This is the last in a 4-part series on LinkedIn for job search / career networking. It's also an excerpt from our just launched
. If you missed the first three posts, they're right
Congratulations. You've joined a few LinkedIn Groups. But what are you doing with them? Anything?
If you're not participating in LinkedIn Groups, you're cheating yourself out of one of the best features of LinkedIn. This is relevant for both job seekers, and all professionals. But many people are confused about what exactly they're supposed to do once they're in a Group.
Here are a 5 things you can do once you join a LinkedIn Group:
1. Engage in conversations within the Group discussions.
For heaven's sake, don’t be a wallflower. One of the easiest ways to get noticed by fellow Group members, and get to know some of the participants –
who may be extremely beneficial to your job search
– is to jump into the discussions. Scroll through and find a post of interest, and then weigh in with some thoughtful input, a question, or other some other worthy commentary.
2. Post your own questions or share content in the discussions.
You can also start discussion threads. Post your own questions specific to your industry or a particular company. Or share an article that’s relevant to the Group’s members.
While #1 and #2 won’t necessarily generate instant results, you can bet that frequent interaction will put you on the radar of fellow Group members. An added bonus is that, each time you make a comment or post a discussion, the people in your own network will see (in their News Feed) that you’ve posted something in that group as well. This helps you stay top of mind with your own people, and gives them a constant reminder that you’re someone who is passionate, engaged and intelligent in your specific area of expertise.
If you’re able to be a non-cloaked job seeker (as in, you’re not secretly looking for a job), you may also ask specific questions (or post a discussion thread) that makes clear your interest in finding a new opportunity. Again, don’t do this if you’re trying to fly under the radar. Realize that you’re posting on a public forum; your people will see this.
3. Check out jobs specific to your areas of interest and expertise.
Within each Group, you will find a “Jobs” tab. This is where recruiters, hiring managers and HR people post job openings within their organizations. It’s a wonderful way for those doing the hiring to target a very specific group of professionals; they post regularly within relevant niche Groups.
If you’re an active job seeker, you should absolutely keep an eye on the jobs being posted within the Groups most relevant to your area(s) of expertise and your specific geography.
4. Contact (and connect with) fellow Group members.
If you’ve picked your Groups thoughtfully, these are your people. So, by all means, start chatting it up with the participants you feel will be particularly interesting or useful.
Most people, when approached in a genuine, non-ambushy way, will respond favorably to someone with whom they share a Group connection. And the coolest part is that you can email your fellow Group members directly through LinkedIn, via your mutual affiliation. You don’t have to send them an invite to join your network, nor an inMail.
Keep this little ditty in mind if you ever find someone on LinkedIn that you’re dying to meet, yet don’t know the best way to approach. Here’s a useful trick:
Scroll down that person’s profile page, see what Groups she is in, and join one of the same ones. Voila. You have an instant way to chat directly with her. I often approach with something like:
“Hi Susan, You and I are both members of the Portland Entrepreneurs Group here on LinkedIn. I am so impressed by the way you are marketing your services via Twitter. Well done! May I ask you a quick question about your social media strategy?”
Of course, you’d frame that note in a way that is specific to your interests / needs, but you see the point. Mention that you share the common bond, compliment her on something, and then ask if you can may ask a quick question or two.
And then, without a doubt, as you get to know the people in your Groups, invite them to connect directly.
5. Consider starting (and moderating) your own Group.
Another brilliant way to establish / affirm your expertise and thought leadership within a particular sector is to start your own Group and then serve as its moderator. This tactic has many advantages, but it isn’t for everyone. In short, it’s not for the lazies among us. If you are going to dive into it, you’ve got to be committed to building and overseeing a community of like-minded people.
If you’ve got the chops to go for it, the potential benefits are many – “Owning” a group helps position you as an expert in your field. It also helps you build a network of people with similar expertise and interests – people who may be incredibly useful to your job search or overall career.
As the Group moderator, you will need to invite people to participate, manage the content that is being posted by members and encourage thoughtful dialogue.
So there you have it. Now you -- Do you have ways in which you're using LinkedIn Groups to your advantage for job search of career networking? If you would, share them in the comments below!