LinkedIn has proven itself to be a power player when it comes to social networks, with over 187 million members as of October 2012. If you’re a small business owner and you’re not on LinkedIn, quickly add it to your new year’s resolutions list and sign up immediately –  the resources are unlimited and free to use. One of the biggest opportunities on LinkedIn are all of the groups that connect you with like-minded professionals in your industry.  Whether you’re trying to network, get product or service feedback, find future employees or even business partners, LinkedIn groups has every opportunity you need to succeed in the coming year.

To get started, first signup for LinkedIn if you haven’t already.  We also recommend building a company page on LinkedIn for your business – but you can come back to that after you explore the many opportunities within the LinkedIn groups directory.  Before you dive in headfirst, there are some very useful tips and things to remember when perusing or starting a LinkedIn group.

Closed versus Open
There are two kinds of groups on LinkedIn: open groups, which are visible to the public and normally free to contribute to. And there are closed groups, which are private and a user will need to be accepted into the group before contributing.

An open group is obviously going to grow faster, but, there needs to be a certain measure of moderating to keep out the spam. On the flip side, a closed group will take a bit longer to grow, but, the engagement will be much more targeted.

Use Announcements
You are allowed to send out weekly announcements to your followers, so use it wisely! This is a great opportunity to use the best of your CTAs to gather up leads. Just remember to limit the sales pitch and provide useful information first and foremost.

Always Participate
If you are going to start a group, it is good to participate and let your presence be known. This is a very easy and fast way to networking and leads. If you’re going to start a group, you might as well be a part of it!

Set Some Rules
There is an area where you can set up some group rules, and please do so! Don’t be afraid to boot out unruly group members and recognize the good ones. You are the leader of this group, show it by laying down the law and abiding by it.

LinkedIn is an rapidly growing resource that many small businesses are pinning as an important small business tool–especially when you start or join a group. Give it a try, and see how LinkedIn can add a boost to your marketing efforts!

Do you have a LinkedIn group that you’d like to share with us and other readers?  Leave it in the comments below!

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