Too often, I scroll through someone’s LinkedIn profile only to find that the Groups section is completely blank. This is a huge missed opportunity, whether you are someone in career transition, or you are managing your career while gainfully employed.
There are millions of LinkedIn groups to choose from, with a wide variety of interest groups and demographics. The moment you join a group, you have a forum of people in that space, many who are experts and many who can bring benefits to your career transition or your career management.
Choosing the right LinkedIn groups
Look first for groups that are aligned with your career goals and specific areas of expertise. From there you can branch out into your personal interests – you never know what could be a point of commonality with someone who could be a boon to your career.
Be careful not to associate yourself with any controversial groups (politics, religion, etc.), because unfortunately biases still exist. If you do choose to belong to those groups, hide them from your profile (see the next section).
LinkedIn allows you to join up to 50 groups. You don’t need to belong to that many; select as many as you can comfortably keep up with as you transition through your career. If you reach your capacity, then always leave one group before adding a new one.
Customizing your group settings
You can change the default settings for every group. The two things you can change are visibility (whether or not the group logo will be displayed on your profile), and contact (which email notifications you want to receive from the group and its members).
From any group page, look in the top right-hand area for the “i” icon to access your settings.
Participating in LinkedIn groups
As soon as you join a new group, watch for an automated welcome email from the group manager. There may be a set protocol for participating and you want to adhere to that. They may also point you towards a discussion thread where new group members can introduce themselves.
If you don’t see such a topic, start a new discussion to introduce yourself to the group. Tell them upfront that you are actively engaged in a career transition. You never know – somebody in that group could be able to generate leads or ideas for you as a result of your message.
You can also specify if you’re looking to work for a particular company. There may be someone with hiring authority from that company in the group, or who can make an introduction for you.
Never be frightened to tell people you’re in career transition. It’s not confidential anymore; be bold – just put yourself out there.
Every LinkedIn group provides you the opportunity of marketing yourself as an expert to your peers and other interested stakeholders within that group. You can do this in several ways:
- Browse group discussions for topics and questions you can speak eloquently about. Always be careful to keep a watch on your brand to reinforce your particular expertise. Don’t overstep that brand or say anything that will give a negative impression.
- Start new discussions to ask thought-provoking and engaging questions, and stimulate a conversation. After your question, add your own thoughts and then ask for input. These conversations can fuel in-depth interactions and become very long threads – all linked prominently to your name and profile.
- Share links to articles from other experts and trusted publications such as Forbes and Inc., along with your own commentary and thought-provoking question (as above).
LinkedIn groups are a great platform to market your personal brand and your career ambitions. Do everything you can to secure that space as an expert in your environment.