If you’re a regular reader of this blog you know that professional services firms benefit from using social media.  But do you know exactly how to proceed?  For our seasoned readers and newcomers alike, I have outlined details on how to make the most of the groups feature on LinkedIn, one of the most powerful social platforms out there.  Whether your professional service is management consulting, human resources, law or another service, I can’t overstate the importance of dedicating time to LinkedIn. 

Why LinkedIn over Other Platforms?

Now in its 11th year, LinkedIn has 300 million users in more than 200 countries.  Books have been written about it (along with guides like this one from Hinge), investors have clamored for it, and many, many people have received business through it.  In our research, professional service firms list LinkedIn as their #1 social media traffic source, proving that use of LinkedIn can lead to many referrals for your firm.  Its focus on business over personal connections makes LinkedIn the ideal place for professionals.

A common misconception is that social media is just “social.”  Sure, some platforms are not worth a business person’s time, but with LinkedIn there is great purpose.  It combines in-person networking with the ability to present your expertise to a very targeted audience.

Both high and average growth firms list LinkedIn as their most effective social media platform, showing that strategy and engagement can make a big difference in the success of your firm’s social media marketing.

Connecting with other executives is the straightforward way of building your network, and personal preferences will determine how open you are to connecting with relative strangers or whether you want to limit your access.  Many professionals consider LinkedIn simply an online Rolodex, so they get many contacts for possible future use. 

Once you establish your network, the best way to engage and interact with them is through groups.  Below are three steps to get started.

3 Ways to Use LinkedIn Groups

1. Find the Right Groups. There are more than one million groups on LinkedIn and, even though you can join up to 50, don’t spread yourself too thin.  Instead, search for groups that are highly targeted for management consulting, human resources, law or other services industries.  Or, find groups based on a specialty such as recruiting within human resources. 

Review the group’s activity to make sure joining the group is beneficial. Look for a high level of engagement so you are spending your time in the right place.

Another key factor to check is the number of existing members.  Groups with thousands of members may be too large to get the exposure you want, so look for even more refined subgroups of a group.  Similarly, a group with just a few members won’t be as active as you need.

Most importantly, don’t focus on the numbers of members.  Evaluate your group choice based on the level and quality of engagement.  Review the recent posts to see if the discussion is lively and whether there are high numbers of “likes.”  If participants are responding well to the content, that’s a good indication that it’s high quality. 

2. Participate in the Conversations.  Contribute to the discussions in order to build your authority within your network.  Ideally, each comment adds to the conversation by relating to a previous comment.  If you respond to a particular comment, use the names of the people you are interacting with to address them directly.

3. Share Content and Start Discussions. Having something to say doesn’t mean talking about you, your firm and the awards you’ve won.  Sometimes a little self-promotion is fine, but audiences are in the groups to learn about issues and topics that will help them succeed.  So, as you participate in group conversations, be mindful that the best way to increase your visibility and reputation is to provide thought-provoking content.  Group members will respond more if you give them the right level of encouragement, such as framing your content around a question and then asking follow-up questions to the responses given. 

As you spend more time in your groups, you’ll gain a better understanding of what types of interactions lead to the best response.  Through building your activity and networking base, you will be able to get the most out of this very useful LinkedIn feature.

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