The Value of Becoming Actively Involved on LinkedIn
By Lewis Howes
Co-author of LinkedWorking: Generating Success on the World's Largest Professional Networking Website
When I used to play basketball, I would make difficult shots all the time. People would sometimes snarl at me saying, “Lucky shot, Lewis. Bet you can’t do that again.” I did not find it lucky at all, because I was in the gym for six hours a day practicing that same shot.
I never believed in luck. I believed in hard work and a passion for my sport. When others made those comments, I would always think of the saying, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” Then I would continue preparing for those opportunities whenever I had the chance.
What does this have to do with being a successful networker on LinkedIn? Everything. You have to put the work in network by getting actively involved.
The things you need to do in the real world of networking to get involved include joining local groups, attending city meetings, doing community service, becoming an officer in the groups you join, and so on. The beautiful part about LinkedIn is it allows you to do those same activities in a virtual setting.
One of the most powerful features on LinkedIn is the ability to create your own LinkedIn Groups. A group is an application that can help you stay informed and keep in touch with people that share your interests.
There is great value in creating your own group. Not only does this put you as the central focus of many individuals with similar thoughts and interests, but if done right, it makes you a very visible figure. For example, I continue to grow my personal network with quality contacts. I'm not trying to have 50,000-plus direct connections; however, I do want to have a database of 50,000 at my fingertips for marketing purposes. And that is where LinkedIn groups come into play.
I have created about 15 different groups. These groups pertain to my industry, my hobbies, and my geographical location. All of these groups serve a purpose for me, and they fill a niche. The great thing about these groups is they continue to grow on a daily basis without any work or promotion on my end. As LinkedIn continues to gain more than one million members per month, more people join these groups, giving me greater access to people from all over the world.
When someone joins my group, they usually send me an e-mail with their reasons for joining, all of their contact information, and what they are currently involved with in the industry. Some even attach their resumes. Here is a real example of an e-mail I received from someone joining one of my groups: "Hey Lewis, I've applied to join your group on LinkedIn. Currently, I'm looking to reestablish myself within the sporting industry and hope to be able to leverage the increased networking power of the group. I have attached my resume and references for further review. I hope to hear back from you at your first opportunity. Thanks in advance."
Even if certain group members do not send me e-mail introductions, I automatically have access to their e-mail addresses. Also, LinkedIn places all of the member e-mail addresses on a list, and they give you the option for a one-click download into an Excel spreadsheet.
What could you do with an extra 100, 1,000, or 10,000 e-mail addresses from the top professionals in your industry? Could it be valuable to you? Absolutely. Every time one person joins the group, everyone connected to that one person will see an update showing that he/she just joined. This entices others with similar interests to join the group as well, leaving you little work in promotion. The group grows on its own. This is a powerful tool if you take advantage of it.
If there are many groups out there in your niche already, you probably should not create another group in the same niche, unless you provide a unique angle. Rather, you should become actively involved in an existing group. Introduce yourself to the group manager. Provide value and offer something to connect with you. Ask what you can do to be a manager for the group. Offer to provide a bi-monthly newsletter, or become involved in asking and answering questions on the discussion forum of that group. Offering more value to the group owners and offering ways to make the group more useful to them will prove to be just as beneficial to you.
Another way to become actively involved on LinkedIn is LinkedIn Answers. This section gives you the ability to ask and answer questions pertaining to any topic in any industry. People actively read those answers on a daily basis, and numerous business deals have come from individuals providing compelling information.
When you ask a question on LinkedIn, your name and profile become the focal point of the question, and the answers are the next visible thing in this section. If you ask a question, you then have the ability to rank the best answer. These ranking points are like currency on LinkedIn. Therefore, you want to make sure you always provide helpful answers, because the entire world can read them.
The answers section simply makes you more visible and involved. If your questions and answers are consistently thought provoking and useful, then you have created a positive reinforcement for your profile. The more you are recognized and seen in the answers section or in various groups, the more people will begin to know, like, and trust you.