LinkedIn holds real potential for any business. In theory it is a ready-made tool that can be used to develop a position of trust within the community you serve by being a catalyst for useful and profitable conversations between those people.
If opportunity doesn’t knock, you can build both the room and the door using LinkedIn.
I want to take a look at some of the aspects of how to establish and activate a LinkedIn group for your business and propose an action plan to move you forward.
To start with…….
A good place to begin is to take a look at your aims and ambitions for the group. A useful framework can be found in a coaching model, called GROW developed by Sir John Whitmore.
GROW is an acronym and stands for Goal, Reality, Options and What you will do. It is perfect for getting under the skin of an issue.
So with your LinkedIn group in mind, start by looking at your:
- Goal: “What do you want your group to do? What is its purpose? How do you want it to be useful? How would you measure this? Make your answers SMART(another acronym standing for Specific, Measurable, Acceptable, Realistic and Timebound).
Once your goal is formed, move on to look at the:
- Reality. Ask yourself, what is happening with the group currently? How is it being used? What are the metrics like? Then you can assess the gap between goals and reality. If you don’t yet have a group set up, look at why not and what you’d need to do to create one. Adjust your goal if it’s too far away from your reality. For example, it may be that you decide to work on being a more active member of your group before setting your own up.
Next, take a look at:
- Options. So what might you do to close the gap between your Goal and your Reality?
And then you’d look at ‘What you decide to do’. Let’s imagine your goal was to get more activity and discussions going in your LinkedIn group. With this in mind, here are six ideas to support that goal:
- Find and engage your ‘fire starters.’ Create an Influencer group. This involves identifying those people within your community who you believe are your innovators and early adopters. These are the people who just get what you do and on an emotional level. They will be your conversation starters. Email them and ask them if they’d be up for helping you develop your LinkedIn group. Explain why and what’s in it for them. This is where yourGoal work above comes in useful. Ask them what they’d like to discuss and why.
- Give your Influencers something to scratch their brains against. Write a Blog post or create some content that expands on the themes they have mentioned. Make it open and write it as a conversation starter. Then develop a question out of this piece that will get people talking about it. Questions on their own don’t work. And thought pieces on their own don’t work. But together they are effective ways to start a conversation.
- Help members find the time in their day to contribute. Email your Influencer group in advance with the discussion topic, when you’re launching it and the piece that is trailing it. Then email them just after you’ve posted the question in your LinkedIn group.
- Keep the discussion rolling. Be prepared to be the facilitator of the discussion. You can play a useful role to keep the debate and discussion moving to invite people to expand or clarify their points.
- Create a constitution. Some guidance for how people should expect to conduct themselves in the group. This will help the members to feel secure that their interests are being protected.
- Set up metrics. Establish some useful ways to measure changes in activity within the group as a result of your new initiatives. These could include the number of submissions by the group in response to debates, the number of new joiners to the group or the quality of the submissions of the group.
I hope this is a useful framework for you to start thinking differently about using LinkedIn groups. Where are you right now? What is your experience of using LinkedIn groups? I’d be interested to hear what you think.