LinkedIn Groups are virtual meeting rooms (or forums) where people with similar interests can host and hold discussions around subjects they want to share or learn more about.
Engaging in groups allows you to display your expertise around a subject and start to grow relationships with like-minded people.
Many of these people may be colleagues, who could offer solutions to certain challenges you may have been facing, or could provide collaborative opportunities to help you grow your business in the future.
Others could be prospective customers who are using groups to network and also find solutions of their own.
By sharing your knowledge, participating in conversations, and being a reliable source of information inside the group, you’ll have the chance to build relationships of value that will help you do more business.
LinkedIn makes it easy to find groups that are applicable to your business, or the audience you’re striving to reach. Within LinkedIn, you can perform a search in the search feature based on keywords and filter to find the most appropriate group.
For each group found in your search, you have the option to view who in your network belongs to those groups. Joining groups that your connections are already members of can help you nurture those connections you’ve made on LinkedIn.
Go one step further and reach out to your network asking them what they think about the groups they are part of. This can help to continue building the relationships you already have, while also helping you to understand what groups may be right for you.
On LinkedIn there are both public and private groups. If they’re public, you just need to click the “Ask to Join” button when you find a group you’re interested in and you’ll gain access instantly. On the other hand, private groups require you to request an invitation from the manager of said group to gain access.
You are able to join up to 100 groups, but be aware that many groups aren’t actively managed. Make sure to spend the bulk of your time on the crucial ones you find that are managed well and have constant interactions.
When you join a group, take the time to acquaint yourself with the content people are sharing, and types of questions that are being asked within the group.
Relevant content is the only way to take full advantage of a LinkedIn Group. When you share content that others are interested in, your chance of “connecting” (and building a relationship) with that person is much higher than if you just hit “connect.” Use groups to strengthen relationships, with your ultimate goal of connecting on and offline with group members.
Here are a few tips to remember when participating in a LinkedIn Group:
1. Exhibit your expertise by answering questions that others have asked
2. Post articles and ask questions
3. Don’t over-promote!
4. Make that connection.
5. Don’t forget other networks
Hopefully, by now, you’re convinced that the answer is a resounding YES! The ability to reach people you would otherwise not have access to is one of the main reasons that social media works, and LinkedIn Groups are definitely no exception.
Get out there, begin by searching for relevant groups and joining three of them. Keep an open mind and see what relationships you can build by engaging with the right audience; you never know what kind of possibilities you can unlock by taking just one step outside your comfort zone!
For more information on LinkedIn Groups, please access this link.
Please note that this blog post is the 4th of a series of 4.
Do feel free to go back and read the other parts of this Networking Series. Start with Networking Part One: How Relationships Impact Sales
Not only is virtual networking here to stay, but it’s an integral key to your future success as a business; helping you connect with a wider audience to exchange data and build relationships.
Online networking will continue to flourish post-COVID, and at the very least, will complement your national and international work; playing an important role in increasing your export opportunities.
Social media platforms are an asset when it comes to meeting new business contacts, especially when it comes to LinkedIn Groups geared toward manufacturing. Your approach can be very formal or casual; such as virtually meeting up for a coffee or a drink.
Whatever your approach, it is always best to remember how we make connections in real life (meet, build a rapport and then eventually sell) and adapt it when connecting ONLINE.
As Robin Sharma once said, “The business of business is relationships; the business of life is human connection.”
So, take a step out of your comfort zone and make that connection; you never know what may come of it!
Here are a few LinkedIn Groups manufacturers should become familiar with:
1. Manufacturing Operations Management
2. Manufacturing USA
3. Manufacturing, Wholesale & Distribution Forum
4. Manufacturing & Industrial
5. Lean Manufacturing Network
6. Metalcasting, 3D Metal Printing, Metal Additive Manufacturing and Foundry International Group
7. Electronic/Electrical Manufacturing
8. Electronics Manufacturing and Supply Chain
9. Steel Manufacturing
10. Metal Additive Manufacturing
You can find more groups and further information about them here and here.
To learn more about or from the author of this series (Ingor van Rooi), please connect with her on LinkedIn here.