Little-Known Strategies for Using LinkedIn Groups Effectively

LinkedIn Groups are a powerful way to build authority and leads for your business … if you know how to use them right.

I love LinkedIn Groups. They provide an effective and free way to establish connections online, while also helping you build your authority.

But the real power of LinkedIn is in owning your own group. And while anyone can start a group on LinkedIn, the smart marketer looks for ways to go beyond the obvious.

In this entertaining episode of The Missing Link, Jabez Lebret — best-selling author, speaker and marketing consultant — provides in-depth tactics that you can use today to grow your business leads.

In this episode Jabez and I discuss a wide range of topics, including:

  • Should you start a group or participate in an existing one?
  • The best way to start a discussion in an existing group.
  • The smart ways to build relationships in groups.
  • And the biggest secret revealed, how to take over an existing group!

The Show Notes

Little-Known Strategies for Using LinkedIn Groups Effectively

Voiceover: This is The Missing Link with your host, the insufferable, but never boring, Sean Jackson.

Sean Jackson: Hello everyone, and welcome to The Missing Link. I’m your host, Sean Jackson, joined as always by the unique and differential, Mica Gadhia. Mica, how are you?

Mica Gadhia: I am excellent today, Sean. And how are you?

Sean Jackson: As always, I am doing fantastic. I am especially excited about today’s show. Can I tell you why?

Mica Gadhia: Yes.

Sean Jackson: Okay, let me tell you. Because as you know, this whole show is about LinkedIn. There’s one feature of LinkedIn that when I started playing with it, I got so damn excited about. I was like, “This is the ultimate marketing tool for people doing social networks.” And that feature is: groups.

I love LinkedIn groups from a marketing perspective. They’re some of the most powerful free features inside of LinkedIn that I think change the way people market on that particular social network. I think this is absolutely essential — to understand how to use groups effectively — if you’re serious about marketing on LinkedIn. Wouldn’t you say that, Mica?

Mica Gadhia: Love it. Yeah! Let’s learn about groups.

Sean Jackson: I know, I know. I think this is absolutely awesome. In fact, when people sign up for our text messaging at 41411 with the keyword MYLINK (all one word, don’t let it autocorrect), we send you a link to a LinkedIn group so that you can start participating in the conversation. The reason I designed the show to push that LinkedIn group is because it’s hugely powerful in the ongoing conversation we want to have with our audience. Mica, what do you think of the LinkedIn group we’ve got, by the way?

Mica Gadhia: I love it. And I am loving all the people that have joined us so far already.

Sean Jackson: I know, and it’s great! This is one of the powers of the LinkedIn group concept, that people are asking questions on our LinkedIn group. They’re coming in and they’re doing it because they’re sending a text to 41411 with the keyword, MYLINK. For our international people, please remember our SMS does not work outside of the U.S. — it’s their fault, not mine.

Mica Gadhia: We love you.

Sean Jackson: We love you, so we sent you If you just email that email address — — I’ll get you an invitation to that group if you’re international. But if you’re U.S., please go ahead and get to that text messaging. Because our LinkedIn group is awesome. Today we have someone who I think is an absolute expert in using LinkedIn groups. I am so excited we have our following guest, Mr. Jabez LeBret. Pretty cool name, don’t you think?

Mica Gadhia: Yes.

Sean Jackson: I know. It’s funny because I met Jabez at Pubcon. We were on a panel together talking about LinkedIn. Out of like 100 panels they had going on at Pubcon, there was only one on LinkedIn. Jabez and I were there with this other guy. We were talking about all these different tactics, et cetera, and I was looking at Jabez’s presentation. I was like, “Man, that guy is really smart.”

Then somebody from the audience asked a funny, kind of hacky question about LinkedIn. It was really kind of interesting. I was sitting there going, “Hacking LinkedIn that way…hmm.” I look over — there’s Jabez going, “Hmm, that’s an interesting hack.” I was like, “This is a guy I got to talk to,” because he and I were thinking the same exact way on how to use LinkedIn to the benefit of a marketer. After that, we became friends. We talked. This guy’s stories about how he uses LinkedIn is awesome.

Mica Gadhia: Oh, that’s cool. I’m excited.

Sean Jackson: If you have a chance, look up Jabez LeBret on LinkedIn. Did you do that, Mica?

Mica Gadhia: In fact, I did look up Jabez LeBret on LinkedIn.

Sean Jackson: And?

Mica Gadhia: And he is cute. Can I say that? He is a real looker.

Sean Jackson: You know, I would agree with you.

Mica Gadhia: And I’m impressed with what he’s doing too.

Sean Jackson: I would agree with you. Because you said that … Mica, are you up for a three-way with Jabez?

Mica Gadhia: Oh, Sean.

Sean Jackson: Mica, I mean a three-way interview. Come on now, Mica.

Mica Gadhia: I could do an interview with Jabez LeBret. Yes.

Sean Jackson: As soon as we come back from the break, we are going to have a three-way interview with our friend, Jabez LeBret.

Mica Gadhia: Podcasting is a great way to build your online authority, but the key to success is to publish online. The Rainmaker platform makes that easy. Rainmaker is the complete online marketing solution that makes it easy and simple to execute your online marketing strategy. Whether you need a design, landing page, or a simple way to publish your own podcast, Rainmaker is the solution for you. Head on over to Rainmaker.FM/platform right now, and sign up for your free, 14-day trial, because this is the same tool that we use to publish The Missing Link. If Sean and I can use it, then so can you.

Sean Jackson: All right. Welcome back. We have our three-way interview ready. Mica?

Mica Gadhia: Yes, Sean.

Sean Jackson: Do we have Jabez LeBret on the line?

Mica Gadhia: I think we do. Jabez, are you there?

Jabez LeBret: I am here and excited. Can we call this a menage à LinkedIn? Is that a thing?

Sean Jackson: Menage à LinkedIn! A menage à link.

Jabez LeBret: Try texting that to the number.

Sean Jackson: Yeah, exactly. Your auto correct’s going to go crazy on that one. Everybody, Jabez LeBret, my good friend and truly an expert on LinkedIn groups, is with us. Jabez, thank you so much for coming in. Tell our audience a little bit more about you.

Jabez LeBret: First I just want to say, Sean and Mica, thanks for having me. It’s fantastic. The audience, thanks for coming on board and listening today, that’s fantastic. Man, I’ve been digging this podcast a lot.

Mica Gadhia: Thank you.

Jabez LeBret: Been listening to it since you guys kicked it off. It’s pretty fantastic. I’m looking forward to the next episodes for sure. A little bit about myself, I run a digital marketing agency for law firms. I figure if you could market for lawyers, you could probably market for about anybody. I’ve been speaking at Pubcon for years and State of Search down in Dallas. Sean, I’ve had the opportunity to get to sit side-by-side with you on some panels for quite a while, so it’s been great over the years.

Sean Jackson: Jabez, you’re also an author, aren’t you?

Jabez LeBret: Yeah, got a few books, mostly all on technology and digital marketing, which is great. We are the bestselling authors in the legal marketing space. Don’t tell anybody that it’s like three books in that category.

Sean Jackson: Easy to dominate when there’s not a lot of people.

Mica Gadhia: Congratulations.

Jabez LeBret: Thank you. You know, when I was in junior high I came in second in a chess tournament. Sadly there were only 2 people. That’s a true story. Yeah, I’ve written a few books. I write for Forbes on their CMO network. I’ve done a lot of journalism for NBC as well. A lot of that writing’s been revolving around social media strategies.

Sean Jackson: Okay, enough of how awesome you are. We get it.

Jabez LeBret: Hey, you kept asking. First, I’m getting Mica saying I’m cute. You guys invite me into the secret LinkedIn group that we’re not going to tell anybody about.

Sean Jackson: That’s right.

Mica Gadhia: Jabez, you’re catching on quick.

Sean Jackson: All in lieu of payments. Let’s get into the meat of this. Because as you and I both know, LinkedIn groups is one of the most powerful ways to really do some fairly sophisticated marketing in the LinkedIn network. Give us a little bit of overview of how you use LinkedIn groups — for your legal clients, for yourself personally — because I think that’s a fascinating story of how you personally are using LinkedIn groups and some of the tactics you’re doing.

Jabez LeBret: LinkedIn groups are, as you mentioned, probably the biggest area of gold on LinkedIn. And mainly it’s because of your ability to get in front of people in their inbox on their normal email. LinkedIn’s constantly trying to drive users back to the LinkedIn network, and the groups is one area — through commenting and discussions within the groups — where you’re able to actually get yourself into somebody else’s email box. Which is a valuable place to be if you don’t have their email list or may not even know who they are.

It also is an incredible mechanism for driving traffic to your LinkedIn profile. I use LinkedIn groups a lot to drive people back to my profile, and then build a profile that has the proper conversion elements on it. I know you talk about that at length. Those are two major ways to get that traffic and eyeballs into your marketing messages.

Should You Start A Group or Participate in an Existing One?

Sean Jackson: Jabez, let’s go through a couple of very quick things. First off, start a group or go to an existing group, how do you prefer to start on this?

Jabez LeBret: If you’ve got a lot of time and you don’t have a job, starting a group might not be a bad idea. It’s getting hard. There are a lot of groups out there now. I think the window of opportunity to start your own group if you don’t already have an audience …

If you already have a following — like you’ve got a big following Sean, and all of your organizations and Copyblogger and everywhere else, you all have a good, solid following, and so it makes starting a group a little easier. If you have a following, starting a group is great because you get total control of it. You can control when you send messages out to all the members of the group. You can do moderator control.

We’ve talked in the past about helping people give you their groups, is another way to go about it. Become an administrator and find someone who’s tired of running a group, and then eventually offer to just take it over for them. I’m a big fan of just jumping into groups that already exist. Find where your clients are already at. Where are your clients? Go join those groups and start participating in there, because someone else has already done all the legwork to get those clients there.

Mica Gadhia: Tell me about the discussions when you’re in these groups. How does that work, because I’ve heard that it can be a little bit scary starting out or going in there?

The Best Way to Start a Discussion in an Existing Group

Jabez LeBret: Yeah. That’s a good question, Mica. It is challenging. Starting discussions is a real … I’ve started some discussions where I wrote the discussion question for the group, and when I hit publish, the update button, I was like, “Boom, drop the mic, that discussion’s going to blow up.” Then nothing happens.

Mica Gadhia: Ugh, right.

Jabez LeBret: No one comments. No one says anything. No one likes my post. I’m like, “I know this is good. What did I do wrong?” I think I just figured out that timing is everything when you’re starting a discussion. If it doesn’t get in front of the right people at the right time, no one’s going to be interacting with it. Nobody interacts with it, it drops below the feed, and then it gets lost. If you are going to start your own discussion, then a good route to go is — on the right hand side of a group it’ll tell you who are the most influential people in that group. Those people are the ones who comment the most.

I like to send them a message — just write to their LinkedIn and say, “Hey, here’s a link to my discussion. I value what you say in this group. I think you bring a lot of smart stuff to the table. Would you mind commenting on or giving me feedback on this discussion question?” Because people love to talk about their own opinions and things, and so when you email someone asking … or I might email Sean and say, “Sean, you’re an expert at all things LinkedIn, like everything.”

Mica Gadhia: It’s true. It’s true.

Sean Jackson: Like everything.

Jabez LeBret: You have no ego, so please just …

Mica Gadhia: Also true.

Jabez LeBret: Also true. It is a little bit of an ego play. When you somebody an email saying, “Hey, I think you have really smart things to say in this group. Would you mind adding smart things to my discussion?” It’s almost impossible for them to say no. They like that kind of public notice.

Mica Gadhia: Now have you had a discussion that’s fallen flat and then you revived that exact discussion, knowing that it needed energy and life?

Jabez LeBret: No, I burn bridges. I just move on. There’s no time. I’m like, “Next, let’s get to something fresh.” The other side of that coin is to not start the discussion. Find the discussion that’s already working and then jump into that discussion.

Sean Jackson: Yeah, this is great advice. I want to back up for just a second and put context around this. If you don’t have a following, go into an existing group where your audience is, where your potential customers are. Start either creating your own discussions or participating in discussions. If you start a discussion, reach out to those top contributors on the right-hand side, send them a fairly flattering email about how you value them, and then let them start coming in and helping invigorate that discussion that you’ve started or just start chiming in on things that are already there. Is that essentially the sum of it?

Jabez LeBret: Yeah, absolutely. That was much more eloquently put than I said about the last however many minutes I was chatting about it.

Sean Jackson: I didn’t say it as cool as you did.

Jabez LeBret: The last part there though — this idea of someone’s already got a discussion going — to go along with what you were talking about. Hijacking. This is where I think the easy opportunity is. Hijack the discussion.

Mica Gadhia: What does that mean?

The Smart Ways to Build Relationships in Groups.

Jabez LeBret: What LinkedIn does is LinkedIn sends out that email. We all get them in our inbox which is such-and-such group — it’s a weekly update. You can set it to daily. It’s super annoying that way, but often most of us get it weekly. It just lists the top discussions, but it also lists who’s active in that discussion.

This is where I like to get sneaky. Instead of me starting a discussion, I go into a discussion that’s already trending so it’s already high up on the list. And that’s how LinkedIn orders those, by the way. Inside the groups, the ones top on the list are trending. Trending’s a combination of recency, number of comments, number of likes — that’s what goes into what trends.

There was one discussion that was about one of our competitors in our marketplace. We’re in legal marketing. One of the discussion questions was about one of our competitors that they were kind of bashing on them. I won’t name the competitor, but it rhymes with FindLaw.

Mica Gadhia: It starts with.

Sean Jackson: It starts with.

Jabez LeBret: It starts with F, ends with … All right, stop. They were in there. Instead of jumping into the discussion and saying, “No, no, come hire us. We’re really good at this,” I added valuable feedback to the question at hand. They said, “Hey, this is the problem I’m having with this issue.” I went in there and I said, “Here are some solutions. Here’s some things to think about. Here are some things you could do.” Then every time someone started commenting on it, I jumped back in and added more analysis every single time somebody added their two cents.

Mica Gadhia: Wow.

Jabez LeBret: Then all of a sudden, you get this one person who started the discussion to begin with. Out of 59 comments, I was 12 of them.

Sean Jackson: Wow.

Jabez LeBret: That, percentage-wise, is a lot.

Sean Jackson: Yeah.

Mica Gadhia: Yeah.

Jabez LeBret: I was dominating that discussion, and everyone … People start talking about you. They’re like, “Well, Jabez said this,” and, “Oh, if you look back.” And, “Jabez already answered that question.” Suddenly, I became the one that basically was the moderator of that little discussion.

Mica Gadhia: Wow.

Sean Jackson: And an authority on the matter.

Jabez LeBret: Correct. Even when the person from the other company jumped in to defend themselves, I provided statistical analysis in a nice way to talk about it. My LinkedIn profile views shot up by like 300% through this discussion. I got two phone calls from that single discussion within weeks.

We have a pretty high retainer for our clients. I got two phone calls from prospects. One of them turned into an actual client. This is crazy timing. Yesterday my phone rang. I was in a meeting. Went to voicemail. It was a law firm from Atlanta, Georgia that saw the discussion that was a year old.

Mica Gadhia: Whoa.

Jabez LeBret: I was like, “Get the heck out of here.” I was like, “No way.” They left me a voicemail and said, “Hey, I was reading your discussion on LinkedIn.” It happens all the time. We get about one a quarter now on something that’s old.

Sean Jackson: Wow.

Mica Gadhia: That is really powerful. To talk about how important it is, number one, to maintain integrity within these discussions, and number two, for that particular one it sounds like you went high frequency. You were 12 out of 59, so you were really involved with that. That talks volumes to how important it is for what you do on LinkedIn for the future. Wow.

Sean Jackson: Yeah.

Mica Gadhia: It makes an impact, so don’t be a jerk. Be authentic.

Sean Jackson: Agreed. I want to go through, because the next step is where I think it really gets interesting. Jabez’s advice is spot on. You’re in there. You’re participating. You’re not being a linkhole, like they like to say. You’re being someone of authority and engaging, but now you’ve got this discussion group where you’re now hopefully one of the top contributors. You’re in there. Now let’s go to the next phase, Jabez. Talk about taking over the group itself.

Jabez LeBret: I knew you were going to bring this up.

Sean Jackson: Of course.

And the Biggest Secret Revealed, How to Take Over an Existing Group

Jabez LeBret: Because I’m fairly certain this is probably the coolest thing I’ve ever shared, and you were like, “I like that.” I’m going to preface this by saying there are right ways to do things and wrong ways to do things, and you draw your own line in the sand of how you want to go about doing something. But I think that there is an ethical, moral, and correct way to do this process, which is basically hijacking a group.

The root of it is to say, “There’s this place where thousands of people have come to connect. And if I own the group I then control all the messaging that goes to that group. So I can filter out comments. I can send email blasts to that entire group.” What you want to do is identify groups that are full of your prospects, full of your target market and clients. You identify those groups that have been started by people who are also that target market.

A good example is: there are lawyer groups that were started by lawyers because the lawyer wanted to have a group talking about ethical issues for marketing services for law firms — a big issue in legal and a lawyer starts a group for it. The group blows up. Let’s say you get 30,000 lawyers in there, all chiming away. Now what started off as a really fun group for that lawyer to be running is now a real pain, because that lawyer now is trying to moderate all these crazy discussions and the spam and everything else that goes on in groups.

They get tired because that’s not what they really signed up for. You reach out to the person who owns the group. You say, “Hey, it looks like there’s a lot of volume going on here in this group. Do you want to make me one of the administrators? Then I can come in and moderate. A moderator to come in and go through, keep the spam out and make sure the questions are on target.” That person’s going to think you’re like a godsend because you’re literally taking a huge weight off their shoulders.

Then you slowly just continue to take more and more responsibility. Then eventually say, “Why don’t you just become a moderator and make me the admin of the entire group?” When that happens, maybe you just accidentally turn them off and they’re no longer part of the group anymore. That’s up to you. I’m not saying that’s a good idea, whatever you want to do, but that is essentially hijacking a group.

Sean Jackson: Exactly. Because at the end of the day, this is where I think the Holy Grail of LinkedIn discussion groups are, because there is a feature in the management tools that allows you to send an email once every four days to everyone in that group en masse at one time.

That is hugely powerful, because you basically have an email distribution system built into LinkedIn to get to everyone en masse — regardless of if it’s 10 people in a group or 10,000 in a group — once every four days. And those LinkedIn messages will be read. It’s an amazingly powerful way to do marketing inside of LinkedIn. That’s why getting a hold of a group or building a group is hugely important. Make sense?

Jabez LeBret: I love it.

Mica Gadhia: Yes, and it’s that line in the sand.

Sean Jackson: Exactly. Jabez, what other words of wisdom do you have for our audience? Quite frankly, I don’t want anyone to do what Jabez says on our group on LinkedIn.

Jabez LeBret: If you are a group owner, watch out for this kind of activity.

Sean Jackson: Exactly. Don’t do what I do. If you send a text to 41411, with keyword MYLINK, I’ll get you that link over there. Or email, I’ll get you into that private group we have. Once I get you into that group, don’t try to take it over.

Jabez LeBret: I’m coming for you, Sean.

Sean Jackson: Exactly. What is your parting tip for our audience in this whole concept that you’ve been talking about on how to get into groups, how to participate, how to help take them over? What is another power tip that you just really like as a participant inside of a discussion group, beyond what you’ve shared?

Jabez LeBret: Kind of the spine of everything that we’ve talked about, and that is to add actual valuable information, not just your opinion. Opinions are fine, and it’s okay to share your opinion, but take a moment. Step back, take a breath, maybe look up some links that aren’t your own content. Maybe go find some resources, and don’t be afraid to share resources that are valuable to the participants. Whether that’s the participants of a discussion, a discussion you’re hijacking, or a group that you’re hijacking. If you’re adding actual real value, then you’re doing it the right way.

Sean Jackson: Add value. Don’t be a linkhole. That’s the summation.

Jabez LeBret: Don’t be a linkhole.

Mica Gadhia: I love it.

Jabez LeBret: I think I’m getting that tattoo.

Sean Jackson: Exactly.

Jabez LeBret: “Don’t be a linkhole” in barbed wire around my arm.

Sean Jackson: There you go. Exactly. Now you’ll fit in with all the 20-year-olds. All righty everyone. This has been another fantastic episode of The Missing Link.

Mica Gadhia: Yes, it has.

Sean Jackson: I cannot thank you enough, Jabez, for all the insight. I think this is one of the most important topics on LinkedIn marketing. If anybody could deliver, you did buddy. And thank you so much again.

Jabez LeBret: Thank you for having me. Really appreciate it.

Mica Gadhia: Thank you, Jabez. Loved having you.

Sean Jackson: We will talk to you on the next episode of The Missing Link. This is Sean Jackson and …

Mica Gadhia: Mica Gadhia.

Sean Jackson: You have a great rest of the week.

Voiceover: You have just experienced The Missing Link, exclusively on Rainmaker.FM.