LinkedIn Groups are one of the most powerful social business tools on the web. Done the right way, including groups in your social selling strategy can help you establish thought leadership, generate new leads, and gain insight into your buyers. But how can you select the right groups and engage with them in a meaningful way?

To ensure success with LinkedIn Groups here’s a few helpful guidelines:

Review, Analyze, and Select the Right Groups

Use Linkedin Group statistics to analyze which groups are the best fit with your business goals. This post from Social Media B2B offers instructions on how to use these statistics to review and evaluate group engagement. Examining the activity level and the ratio of discussions to comments will ensure that the groups you choose provide a greater return on your time investment.

Join Power Groups

Joining power groups, whose membership numbers in the tens of thousands, allows you to get your message in front of the largest possible audience and quickly expand your network. The downside? Large groups often have fewer engaged members and frequently your message can get lost amid the spam. Still, it’s best to carefully select a few of the most relevant power groups and include them as a part of your mix.

Listen and Monitor Discussions

At Yesler, we encourage our clients to seek first to understand before diving into a discussion, as the best communicators are always the best listeners. Fortunately, LinkedIn has made listening to group dialogue a cinch with the option to receive a regular email digest of group discussions and posts. Sign up for these emails for your highest-priority groups. By keeping tabs on the group buzz you can begin following specific members and build relationships with them. This is also a great way to stay informed about hot topics and to monitor competitors.

Treat It Like a Cocktail Reception

As with any social event, it’s essential to establish rapport. Start by briefly introducing yourself in your first discussion or comment. Be relevant - keep in mind that members are there to discuss topics important to their business, get answers to questions, discover solutions, and identify business opportunities. Nobody likes a person who talks about themselves incessantly, so be careful not to focus too much on your sales message.

Like!

If you’re short on time, a quick way to gain visibility is to “like” posts from influencers or prospective buyers. With each click of the like button, your profile photo will be added to the discussion tab on the group’s front page, as well as the group newsfeed. On the individual discussion page, your name will be displayed as someone who engaged by “liking” the discussion.

Contribute

Commenting is a more in-depth form of group engagement, where you can add your insight and pose questions in existing discussions without committing to leading a discussion yourself. Commenting is the easiest way to chime in with your take on a topic.

Start a Discussion

Starting discussions is the best way to increase visibility and establish yourself as an influencer, but it also takes more time. If you start discussions frequently, there is a good chance you could appear as a “Top Influencer This Week.” The key to creating successful discussions is to base them on REAL content. We define REAL as content that is relevant, enlightening, actionable, and lively. Controversy is also a great way to fuel dialog and gain momentum with your discussions.

Share and Amplify

Sharing group discussions on other social channels can help build your personal brand and amplify your message. LinkedIn allows you to share discussions by cross-promoting your comments on Facebook, Twitter, and your personal LinkedIn profile.

Make it a Routine

Determine how much time you will spend each day on LinkedIn and commit to a certain number of likes, comments, and shares each day. Your daily investment will pay off over time as you begin building meaningful relationships with the people who matter most to your business.

Image credit: Nan Palmero