LinkedIn 101: Using Groups

LinkedIn 101: Using Groups

by Kerry Scott on 15 July 2009

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This is part three in our series on using LinkedIn to find job opportunities. On Monday we talked about how to get started. Yesterday we focused on making connections. Tomorrow we’ll wrap up with information on some of LinkedIn’s other features, like profile pictures, recommendations, and status updates. If you want to make sure you don’t miss a post, you can subscribe to Clue Wagon via RSS and get posts delivered right to your desktop. If that’s too fancy, you can also subscribe via email.

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Here we go!

Okay, so I am a huge Minnesota Twins fan, but how will joining the Twins Fan LinkedIn group help my career?

JENNIFER: Joining a LinkedIn group (in general) could be helpful in a number of ways. Most important is the ability to network, find resources and share information with other like-minded individuals in the “Discussions” tab. Much like LinkedIn Answers, you can ask and answer questions in an effective way – typically focused around the purpose of the Group. There’s also a “News” tab where you can share or read links to articles or blog posts (again likely related to the Group’s purpose). Posting/answering Discussions and News items could help you in establishing some expertise or relationships with other Group members and those relationships could develop into business opportunities.

When you join a LinkedIn Group, you also get to display the Group badge on your Profile, so others can see your areas of interest or affiliations. You may be surprised to find that others noting that you’re a Twins fan becomes a connection point and opportunity to establish a potential relationship or conversation. For example, a Recruiter who has looked at your Profile and contacted you about a job opportunity may be able to build some rapport and start the conversation with you by connecting on your shared love of the Twins.

BETSY: Maybe.  But are you joining that group to help with your career? Or to commiserate with like-minded individuals? In my opinion, if you are a marketing maven in the outdoor industries, and you are looking for a job in outdoor or action sport, you should join groups where you can talk shop—Like Action & Sport Innovators.  You can join discussions around current topics, or start discussions in an area where you can give an opinion that is related to your skill sets and strengths and hopefully get noticed by colleagues.   If you are a die-hard Twins fan, and want to rally around Morneau getting to the All-Star game, then, join the Twins fan group!

KERRY’S NOTE: Twins fans are 27% cooler than regular people.  Go Twins!

What are the recommended guidelines for joining groups?  I don’t want to be a group whore but I want to join enough groups to help my exposure and networking.

JENNIFER: I’d recommend joining only groups that reflect well on your “personal brand”. For example, if you’re in HR, join HR-related groups—not only for the networking and resources you can tap into, but it helps to “brand” your LinkedIn Profile as an HR professional. As for other groups, adding a few related to your hobbies or interests won’t hurt (and could increase your opportunity to network with others), but make sure you’ve got a nice mix of professional Groups to your credit before adding those. You can join up to 50 Groups and there’s no real reason not to, but I’d recommend having a plan or purpose for joining each one.

If you don’t find the content shared or networking valuable in a Group, it’s easy to “un-join”. Also, if you’re in recruiting, it’s pretty common to join Groups where potential candidates may be members because you can communicate directly with others in shared Groups who are not a 1st degree connection without having to have a paid account. Once a Recruiter has completed a search, they may drop out of a Group in order to be able to join another and stay under the 50 Group limit. Typically, you can re-join a Group at any time.

BETSY: I think you should join groups that are interesting to you, and have some correlation to your career.  And when you join a group, participate in the discussions because that is the only way you’ll get exposure.

How much should I participate in groups?  Is just joining them enough or do I need to respond to questions and other posts?

JENNIFER: Participating in Groups is a great way to connect with others and build relationships. If you’re regularly answering questions within the group and sharing your expertise, you’ll quickly be branded as a “go-to” person, which could turn into business or job opportunities. Similarly, asking great questions or sharing helpful resources can add to your professional reputation as well. Lurking within Groups is certainly okay, but just like an in-person networking function, the most value is going to be gained by participating and joining in the “conversation”!

KERRY’S NOTE: Betsy’s company blog, ripe, has a blog post that tells you more about growing your network in general, and another on growing it  through LinkedIn Groups. Jennifer’s blog, CincyRecruiter, has a excellent post on just about everything you can think of related to using LinkedIn to find a job.

Photo by Yodel Anecdotal

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{ 2 comments }

laurie ruettimann July 15, 2009 at 11:01 pm

I was a horrible LinkedIn group whore until I stopped the madness. I couldn’t handle all the email. Now I join groups that are solely related to my career and have quality output. It’s a case-by-case basis.

laurie ruettimann’s last blog post..Job Applications Suck

Kerry Sandberg Scott July 16, 2009 at 6:24 am

I’m a member of a billion groups, all joined in a fit of okay-now-I’m-really-going-to-get-into-this. I don’t even read all the emails. I really need to sit down and figure out the few that are most useful, and then dump the rest.

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