When 40 percent of B2B buyers say LinkedIn is important when researching technologies and services to purchase, signing up for a LinkedIn profile and just posting automated weekly updates (or nothing) leaves a lot to be desired.

Here’s the thing: There's more to LinkedIn than posting updates and connecting with contacts after networking events. It’s a wide world of open content publishing and networking and association groups having real-time and long-term conversations.

You need to get in on this conversation by becoming active in and contributing to LinkedIn industry groups. Here’s a five step prep list to get your LinkedIn profile ready for deeper, more effective networking within LinkedIn industry groups.

1. Tighten Up Your LinkedIn Profile

Time needed: 30-45 minutes

When you start to post more frequently, users will be interested in you and what you do. You will notice that there are more people viewing your profile than ever before.

Before you participate in LinkedIn industry groups, you’ll want to make sure that your profile is ready for the folks that are sure to see it.

Focus on making sure your LinkedIn profile page provides a clean, professional, online business card that showcases your experience, and make the profile welcoming.

  • Make sure your headline is impactful and says more than just your position at your company.
  • Use a professional photo. It doesn't have to be "suit and tie," but use what's appropriate in your industry.
  • Write a keyword rich, welcoming personal summary. Use a free online tool grammar and spell checker like Grammarly to tighten it up and make it sound better. Remember if you're trying to establish contact with potential customers, tell them how you can help solve their problems.
  • You’ll also want to update your standard URL (often filled with numbers) to one that includes your name. Make sure that your summary and experience provide enough detail so that a potential customer has a conversation starter.

2. Write an Introduction

Time needed: 10 minutes

When you first join a group, you’ll want to take the opportunity to introduce yourself. Write a 2-3 sentence introduction that's appropriate to the industry group:

  • Include your name and what you do (this doesn't have to be your title if you want to be more conversational).
  • Give a short, conversational version of your elevator pitch.
  • Include an idea of what you’re looking to get out of the group.

Introduce yourself in a way that is honest and genuine, but also strategic. If possible, include conversational keywords that will make it easy for anyone who reads your introduction to leave a comment and start a conversation.

You may even want to end with a question to elicit some responses and kickstart a conversation.

Let's look at an example. If you’re in the healthcare industry, you might kick off your conversation with an introduction like the following:

Hello! My name is Mark and I run a healthcare software solutions company, Health2Go. I’ve joined this group because I would love to hear about your biggest healthcare B2B software complaint. If you’ve had a hair-raising, awful experience… tell me about it in the comments!

This introduction accomplishes three goals:

  1. It gives the reader a sense of who you are and what you do,
  2. It hints at a professional yet humorous attitude, and
  3. It offers an obvious opening to write back and start a conversation about the reader’s software concerns.

3. Find the Right Groups To Join

Time needed: 30 minutes - 1 hour

When you’ve got your home-base networking elements in place, it’s time to find the most useful groups for you by deploying creative and effective database searching techniques.

Start by pulling up the profile of someone in your industry, a sales person at a competing company or one of your target customers. Examine their profiles and identify the groups he or she is active in. Look at the keywords and titles used that identify the group, as well as the industry tags. Make a note of them.

Then, perform the same reconnaissance on the businesses and brands within your target market, too. Search using your own network, the location of current and former clients, and even former company employers in your target market. Add these to your keyword list and use them to perform more specific and practical industry group searches.

Don't feel like you have to join several groups at the start. You want to have time to participate, so start small -- 3 groups or fewer.

4. Update Your Settings

Time needed: 10 minutes

Here’s a tip we learned the hard way: unfortunately, every time you join a group you’ll be automatically registered to receive daily and weekly updates from that group. You’ll need to adjust your LinkedIn update settings manually.

After you are accepted into a group, navigate to your LinkedIn homepage. Hover the mouse over your photo in the top right of the screen and select “Privacy & Settings.” On the next screen, select “Groups, Companies, & Applications,” then “Set the frequency of group digest emails,” and adjust accordingly.

LinkedIn Privacy Settings Set the frequency of your email notifications. We recommend daily digests so you can quickly scan topics and respond in a timely way.

5. Set Your Alarm / Schedule Time

Time needed: 30 minutes per week

You’ll only get as much out of LinkedIn industry groups as you put into them. Rather than checking in whenever you get a moment -- because more often than not, that moment never comes -- set an alarm or meeting appointment to engage in your groups for 30 minutes each week.

It doesn’t have to be at a particular time, just whatever works for your schedule. A quick 30 minutes on Monday to start your week, or a Friday afternoon send-off. You can even do it over the weekend. What matters is that you spend consistent time doing it.

You only have a limited amount of time to invest in your online networking efforts, so put the time in where it counts! Make a name for yourself in LinkedIn industry groups where your B2B clients are looking for you.

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