As a freelancer, you likely recognize how important the Internet has become to the success of your business. Potential clients and freelancers now regularly communicate and research each other online. As such, if you aren’t yet a member of the top online social networks, this should be a primary goal of developing your freelance career.
While some social networks are hit and miss when it comes to cultivating connections with potential clients and other freelancers, LinkedIn lists this as its primary purpose. Designed as a professional connection building network, LinkedIn offers immense possibilities for advancing your freelancing career and for building more connections than you may have thought possible.
Here are four tips for effectively using LinkedIn groups to build your freelance network.
1. Research Group Opportunities
Many LinkedIn groups now exist on various topics. As such, to narrow the variety of possible options, research several groups you think may be relevant to freelancing and the niche market you are targeting. After finding several options, conduct a testing phase with each to ensure their relevance to your freelancing goals.
Since maintaining an appropriate level of group interaction can be time consuming, be sure you are only participating in groups that meet your predefined expectations. A manageable number of groups to join is typically three to five, but this number may vary depending on the intensity of your discussions.
LinkedIn group search is your best friend here. It has the wide variety of options that will allow you to discover new relevant groups and join them right from the search results (again, don’t overdo though!).
And secondly, if you still decided to go to search results, don’t miss the following:
- Always pay attention to “Yesterday’s activity” line–that will help you to estimate how active the group is.
- Try the “Similar groups” link to discover more targeted communities.
- Notice whether the small “lock” icon shows if the group is open or closed (Closed group moderators always have to approve each applicant before he/she can join. Per my own experience, closed groups are more effective in terms of connecting to active niche influencers).
2. Join Relevant Discussions
Just as there are many LinkedIn groups that aren’t worth your time to join because of their irrelevance to freelancing, there will also be discussions within your pre-selected groups that aren’t relevant to your goals. Although you may feel obligated to comment on nearly all discussions, this process will quickly become exhausting.
Instead, only comment on those discussions you feel are valuable for your career as a freelancer. By doing this, you will have much more knowledge to contribute to the conversations and won’t feel as if you’re wasting your time. You can also start your own discussions if a topic you want to discuss has not yet been addressed.
3. Stay Current
A very important aspect of using LinkedIn groups is ensuring you remain up to date on your discussion topics. If you commented on a discussion, recheck the status of that comment as often as you feel is necessary. By doing this, you will show others how committed you are to the topic being discussed and will build much more valuable connections with other professionals in the group.
Remember that the more active you are, the more visibility you get within the group. This is not only about appearing here and there in the discussion to get noticed at last. The best thing is that active members are constantly featured on the group home page in the “Recent activity” widget:
4. Start a Group
After gaining experience by joining LinkedIn groups and building connections in them, the next step is to start your own group. Of course, this isn’t a requirement but it can provide much more freedom and drastically increase your LinkedIn exposure. By creating a group, you can initiate valuable discussions and attract the types of professionals with whom you want to connect.
Another awesome which (which I often see neglected) is that you can create subgroups. The subgroups allow you to more effectively unite people by some specific interest to create the huge community hub (and thus turn into the influencer).
The great example of smart using the subgroups is The Blog Zone (started by Mike Clough). The group is divided into the subgroups by some specific bloggers’ interest (and even more! Mike has invited the niche influencer to moderate each of those niche-specific groups):
- The Guest Blogger
- Social Media for the Blogger
- The Blog Promoter, etc.
LinkedIn is a powerful social network that can help advance your career as a freelancer. By joining this social network’s groups and regularly participating in them, you can build connections not only with other freelancers but also with potential future clients.
What About You?
Are you using LinkedIn’s group features to promote your freelancing business?
Top image by mariosundar