Image Credit - Nan Palmero via Flickr
So you heard a lot about LinkedIn and joined the party—you added your contacts to your network, built it further through their connections, optimized your profile, and joined a few groups as well. You probably think you’ve done as much as you need to, don’t you?
According to Craig Smith, the average LinkedIn user has only joined 7 of the maximum 50 groups allowed. If you’re one of those people then you’re doing your career a disservice, because LinkedIn groups can be an incredible resource if you use them to their fullest potential. So chances are you’re someone who isn’t using the groups as much as you should.
Here are eight reasons why they’re so important.
If you’re just starting out your career, switching to a new career, or are dealing with a situation you don’t know how to handle, there are tons of experts in groups that can give you the advice you need. You can get multiple bits of advice from different viewpoints that can help you determine what your best course of action is, in any circumstance.
If you want more exposure and attract as many unique visitors to your profile as you can, LinkedIn groups are by far and away your best resource. Most users will have a few hundred connections in their network—that’s the extent of potential exposure your connections can give you. Meanwhile, a single group can have tens of thousands of members with whom you can interact. Now multiply that by the maximum of 50 groups you can join, and you’re talking about an audience that can potentially number in the hundreds of thousands.
If you pick your groups carefully, they can all contain like-minded professionals with the same type of job, in the same industry, from the same university or geographic location, or with the same professional and casual interests. You could therefore already share some kind of connection with all those people. Furthermore, if they see you posting and interacting with the group in a courteous and helpful manner, they’ll be far more likely to accept your invitation to be a connection than if you should send out mass messages at random.
If you want people to find you when they’re running a search for professionals in your niche, groups can help in a few direct and indirect ways. The best way to improve your search rankings is to have lots of connections and get endorsements from them, and establishing a strong reputation in groups can help you with both of those. Furthermore, simply joining as many groups as you can and being active in them will directly help your rankings as well.
Occasionally another member of a group will post about a job opening at their company that you wouldn’t ever find out about otherwise. Again, there is strength in numbers here—the more groups you’re active in that are relevant to you, the more you’ll hear about these types of job opportunities. More importantly, if you establish strong relationships with active involvement in those groups there’s a greater chance that you can get a referral from that person who is already with the company.
Whether you’re actively looking for a job or not, it’s worthwhile if recruiters can find your profile when they’re looking to fill an open position. Around 90% of recruiters use LinkedIn to find potential candidates themselves, rather than having job hunters seek them out, and so they’re known to lurk in groups. Being active and standing out in 50 groups related to your job, industry, skill-set, and geographic location makes it easy for them to find you, as well as more likely that they’ll contact you directly.
In your groups of like-minded peers, you can ask for advice, give advice to others, post helpful and interesting links related to your job or industry, and write your own articles that shows your professional experience and expertise. The more you interact with your groups, the more you’re making people aware of who you are and what you stand for—you have the potential to create a reputation for yourself as someone to look to within your field, and that can take your career to a whole new level.
For people at all stages in their career, groups give you access to links, articles, and discussions on all the latest news and trends related to your job. If there’s a new bit of technology that is revolutionizing your field, you can find out about it quickly and make sure you have the training and competency to keep your skills relevant. If your position is trending towards becoming obsolete, you can find out what new jobs in the field are available that you can jump ship to before it’s too late. Information is power, and LinkedIn groups are a great source of it from the foremost minds in your industry.
Hopefully these points will help you realize the potential that LinkedIn groups can help you realize for your career. Just be sure to avoid overly spammy groups, and avoid just spamming in the groups yourselves. The key is both quantity and quality, not just one or the other.
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