I have decided to write a series on how I feel we can get the most out of LinkedIn in relation to building mutually beneficial connections, the focus is on 3 key words: mutual, beneficial and connections. Most of the time we focus on the last two words but forget the importance of the first, I sincerely believe that when we focus on building mutually beneficial connections amazing things can happen for all those concerned.
I have tried a number of online networking groups, I did Ecademy for a bit and even tried Ning, but neither of these were for me so it was a happy day when I finally stumbled upon LinkedIn. So, what’s so great about LinkedIn?
- It’s totally business/profession minded – so it attracts serious people who want to connect with other serious people.
- you are able to create an online CV through your profile area – which is great for people finding you or the services you offer(try typing your name into Google and the chances are your LinkedIn profile will show up) but it gives you a chance to learn about potential contacts before deciding to connect.
- You have the opportunity to join groups based on your areas of interest and expertise which is beneficial not just for spotlighting how wonderful you are but also for learning and becoming more equipped.
- last but definitely not least it’s free to create a basic profile and every now and again LinkedIn give away free trials offers, so you can see whether their premium services are really as beneficial as they claim before signing on the dotted line.
So if you don’t have a LinkedIn account, just a take a short trip over to the site and register for free.
The importance of groups in building mutually beneficial connections
In this post I would like to tackle what I think is the first step of building mutually beneficial connections on LinkedIn and any other networking site you belong to with group functionality. When I first joined LinkedIn and started to join groups I was like a kid in a candy store, seriously any group that sounded and looked good I clicked on the ‘Join Group’ link and before you know it I was being told that I could only join 5 more groups (maximum of 50 groups per person)! Well, that definitely got me thinking and so I began to re-assess all those groups that I had joined and began to prune them down. I’m not exactly where I would wish to be as I still belong to 30 groups, but I am continuously analysing how beneficial each group is to me and I to them based on the following criteria:
- How often do I visit them – if not very often then potentially they are a waste of group allocation space, is it really benefiting me or the group’s other members by simply decorating my profile page? Having a group that you never or rarely visit is definitely not a way of building mutually beneficial connections.
- How active is the group – I often find that some groups are plain inactive or rarely active, in such cases it could be that someone with great intentions started the group but didn’t have the time, energy or resources to put into managing it and bailed out, or it could have been created just in case someone else might steal the idea (a bit like bagging your domain name or twitter name before someone else does). If you really like the sound of a group but it’s inactive or rarely active you could contact the owner and offer support and see what they say or you can make it a goal to contribute more regularly yourself and invite your connections to join the group. By doing either of these things you are showing your support to the vision of the group and in the process building positive exposure to yourself which will result in people clicking on your profile to find out more about you and hopefully requesting to become connected. Gratitude is also a very powerful emotion, by providing support and encouragement to group leaders/owners you cause them to experience gratitude towards you, according to positive psychologists gratitude is one of those emotions that cause people to want to go out of their way to give back to you – so a little bit of support never hurts!
- What is the tone of the group like? – unfortunately for me I have found that many ‘Christian’ groups do not leave me with a positive group experience. Some group owners are so controlling that they moderate every single post or comment before it being posted, depending on how active these moderators are your post may never be reviewed and so group activity automatically dwindles. The whole point of a group is to encourage discussion and sharing, by having tight reigns over comments and posts it hinders natural conversation and prevents meaningful relationships from being built. On the other hand, you have the problem of too much leniency in group discussions, where everyone seems to be not only just talking but selling at the same time so nobody is really listening to one another, or else you have group theologians and philosophers trying to outwit and outsmart each other in theological debates that seem to go round and round in circles (excuse my spiel here, I am quite passionate about this). In a nutshell, stay away from groups where the focus is on ‘I’ because even if you want to create mutually beneficial relationships the chances are that all the other members want to do is take from you or show you how wonderful they are, definitely no mutuality here.
Groups are a great way to begin to look for and build mutually beneficial relationships, you can do this by focusing on a handful of groups (in my case I can obviously fit 30 groups in mine) and adding value through conversations and starting discussions. Search the members in the group to find others who might live in the same part of the world with you, have similar businesses or interests and connect with them, these should be the key people that you focus on building mutually beneficial relationships with as the chances are you will most likely be able to support and encourage one another, you will also be able to see their updates which helps you get to know them a bit better.
To conclude maximise the power of your LinkedIn connections to create mutual benefits for all by:
- carefully selecting and analysing your groups by carrying out a regular group membership audit
- find ways of building gratitude in your groups
- actively participate and start group discussions
- be proactive in seeking out group members to connect with
You might also want to check out this great blog post on LinkedIn groups by Oma Edoja.
I hope this post has blessed you, if so please consider subscribing to receive future posts. Join me again (probably next week) when I will look at another practical strategy to build mutually beneficial LinkedIn connections.
I am looking for guest bloggers, if you would like to contribute to this blog please contact me to discuss further.