In April’s Live Video Broadcast, 3 Keys to Successful Social Marketing, we touched on how service professionals can use LinkedIn to grow their network. While a lot of users view LinkedIn as simply an online business card, the site has much more functionality.

One of the key features of LinkedIn is LinkedIn Groups, which are private or public groups where users can gather with similar interests. For example, you can join Digital Marketing for Financial Professionals, Independent Advisors, Wealth Management, and countless others. Each group consists of members posting updates and content regarding the topic and they engage with others through comments and sharing posts.

LinkedIn continues to be among the most popular social networking sites for professionals. One way you can harness LinkedIn’s potential is to create your own group and add members that would benefit from your content. Here’s how to create a group:

Once you know how to create a LinkedIn Group, the next step is learning how to create a successful LinkedIn Group.

First, establish yourself as the leader of the group. As the leader, you can develop a mission statement that distinctly outlines why the group exists and what you expect from members. You can also create clear guidelines and rules, such as requiring members to start their post with a question to promote other members’ feedback.

Next, consider whether your group will be open or closed. An open group means that anyone can see the discussions, but the leader of the group can decide whether or not anyone on LinkedIn, or just members, can post. A closed group, or members-only group, means that you must be accepted into the group before you can see the discussions. A members-only group isn’t indexed by search engines and can’t be shared to other social networks such as Twitter and Facebook.

One key aspect of having a successful LinkedIn Group is knowing your audience. Just as it’s important to know your audience when crafting your inbound marketing strategy, it is also important with your LinkedIn group. For a group to be successful, you must recognize how your members want to participate. What are they looking for in a group? What information do they find most valuable? Don’t be afraid to highlight member expertise, seek opinions, and promote an open and friendly atmosphere.

Lastly, manage your group consistently. An effective group is led by a committed individual that enforces the group guidelines, moderates posts, and leads conversations. One way to keep your group running smoothly and efficiently is to read each submitted post and confirm that all posts include topics relevant to the group.

Ideally, your LinkedIn Group will consist of members who want to be there and are contributing high-quality, and rich insights. A successful LinkedIn Group provides a robust platform for professionals to gather and share information about their industry.

Your group may also encourage clients and prospects to form professional partnerships with you because they will see you as a leader and someone who cares about learning more about their industry. Service professionals who create LinkedIn Groups go above and beyond most of their competition because they take the next step in their content marketing strategy.

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