LinkedIn Groups are a great way to expand your network, especially for B2B businesses.
Most business owners know they should join social networks to promote their companies. Each network offers different opportunities: Facebook is the most popular, so it offers the best opportunity to expand your audience and gather leads; Twitter is the most popular for customer service; and LinkedIn is extremely popular amongst professionals. Which is why, if you are a business that sells primarily to other businesses, you must be more active on LinkedIn.
When it comes to connecting with people who mean business and generating leads, few can compare to the power of LinkedIn. Business decision-makers prefer LinkedIn, and you want to reach your target market. LinkedIn Groups are a great way to connect with these decision makers, regardless of industry or location. Here's how to go about it.
Find industry-, topic-, and location-specific groups that contain concentrations of people who you would like to network with, and join them. Spend time looking at the level of participation and conversations. If all you find is updates and members promoting their businesses, move on, as this group will be of little benefit.
LinkedIn has a "groups you may like" function that suggests groups based on your current profile and connections.
Connect with Members
Once you've joined a group, you have a common, natural connection with each group member, and LinkedIn gives you the ability to connect based on the mutual group membership. It's a little thing, but it's a step beyond simply saying you want to connect.
Look for active members, and add relevant replies to a number of posts. This starts the process of some one-on-one conversation, and since your replies are publicly available to all group members, you can use this technique to demonstrate that you have a lot to offer.
Don't be afraid to reach out to people and ask to connect. Send them a short note on why you joined the group, and share something in common that made you want to connect. Don't jump the gun and begin selling just yet; it's more likely your invitation will be ignored.
Once you get the hang of Groups, you should consider creating your own topic group. This is not a company group; it's one that is set up to discuss a topic that your prospects, customers, partners, and even competitors might find worthwhile.
A word of warning: if you want your group to grow and give you the ability to benefit by virtue of your status as the group's manager, you have to commit the time to curate, moderate, stimulate, and facilitate group participation.
Add starter content that gets people talking. Participate in conversations. Promote. But above all, do not tolerate spam and self-promotion.
Keep the group running actively, and you'll build a considerable amount of trust with specifically targeted business owners. Every single member of your group can then be considered a powerful lead.
This article originally appeared on Inc.