If you believe, as I do, that we should all follow LinkedIn’s advice and only connect our networks in LinkedIn to others we actually know, then you might be wondering how to expand your network faster without violating those guidelines.
All of us instinctively know that having a bigger network means that we will have a greater chance of satisfying our search when we use the Advanced Search wizard in LinkedIn to find people we want to meet. People who might be interested in some new service or product we are selling for example.
LinkedIn has provided us all a solution for this seeming dilemma. It’s called LinkedIn Groups.
To explore this feature, just click on Groups in the left hand personal navigation panel within LinkedIn and then use the displayed Group search wizard to identify Groups you might care to join. For example, you can enter the school you were graduated from or some of the companies you worked for in the past. You can also enter words like RFID or Wireless. There are thousands of Groups in LinkedIn.
Another option is to use the “quick search” box on the home page. Use the “pull down” menu to select Groups (the default setting on the home page is “people”) and then proceed as immediately above.
Finally, when viewing anyone’s profile you will see logos for Groups to which they belong. If you click on one of the logos, you will be redirected to the page where you can apply for membership.
So, why should you join Groups?
It turns out when doing any search, LinkedIn will show you the full profiles of anyone who is within any group you belong to as well as anyone who is in your 1st, 2nd or 3rd degree networks in LinkedIn.
In fact, if you select “relationship” as the order of listing all these people, people who are directly connected to you will be listed 1st, followed by people who are two degrees away from you (you both theoretically know someone in common), followed by people with whom you share group memberships and then people who are three degrees away from you.
This is done because LinkedIn allows you to send “brokered” messages directly to any member of any of your groups. You don’t get their email but LinkedIn will send it through to them. You don’t need to go through an introduction request.
Let me be clear. You aren’t connected to them. For any member of a group to become a 1st degree connection to you, one of you has to invite the other to connect networks.
There are many other benefits to belonging to Groups in LinkedIn, but this is the most important for those of us who use our networks to help us develop new business opportunities. We know that is true because LinkedIn has decided to limit our use of this feature to fifty groups.
Here is post from the LinkedIn Blog about how CalTech’s Alumni Group in LinkedIn works.
How do you use LinkedIn groups to help you be a more effective sales person or consultant?
Photo credit: anyjazz65