LinkedIn Groups: All the Benefits of an Industry Conference Without the Hangover

Posted By on March 19, 2014

LinkedIn Groups are a conference that never ends.

LinkedIn Groups are a conference that never ends.

The founder of LinkedIn Reid Hoffman must have been a conference junkie. If you think about it, LinkedIn offers the same thing as real-world industry conferences–you make contacts, share knowledge, network for jobs, and are among the first to hear news. The only thing missing is unwinding in the hotel bar after a day spent breathing circulated air in dim conference rooms. Or is it?

You actually can find virtual conference buddies if you participate in LinkedIn Groups, and those connections will help you build your reputation in your industry both in the real world and on social media. Identifying the most relevant groups is the first step in getting started; the second is pretty much learning to hang out.

Finding A Group Using LinkedIn Search

There are more than 1.2 million LinkedIn Groups with 200 conversations taking place every second. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by your choices.

LinkedIn gives you two primary options for finding Groups relevant to you: a search tool just for Groups, which lets you filter results; and a feature called “Groups You Might Like,” which shows you Groups that LinkedIn “thinks” will interest you (just like Amazon shows you books you might like based on your purchasing history).

To search for groups, select Groups from the dropdown list to the left of the Search box on any page. Type in your keywords or group name, then on the search results page, refine the results by using the checkboxes on the left.

Search LinkedIn Groups by selecting Groups from the Search dropdown menu

Search LinkedIn Groups by selecting Groups from the Search dropdown menu

 

You can filter search results for LinkedIn Groups in the same way you can filter job results.

You can filter search results for LinkedIn Groups in the same way you can filter job results.

Or find groups by clicking around in the box on your LinkedIn home page called “Groups You May Like.”

LinkedIn's Groups You Might Like feature

LinkedIn’s algorithm tracks your preferences and shows you Groups you might like.

Finding Groups the Old Fashioned Way – Via Humans

Search tools are useful but the results can still leave you guessing. It’s a little like choosing a panel to attend at a conference. You’re not sure from the description whether it will be as useful as advertised, so before walking through the door, you might talk to a colleague who knows one of the panelists or look up a book she’s written. The same strategy works for LinkedIn Groups.

  • Reach out to your LinkedIn connections—it’s a great way to strike up a substantive conversation with relative strangers—and ask them about which Groups they find useful. (It goes without saying you should ask friends and colleagues in the real world.)
  • Look up which Groups industry leaders belong to. You can see them at the bottom of their and everyone else’s profile. If leaders join the Group, it’s no doubt reputable and could make you the same–if you become an active member
  • Join groups you’re friends are in so you feel comfortable talking
  • Check out how many people belong to a Group before joining. My Content Strategy Group has almost 17,000 members, and while that’s not many by LinkedIn standards, it is for the content strategy profession.

One More Trick: Twitter and LinkedIn Group Are Each Other’s Best Friend

Recently, out of the blue, content strategy professor Hilary Marsh contacted me to ask if she could use one of my blog posts as part of her curriculum. I’d had the chutzpa to shamefully confess in a blog post a mistake I’d made developing a content strategy for a client. She read my post after reading my tweet linking to it. Of course I said yes. Of course we immediately each followed each other on Twitter and connected on LinkedIn.

By the end of the day we were chatting on the phone—over two landlines no less. I asked her if she happened to know
a content strategy professor named Andrea Zeller at the University of Washington whose class I was scheduled to speak at that night. Nope. Found out later Andrea didn’t know her but thought Hilary might manage the content strategy group Andrea participates in. Turns out Hilary does, which meant I joined right away, and of course, Hilary approved my request superfast.

How Did I Live Without It?

Hilary Marsh’s Content Strategy Group is now an integral part of how I conduct business on a daily basis.

  • I learn about the latest trends in my profession
  • I discover articles and posts that I can turn into tweets or post on Two Pens’ company page
  • I promote Two Pens’ training and creative services—be sure to do this for your company infrequently

It has many other benefits, but one of the most important ones—I recognize names on real-world conference badges and can share coffee and notes on the best panels to attend.