The Problem With Linked In Groups

linked in groupsI watched two webinars about using Linked In over the weekend. Sad, I know, but it had to be done. No stone is left unturned in the search for information about how to put my clients in front of potential new customers.

And that is effectively what Linked In does.

It’s a business networking opportunity. And, just as you get raiders in real life community groups, the same thing happens on Linked In Groups.

LinkedIn, SEO and Recommendations

The first webinar dealt with the SEO possibilities of Linked In and how optimising your profile in the right way can get you seen by more Linked In users, who will then contact you to connect and, hopefully, do business. This is the part of Linked In that I understand.

It is a good search engine for business owners in your area and allows you to see recommendations from people who have worked with them and who you might know or whose opinion you can check out via a mutual friend.

Linked In Groups As Honey Traps

The second was all about using Linked In Groups to target potential new clients. This ‘grooming’ has felt distinctly grubby to me – right from the outset.

Last year, I did go into a few groups but they seemed to have been set up purely to lay a honey trap. And I put my hands up and say, yes, I was there to see if I could get my face known as someone who knew her stuff so that people might contact me to work with me. Just as I would at a regular networking breakfast. You do that by assessing the questions and conversations that are running and seeing if you can add something to the mix.

This was a group specifically aimed at business owners who wanted help with growing their business online. There were other marketing experts giving value and free information, along with lots of high talk about this not being a group where people just tried to sell stuff. But, within days of those announcements, the first status update arrived from the administrator enquiring how people would feel if a seminar was run… and how much members would be prepared to pay for such an event. Maybe it’s me, but it was like watching flies hitting a piece of sticky paper on a hot day. I’m sure the seminar gave great value but I just did not like the set up process. I did not return.

The webinar I watched on Sunday was an extension of that strategy (the old forum technique), where marketers go into one of the groups where business owners from a specialist niche gather to chew the cud of running their operations – plumbers, doctors, dentists. Areas of business where new customers can be worth a lot of money over a long period of time. These are the holy grail to a marketer.

Even though they know nothing about those fields, they join. Then they check out the websites and bios of the members before cherry picking the best ones to sell their services to. Or they answer a few questions about marketing, giving value and building trust and then offer to run a webinar on a particular subject.

In itself, this is not a bad thing because it does establish you as an expert in your field and, if the webinar is free, then it can build sufficient trust for customers to come to you of their own accord. Maybe it’s just me and I will never make a ‘six figuuuure income’ as a marketer but it all just makes me feel very sleazy.

The funniest thing about this is that a new group was set up recently in our area and I was messaged within Linked In by the administrator from a marketing company – someone I do not know – and given a free pass to join. I went to take a look and all the usual suspects were there from my regular networking groups, along with some from further afield who I have seen around online. Marketers and regular business owners all mixed together.

A week later, along with all the other members, I received an email from the administrator castigating certain members for using the group purely to leave links that drew attention to their own sales pitches and not offering any other value. A case of stolen thunder perhaps? It’s hard to tell.

Whatever, if you’re thinking of joining a group on Linked In, look at who is running it. If it is someone whose business is not related to your niche, then you need to ask yourself why that group is there.

Because there will be an ulterior motive.

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