions area is woefully inadequate people don’t tend to use it. Promotions & Jobs are used even less. LinkedIn search outside of Groups is set up to provide results customized to you but does not go far enough. For example, I can set up twitter to send me notifications for whenever my name or my blog is mentioned, LinkedIn should be doing this for users on its platform. Digests set up for word-specific mentions would be very popular imho. It’s baffling to me that LinkedIn has to date not found a way to leverage the mountains of rich data to enrich the experience of it’s paying and non-paying customers.

      Best,
      Andy

      • Hi Margie,

        Thanks for posting a reply to my questions. This is really helpful. Can you please share the link to the LinkedIn discussion so I can participate as well? At WorkLife (http://worklife.io), we are building a platform that makes it easy for users to participate in LinkedIn Groups. We are taking the approach of customizing the experience (and removing spam) similar to what Andy has mentioned. We are doing this for all of user’s Groups – so, you can consider it a smart dashboard for all your LinkedIn Groups activity.

        Thanks again for great tips in this article. Just an FYI – I did not get an email when you posted a reply to my comment even though I selected to be notified for follow up comments. I am guessing this will be helpful for your other users as well and can increase number of comments you get on your posts.

        Thanks,
        Jasmeet Sawhney

    • Hi Jasmeet,

      The group discussion where Andy posted is in the LinkedIn Groups Product Forum.

      Thanks,
      Margie

  4. LinkedIn currently allows its members to join as many as 50 groups. Of course, it’s important to join groups that match your business focus.

  5. Some great tips on using LinekdIn groups more effectively. I started a group last summer, but haven’t done the best job maintaining it. I find being active in a few groups helps. It’s finding the groups that have discussions can be difficult as a lot of people share their stuff, but hardly interact with others.

    Maybe I am in the wrong groups :/

  6. Margie,

    Great tips! I haven’t created a single group on LinkedIn (maybe I should in the near future) but I joined dozens of LinkedIn groups.

    Although I’m not selling anything (I run media/online magazines), I do get traffic from the groups I join.

  7. Hi Margie, thank you for sharing the info with us!
    Out of curiosity, what are the first steps in promoting your newly created LinkedIn group? Clearly it is tough to stand out when so many groups are being created every day, and I would love to check out any information on ways to promote your group without being spammy.

    • Hi Viktoriya,

      The first step in getting people to join your LinkedIn group is to invite your mailing list. Be sure to explain what your group has to offer, and the benefits of joining your group.

      Thanks,
      Margie

  8. I’m in a few groups on my Linkedin account. I find that I get a lot out of them when it comes to product knowledge. One of my favorite for laughs is this group called ‘late payers’ and it lists all of these companies and people who are consistently late in paying their invoices on time.

  9. I’ve had a LinkedIn account for a year or two, but have never done that much with it. It also didn’t occur to me that I could set up a group though I’ve joined several in the past. I might have to spend a bit more time on LinkedIn. Thanks for the post.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>



Compare your business to the industry - Try our new tool