As of April 2015, LinkedIn has more than 350 million users. Its users are worldwide and exist in 200 countries and territories. Therefore, it’s imperative to establish a presence on the site. What does this mean for you? If you’re not on LinkedIn, you should be!

Already joined? Great! Often, users utilize the social platform for job hunting and reconnecting with old classmates and colleagues. However, most overlook the power of joining LinkedIn groups. These have several benefits. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Relevant

First and foremost, you need to join that are relevant to your interests and professional. For example, if you are a marketer, searching “marketing” would be an excellent place to start.

In order to search, go to the search bar at the top of the home page. There should be a dropdown bar, select “groups.” Then, search for the topic or industry of your liking.

Once you search, the results will show the most popular groups. You can also filter your search by using the search filters to the left.

Some groups will be open. Once you select “join,” you will be in. Others are closed and require administrative approval before admission.

Set Those Settings

Once you’ve joined or been accepted into a group, it’s time to adjust your settings. Click on the group and select the icon next the member button. Alter your notifications by changing your contact settings. After you’re done, don’t forget to save your changes.

Have a Conversation

The most important part of LinkedIn Groups is the discussions. These serve as resources and information between group members. You can like and comment on the posts as well as follow them to receive updates to certain conversations.

When posting an original discussion in a group, clarify what type of post it is: general, job or promotion. Posts are separated by tabs at the top of the group’s main page.

In a way, discussions are a way to build authority and expertise within a group. The more often you do this, the more likely you’ll be considered an authority on a topic.

Thinking of posting your own discussion? We suggest not posting something just for your benefit. Many groups are heavily moderated. Unrelated comments and discussions or posts intended for sales are often deleted. If you do, be sure to choose “promotion.”

Now What

Now that you’re participating within LinkedIn Groups, what should you do now? Make connections! If you find yourself engaging with someone within a group, don’t be afraid to connect with them and carry on the conversation further. The more valuable connections you have, the better for not only you as an individual, but also for your business or organization. Follow up with your connections regularly.

Other Practices

  • Member of a local or national organization? Chances are they have a group on LinkedIn, search for it and join!
  • Don’t forget to show others the respect just like you would in person.
  • Look over the rules set by group administrators and follow them.
  • Remember groups are not for business promotion, but for sharing ideas and starting discussions on relevant and useful topics to an industry.
  • Cannot find the group you are looking for? Any LinkedIn user can create a group!