by Jeff Molander
Time to read: 3.5 minutes. In 2008 LinkedIn introduced its Group functionality. Since then those of us using LinkedIn for business have been tortured by inappropriate, low-value comments and linking—people trying to promote “their thing.” Spam. So after all these years what have we learned? As it turns out a lot. Here are 3 quick, new best practices for LinkedIn Group management and a proven system to use LinkedIn for sales prospecting.
Here’s how to create, manage and/or participate in a LinkedIn Group and actually get something out of it… and make sure members do too!
The Problem in a Nutshell
A lot of people are coming into LinkedIn Groups armed with what does NOT work. Yet it’s not our fault. We have been mis-lead or are just uninformed. We see people doing things that don’t work. They’ve never worked—have never been good ways to network, collaborate or sell. Yet we’re not sure what to do. So we mimic what we see.
And the cycle continues. We’re only human after all!
Yet there ARE a few Groups out there that are remarkable. There are people creating meaningful relationships, partnerships leads and sales. I’m one of them.
NOTE: I’m working up a case study on best practices for LinkedIn Groups—profiling a Group that grew to 2000 members (and is still growing) in just 3 months. It has an astounding number of REAL, meaningful conversations going on within it… a small business Group. I will blog about HOW they’re creating success in great detail—show you how to create a Group that fosters learning and, yes, networking that results in sales leads. STAY TUNED!
The Bottom Line
- It’s always been this way.
Most people have poor networking skills and don’t know how to sell very well. The Web / Linkedin Groups just gives MORE of those people the ability to get out there and demonstrate this—faster and easier.
- Finding the “good models” to learn from is more difficult now.
All we tend to see is the noise of “what does not work.”
- Succeeding is real work, requires discipline.
Creating conversation that has a worthwhile outcome is, and will forever be, a mixture of art, science. Finding a NEW way to create MEANING in the lives of another person is a learned talent that requires practice, discipline.
The Solution is Not Passion
How many times have you heard an expert say, “success is ALL about tapping into your passion!” Well, that’s mostly bullshit. People won’t listen to you, or buy your thing… or participate in meaningful ways in a Group unless you FIRST create meaning for them.
You’ve got to prove something to them beyond your personality or your “cool Group culture.” You’ve first got to show them (if not help them create) a reason to trust you—give a positive result first.
People don’t want to buy into passion, personality or “brand culture.” They want to buy into (believe in) a fix—a solution to their problem or unique experience your Group… or product or service provides.
For instance, the key to creating “content (blogs, videos, etc.) that sells your thing” is creating (yourself) LinkedIn conversations that are actually designed to go somewhere. The key to creating a Group that takes people to where they want to go is real work. But good news: There is a process.
The Solution is PROCESS
I’m finding the ONLY way to:
a) manage a LinkedIn group that creates meaning for members
b) help them get noticed on LinkedIn so they can…
b) get into a conversation that’s going somewhere
is to have something ORIGINAL (meaningful) to say about a way (a process) for people listening to get what it is that they want.
And guess what? That doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with how passionate you are about your LinkedIn Group, product or service. As Matt Linderman of 37Signals says…
The problem with the “follow your passion” chorus: We can’t all love the products we work with. Someone has to do the jobs and sell the things that don’t seem sexy but make the world go round.
If all you or your Group has to offer the world is pre-packaged versions of what people already know—and you expose it inside LinkedIn Groups—don’t be surprised if nobody notices. Moreover don’t be surprised if nobody clicks, calls, emails, etc. And don’t be surprised if you’re a Group manager when you, in essence, run a group monologue!
So ask yourself: “What process can I set up to teach people in my group a better way to interact? What guides can I provide them that will help them work diligently to a) have something to say more often and b) say it in a way that will give them more of what they want?” (connecting with others to learn from, sales leads, peer support, etc.)
3 NEW Best Practices for LinkedIn Group Management
I am creating leads and sales using LinkedIn Groups using a pretty simple system. I make sure Group members (including me):
- Create valuable content (answers to burning questions prospects/customers ask all the time)
- Monitor for people demonstrating need for it (in LinkedIn Groups)
- Reveal answers in ways that create cravings for more of what we have to share (provoke interaction that creates discussion outside of LinkedIn!)
Worth noting: When I post insightful articles, quotes, videos, etc. I often do NOT link back to my content (on my site). Everyone does that and it doesn’t work. Instead, I’m provoking my target market into contacting me.
I already know this approach works (outside of LinkedIn). So why not leverage LinkedIn Groups in a way that tempts group members to email me for more details… or click over to my profile and then onward to my blog to acquire the knowledge?
(to more clearly understand the thought I just provoked)
I do it all the time now—and I encourage Group members to do it—because it works. So why can’t any of you all execute this same idea? Sure, you’ve got to trust that this system will work but give it a shot. For me, the results rolled in within a week based on my 3rd attempt. I netted a dozen or so industry-specific leads and a handful of immediate sales. I love using LinkedIn for business leads because it’s so simple and time effective.
photo credit: anumodbalan
About the Author
Jeff Molander+ is the authority on making social media sell. He's a sought-after corporate trainer to small businesses and global corporations like Brazil's Petrobras. He's an accomplished entrepreneur, having co-founded what is today the Google Affiliate Network. Jeff also serves as adjunct digital marketing faculty at Loyola University’s school of business. His new book, Off The Hook Marketing: How to Make Social Media Sell for You, is first to offer businesses a clear, practical way to create leads and sales with technology platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and blogs.