I’ve written a few posts now about LinkedIn, and for now still find it be the best fit for me as far as a networking tool. If you prefer something else, that works too! But if you’ve decided to use LinkedIn, groups should be a part of your strategy, and I want to cover why and how.
Right now I’m a member of only a few groups; the Orlando SQL group, PASS, SSC, and a couple others. Orlando has about 50 members, SSC over a thousand. I don’t participate much in the few discussions that happen within the groups (so far anyway), but I like it as an easy way to keep up with news about and within the group because I get a weekly digest (which you can disable). Once you’re a group member:
- It gives you a way to post a message to a targeted audience. In general I see this used badly, but maybe I’m over critical. If you were going to say something to 1000+ people, make sure it’s relevant and succinct, and don’t repeat it every two days!
- It is another way to introduce yourself when making a connection. You can pick any group as a reason for the connection, and while I still take a quick look, I get little spam from the group as far as connection requests
- It has a built in job board, almost perfect for user groups as a way to support their sponsors and members. Almost perfect because no direct way to charge those placing the position openings, but I guess that isn’t all bad.
Some groups are open, some require ‘approval’ to join. Decent management tools if you want to start a group, and they just announced sub groups which might be interesting for a larger group like PASS or SSC.
Bottom line is that joining groups is a way to reach a much larger network without diluting your personal network. I suppose you could join 100 groups or more along that line of thought, but I think it’s reasonable to join groups that interest you. For example, I’m also a member of the Space Coast Users Group group (group squared?) so I can keep up with their news, and the same for Tampa.
If you explore this, look beyond just the pure SQL groups. I see lots of groups here in Orlando that just facilitate networking, and I’m waiting to hear back from a couple people about how well that works out, but I think it’s worth trying – especially if you need to practice your networking skills.