As a job seeker, your primary focus is to stand out of the crowd and be seen. When it comes to LinkedIn Groups, participation is mandatory. Spend five to ten minutes a day cruising your top three groups and interacting with people in one or more of the following ways:
Comment on other people’s posts. On the group’s page, look at the Latest Discussions as well as the Most Popular Discussions. When you find a discussion that interests you, add your two cents.
A good comment always adds to the conversation, whether in a LinkedIn Group or on a blog. Avoid pleasantries like “Good point” or “I like what you’re saying.” Instead, offer further examples or even dispute the points made with counter examples. You can take a person’s point to a logical extreme, deconstruct it, or build it up. An easy commenting strategy is to tell a story from your own experience.
Share links with your group that you think are valuable. If you aren’t quite ready to post your own original discussion, then you may consider adding value to the group by sharing a news article or blog post that others may enjoy as well. Add your opinion of the article and ask for participation.
Ask a question or ask for opinions. Imagine you’re at a networking event filled with industry experts. What would you ask them? Would you ask them how to get started in the field or for advice for someone in your situation? Perhaps you would ask them about an industry-specific issue or a news item that questions the status quo. LinkedIn calls it a discussion board for a reason!
Interrupt conversations. Some discussions can get very heated. Controversial ones can be fun. Jump into the fray. Back someone up who’s making a controversial point. Challenge an assumption. Take sides.
Avoid sounding desperate when interacting with people online. A lot of people are out there looking for work. So answer the question of what makes you different and show the value you bring to the table. The LinkedIn Group’s discussion page isn’t your platform for sympathy or for asking for favors.
After you’re an active member of several groups, you have some credibility when you eventually ask to connect with other members. Members of the group begin to recognize your name and face and are, thus, more likely to accept your invite. Here’s a great way to make a new friend in an active group:
Keep track of the most active members.
You’ll begin to recognize active members over a few weeks of monitoring discussions.
Send a private reply to one of these contributors’ posts or comments.
A private reply is a way to e-mail group members directly and privately, even if you’re not yet connected.
Tell this member how much you’ve enjoyed interacting with him or her within the group and that you want to connect.
Send an invite to connect (if the person agrees) and pat yourself on the back for finding a new friend who you’ve strategically and carefully vetted.