LinkedIn is a great tool for building relationships for those who know what they are doing.Â Many LinkedIn users think that they should join as many groups as they possibly can to maximize their ability to use the site successfully.Â They end up spreading themselves too thin and don't have time to make lasting connections in any of them.
Analyze and Select Groups Based on Opportunities They Provide
When you are using LinkedIn, you need to plan your attack.Â Start off by identifying your goals and your target market.Â You may be blocked from accessing the group before you join, so you can't always know which groups are good fits.Â That's fine, because you can always change your mind about a group afterward.
However, you should have a general idea about which groups you want to target from the beginning.Â I use a few general filters for selecting a group:
1. Title and description: This is obviously the first place to start.Â You want to know what the group is about before you join.Â Sometimes this information is a little misleading, but it should give you a general idea of whether or not the group will be a good fit for you.
2. Membership Size: How many people are in the group?Â If it is under a hundred then you are probably going to have a hard time making reliable connections.Â If it is significantly more than a thousand, your voice is likely to be drowned out by the other members.Â Look for a moderately sized group where you can engage and make real networking connections.
3. Demographics: You need a general idea of who is in the group.Â You may not have time to scan the entire membership list, but if the first twenty names at the top of the list are in an industry or geographical area outside your target audience then you may have chosen the wrong group.Â Of course, this applies more to groups with niche audiences.Â If you joined a group with a more general theme, then you are going to find a lot of diversity.Â In that case, you will need to feel it out a little before committing.
Participate in Discussions
There is no point in joining a LinkedIn group if you aren't going to give back to it.Â The best place to start is by joining existing discussions.Â You can find the most popular discussions at the top of the page.Â Comments you add to these discussions will provide more traction than discussions buried deeper in the page.
After you have spent some time learning the group, you can start your own discussions as well.Â Regardless of whether or not you start your discussion or join an existing one, you want to add back to the community.Â You don't want to annoy people and the last thing you want to do is spam the group.
Remember, the purpose of social media is to engage with others so you can build a networking connection.
This is the hardest thing for LinkedIn members to get right.Â You need to be a regular contributor to any networking site. Â If you don't check in with people regularly, they are less likely to acknowledge your contributions.
Kalen Smith is the founder of Engineer-a-Business, a provider of business-to-business services and informational products for developing technology businesses. Read more about Kalen here.