In our previous post, Ask and Answer Questions on LinkedIn, we talked how to use the LinkedIn Answers feature to attract the attention of your connections and build your reputation as an expert. By the way, we go into much more detail about our Infinite Pipeline Relationship Development process in our new book, The Infinite Pipeline: How to Master Social Media for B2B Sales Success – Sales Person Edition. See the bottom of this post for more info.
In this post, we take a look at a how to build your brand by creating a group on LinkedIn, and talk about some of the key strategies involved in this process.
Create a LinkedIn Group
One great way to build your brand on LinkedIn is to create your own group. We don’t recommend naming the group after your company unless you want to have a group for current or former staff. Rather, determine a concept or problem of concern to your target audience and create a group around that.
You should name the group using keywords, because it’s all about search, especially since, according to a mid-2010 article on TechCrunch, there are more 650,000 groups on LinkedIn, with the largest representing 200,000 members.
But don’t create a group without a plan. By creating a group, you are making a commitment to your community, and you had better figure out what you’re going to do before you take the plunge.
LinkedIn Group Strategy
There are two general types of groups on LinkedIn: open groups and closed groups. The choices are known as “Open Access” and “Request to Join” on the group creation form. More specifically, you can designate your group as:
You’ll be able to upload a logo for the group, so you should think about whether you need a new logo or if you’ll use your enterprise’s logo.
Group search is only done on the 300 word summary so make sure that summary contains keywords potential members are likely to use to find the group. Other important settings are:
- Display this group in the Group directory — If you want to be found, be sure to check this
- Allow group members to display the logo on their profiles — This is another great way to get found; often members will check out the groups their connections belong to; checking this also will send notifications to your connections about the group creation
- Pre-approve members with the following email domain(s) — This is especially useful if for alumni and corporate groups
Once you’ve created the group, you can explicitly invite 200 of your contacts to join. Be sure to do that.
Next, you’ll need a plan to recruit members. Decide what kinds of people you’d like to join, and target them on LinkedIn using the techniques described in the earlier sections. It’s a good idea to post a message on the group’s discussion forum encouraging members to display the group logo on their profiles.
You also need to establish a policy on the types of posts that will be permitted on the group. As group manager, you have plenty of power to police the group, but you need to be sure group members understand your policies. See the previous blog post Dealing with Negatives for more information on establishing community policies.
Among the policies you’ll need to consider:
- Preventing LION Invites — LIONs love groups and often repeatedly cross-post invitations for members to connect with them on groups. You need to decide whether to prohibit this type of posting, and how you’ll deal with LIONs in general.
- Prevent Members from Repeatedly Posting the Same Post — You’ll find that some of your members will view the group solely as a way to promote themselves or their event. Establish a policy regarding this and other repetitive posts.
Finally, even if you’re not too interested in creating a group, depending on your situation you may want to do so anyway, just to preempt someone else from doing it. For example, the ex-Microsoft employee group is run by an Apple recruiter. Think seriously about this if your business has a vocal opposition that might want to create a group under your name just to trash you.
Next up: Create a LinkedIn Ad
Create a LinkedIn Group is the 98th in a series of excerpts from our book, Be a Person: the Social Operating Manual for Enterprises (itself part of a series for different audiences). We’re just past page 280. At this rate it’ll be a long time before we get through all 430 pages, but luckily, if you’re impatient, the book is available in paper form at bit.ly/OrderBeAPerson and you can save $5 using Coupon Code 6WXG8ABP2
Get our new book, The Infinite Pipeline: How to Master Social Media for Business-to-Business Sales Success online here. You can save $5 using Coupon Code 62YTRFCV
What Others Are Saying
“Infinite Pipeline offers practical advice for using social media to extend relationship selling online. It’s a great way to get crazy-busy prospects to pay attention.”
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“Sales is all about relationships and trust. Infinite Pipeline is the ‘how to’ guide for maximizing social networks to find and build relationships, and generate trust in our digital age.”
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—Lori Ruff, The LinkedIn Diva, Speaker/Author and CEO of Integrated Alliances