With more than 259 million members in over 200 countries and territories, LinkedIn is the largest professional network on the Internet. And with 3 million LinkedIn Company Pages already in existence, businesses have recognized the need to have a presence on this social networking site. But, while having a company LinkedIn page is important for awareness, visibility and branding – businesses should not overlook the power of LinkedIn groups.
There are more than 2.1 million LinkedIn groups ranging in topic from real estate and healthcare to technology and tourism. We often recommend for our clients to get involved in specific groups and at times, even suggest starting a group themselves.
We recently helped a client in the energy field spread the word about their energy efficiency program utilizing LinkedIn. Not only did we join relevant groups – architecture, smart energy solution providers, contractors, hospitality, higher education groups – all of this client’s target markets, but we also helped them start, manage and monitor a program group of their own.
By joining these industry LinkedIn groups we were able to establish a real connection with group members while also touting the benefits of the energy efficiency program, sharing relevant industry specific information, discussing current news and trends and promoting informative company events. This was done by commenting on other group members’ inquiries, posting questions and asking for feedback.
At the same time, we helped this client grow their own LinkedIn community to more than 1,000 group members. This positioned them as experts in the industry and as curators of content. The LinkedIn group became a highly informative place to get the latest information, learn about trends, answer and ask questions, and market their events, webinars and the overall energy efficiency program.
Here are three best practices that energy companies (and most any other business for that matter) can apply to LinkedIn groups:
Use the search function on LinkedIn to discover what groups make sense for your business. With so many groups out there, be selective and only join the groups you feel would be of value. In addition, take a look at recent postings and decide if the posts are something of interest to your company or a topic you can comment on or help with. Also look at the members of the group and see if they are the right targets. Are these the people you’d like to do business with in the future?
Commit to Participation
We also recommend only joining a handful of groups. Time is money and it’s more important to actively participate in each group you join, rather than spread yourself too thin and not be fully committed to the group. The more you participate the more relationships you build and the more business you obtain.
Once you’ve connected with someone via a LinkedIn group, be sure to connect with them on LinkedIn, other social networking sites and also in real life. Further putting in effort to get to know someone in the group will benefit your business in time. Send them an InMail message and invite them, when appropriate, to meet for a cup of coffee. Afterall, it’s all about building relationships!