In one week, I increased the number of people looking at my LinkedIn profile by 425%. And that’s pretty exciting—more views means more potential job opportunities, more connections, and more visibility in my industry.
Also exciting? The only thing I did differently in those seven days was start and participate in a few group discussions.
Now that I’ve discovered how beneficial it is to be an active contributor, I’m making it my goal to join group discussions at least once a week. Here’s how to do the same, so you can make your profile views soar.
1. Find the Right Group
If you’re already a member of several groups relevant to your industry, profession, or interests, great. If not, let’s fix that.
Go to the search bar at the top of the page and enter some keywords. If you’re a content strategist, try “content strategy,” “content marketing,” “creative content solutions,” and the like; if you’re into cloud computing, try “cloud computing,” “cloud storage,” “cloud services,” “cloud computing and virtualizations,” and so on. Then, in the left bar, click “Groups” to filter your results. You can also do a “blank search” (press Enter without typing anything) and let LinkedIn show you the groups it considers most relevant to you.
Groups range from the broad (like “Content Strategy”) to the ultra-specific (like “Women in Marketing, Chapel Hill, NC ”), and each has its merits, but don’t limit yourself to one size. If you’re just starting out, join one small group (less than 100 members), one medium group (less than 1,000 members), and one large group (anywhere from 1,000 to 100,000 members). This strategy lets you be a big fish in a small pond, a medium fish in a medium pond, and a small fish in a big pond.
One characteristic all the groups you join should share? They should all be active. If there hasn’t been any discussion in the group within the last week, pick a different one.
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2. Get the Lay of the Land
Don’t do what I did, which was immediately post a discussion without looking at anything else on the group page. After getting zero responses to my question, I scrolled down to see that someone else had asked the same thing just a couple days prior.
Now, when I join a group, I’ll read through everything posted in the last week (or month, if it’s a less-active group). I note the average conversational style (casual? formal? somewhere in between?), the most successful posts (open-ended questions? discussions about industry news? requests for advice?), and the types of responses (long? short and snappy?).
This process might sound time-consuming, but it shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes, tops. Plus, not only do I generate ideas for my own posts and comments, I also learn valuable information about my field.
You don’t want to overwhelm yourself, so go to your smallest group first and spend some time getting comfortable with the vibe. As you read, jot down any thoughts you have. These will become the jumping-off points for your first posts.
3. Join a Discussion
I like to contribute to a couple of threads before I start a new one. That’s because if LinkedIn groups are like dinner parties; you don’t want to be the obnoxious guest who shows up late and then tries to dominate the conversation.
The discussion you comment on doesn’t have to be active. Say you find one from a couple weeks ago that’s come to a halt, but it’s on a topic you know stone-cold and you’d love to point out something the other members missed. Feel free to revive the discussion! However, I’d simultaneously add to an ongoing discussion to make sure you don’t end up talking to yourself.
When commenting, keep a couple things in mind:
Statements like, “I agree with Joe,” aren’t valuable unless you expand on what Joe said, back up his point with your own experience, or in some way add new information.
Disagreeing with people is fine, but you should remain super polite at all times. There’s nothing worse than an over-aggressive group member.
You can promote your company, your product, or yourself, but only if it feels natural. For example, if a group member asks if anyone has read any ebooks on sales techniques, you can link to yours. If people are just talking about good techniques, don’t jump in with, “Read my ebook!”
Relevance is key. If your comments are random, people will ignore you.
4. Start Your Own Discussion
For my first post in “LinkedIn for Journalists,” I asked the group members whether they’d invested in a personal website. This was a great post for a couple of reasons: It invited people to share their expertise, it was broad enough that anyone could contribute, whether they had a personal site or not, and there were multiple sub-topics, like whether you should pay for a site and how you can use one to promote yourself. Try to think of an open-ended question like this pertaining to your own field. (If you need inspiration, go back to the notes you took!)
You can also share articles or sites that the group would find interesting. For example, in “LinkedIn for Journalists,” I could post an article about how most people now use their phones to read the news. Using questions will increase the responses you get, so I’d add, “Has your writing changed to reflect the size of the mobile audience; and if so, how?”
Bonus: LinkedIn allows you to share your discussions on social media, so if you really want to start a healthy conversation, post the link on Twitter and Facebook.
Once you’ve commented on or started a discussion in a group, your job is technically done. Even though my website post got tons of comments, none of them were mine: I just sat back and watched the conversation unfold. However, my next goal is to take on an unofficial moderator role. I’m confident my page views will really take off!
If you try this technique, let me know on Twitter—or even find me on LinkedIn!