January 10, 2009

LinkedIn Groups - What to do once you have one

So yesterday, we talked about the steps to take in managing the rogues within your membership who have started their own LinkedIn Groups using your trademarks without your consent. While those were some good beginning steps, I would love to have your thoughts on what I missed.

Today, I wanted to discuss an important topic also relating to LinkedIn Groups – important steps to take once your organization has one to make it work well.

1. Promote, Promote, Promote – Once your group is set up, be sure to have a promotion strategy in place to get the word out about it. This will not only give the group some visibility and legitimacy, but make the community larger and of more value to your members more quickly.

2. Pre-approve key members – Once you have set up your group, pre-approve a list of people who are likely joiners to take the step away from them having to request entry. That will let them know that you were thinking about them specially when the group was set up.

3. When a member joins, reach out to them – While this can become cumbersome when a lot of requests are made to join on a daily basis, it is a nice touch to show the members that you appreciate them joining and that you hope they will find value in the association’s group.

I have a pretty standard message that I send when someone joins: “Good afternoon (Name) – I have added you to (organization)’s Group on LinkedIn. I hope you can make some great connections! Please let me know if there is anything that I can do for you as we move forward. Best Wishes, Bruce Hammond.” Short, sweet and to the point, and there are times that I will add other personal messages to the notes if I notice something in their profile that I think is interesting. That leads me directly to my next point:

4. Mine the Data in their Profile – Taking the minute or two to take a look at their profile to glean any necessary information is another very important element of having a LinkedIn Group. These members are sharing information with you that can be of a lot of use to you as you try to segment and personalize your communication efforts with your members. If you see from their profile that they received an advanced degree that you didn’t know about, that might be helpful. The profiles show their previous employers, which also may be beneficial in some cases. It also provides a great deal of additional information like personal web sites, widgets with upcoming trips and travel, a photo, etc. Mining this data that they are freely providing when joining your group is important.

5. Encourage Connections by starting and participating in the discussions area of the Group. – The group’s members joined for a reason, and in most instances it’s to connect with other members. Helping to make those connections happen is something that you on the staff can help with. Post discussion topics, comment on topics that already have been started, share other resources that you know about to aid in those conversations. If you show that you are a part of the community and the conversations happening within it, the members can see the tangible value of the association in its interactions within the group.

These are five tips that we are using in our LinkedIn Group. The group started in January 2008 and we have engaged nearly 1,500 members since. The connections are happening. The excitement continues to grow. And, the organization is benefiting from increased engagement, knowledge, and conversation with our members.

1 comment:

Lindy Dreyer said...

Great advice, Bruce. This one is going into my bookmarks.