Groups are a critical piece to success on LinkedIn. LinkedIn groups are user groups that share certain interests for individuals with certain backgrounds. Groups can also be based on geographic locations or a combination of some/all of the above.
As an example there can be groups simply based on a certain profession or based on a geographic location and a certain profession.
You will find groups for nurses, lawyers, managers, project managers, oil & gas industry, and so on. The groups that are not based on certain geographic locations can become very large with thousands of members, while other groups are simply smaller because the group definition limits access based on the geographic location of the group. And some groups never take off and the membership numbers for some of these groups are (unfortunately) extremely low. However, it is easier to get noticed in smaller groups compared to groups with thousands of active members. Pick your battles carefully.
Why are group memberships really important?
Group memberships on LinkedIn are important for a couple of reasons. For one, you become an active group member and start new discussions or respond to existing discussions. This can be a helpful tactic to make yourself visible. If you are a subject matter expert you can shine with your knowledge so that other people might take notice. It is not unheard of to get noticed by hiring managers or to score a public speaking gig by actively participating in certain groups. Quite a few recruiters use the group membership listings to find qualified candidates for job opportunities.
Having a certain number of group memberships also helps with your overall profile rankings – at least that is my opinion. It is not officially confirmed by LinkedIn from what I know. To have a complete profile, group memberships are part of the deal. My personal recommendation would be to be a member of at least 10 groups.
Of course the group memberships allow you to network. Please do not spam the groups or group members. Spend a little bit of time to make yourself familiar with the different groups. Put your name out there by involving yourself in discussions and then start to build up relationships with other members. Don’t under-estimate the power of networking on LinkedIn. It is one of the most powerful features.
Where do you find groups in LinkedIn?
You would think it is fairly easy to find the groups, but I do not necessarily find it intuitive. From the LinkedIn homepage, click Interests and then select Groups.
On the next page you would see the newsfeed for your groups as well as you would see information about your existing groups. If you want to search for new groups you will need to look to the lower right of your screen and click on the “Find a group” button. I am not sure why the search function is not placed in a more visible spot. Overall I think the navigation on this page could be dramatically be improved.
Spend a bit of time before joining a group. Read the description and really determine if the group membership would be of benefit to you eventually.
I marked the important parts by either highlighting them in yellow, using a red arrow or a red box.
I already mentioned being strategic when it comes to joining certain groups. If you are really interested in joining a certain company, it definitely makes sense to join groups and to become an active member in groups that are related to that specific company or if you know that a certain group has many members from that company. Once you become an active member and join discussions you can send connection requests to people you are talking to in a group. From there it is not a big step to network with the same people. If group members are local to where you live you can also ask to meet with them in person over coffee or something of that nature.
Important: If you really want to stand out and become visible for the members of a LinkedIn group, start participating in discussions that contain a large number of comments. Preferably you want look at discussions with 100+ comments. You want to do this because in most cases each participant in that specific discussion receives an email notification when a new comment has been posted.
If you are a member of a certain group, but want to keep this confidential to anyone who is eventually looking at your profile, you have the option to hide the group membership from the settings for that specific group.
To change the settings for specific groups go to the group homepage and then click on the “I” for information and settings.
From there you want to select “Settings” on the right side of the screen.
On the next page you can change the visibility setting for this specific group as well as other settings – including the way you are being notified about group updates.
Depending on what group I am subscribed to, I usually have LinkedIn send me a daily digest of the activities inside a group. Very active groups would otherwise flood you with emails during the day. Of course, if you are a member of a group where job opportunities are posted that might be exactly what you want. You can change back and forth depending on your preferences. For some groups I simply rely on the news feed and don’t care about emails too much.
As mentioned, group memberships are quite important – especially when you are looking for work. However, keep in mind being an active member in many groups also means you need to spend a lot of time just to be active and visible. I mentioned this before, pick your battles carefully and spend your efforts where you expect the biggest bang for the buck.
Limitations – I have seen this been removed, but then heard about it again. This might not apply to you, but I want to leave this hear in case you run into this issue:
LinkedIn has implemented some limitations when it comes to group memberships. As an example you can only be a member in up to 50 different groups and you would have to cancel some group memberships if you wish to join some other groups. There are limitations for group owners as well, but those are not of concern for us here.
It can actually be quite challenging to reach that limit of 50 group memberships. The reason is slow or no response from the group owners to activate pending group memberships. Just over the last few days I tried to reach the limit of having 50 group memberships, but I got stuck at 46 active group memberships and having 7 membership requests pending. From what I understand you can only have up to 7 pending memberships and you cannot join other groups that don’t offer immediate approval. In such a case just delete the pending membership request.