LinkedIn groupAs far as generating leads goes, we lean heavily on LinkedIn. For B2B firms like us, it’s a great way to increase influence with an engaged community, via features like LinkedIn Groups. Let’s just hope Microsoft’s influence doesn’t drag it down (need we mention Nokia?).

We’re going to remain optimistic for the time being, however, and hope that Microsoft has learnt from its previous failings, which would mean LinkedIn remains every B2B marketer’s best friend.

One of the reasons that B2B marketers love LinkedIn quite so much is the ability to create your own LinkedIn group. As LinkedIn puts it, Groups “provide a place for professionals in the same industry or with similar interests to share content, find answers, post and view jobs, make business contacts, and establish themselves as industry experts”.

It’s that last benefit, in particular, that holds most appeal – but you’re only going to build a reputation as a thought leader if your group has a sizeable number of members. Here, then, is how to grow your LinkedIn group, courtesy of the Social Media Examiner:

1. Sell your group in the ‘About’ box

You’ll get nowhere on LinkedIn – or in content marketing for that matter – if you adopt a self-promotional approach. However, there are occasions when talking yourself up is necessary, such as when putting together your group description.

While you’re not blowing your own trumpet per se, you will be trying to convince people that you’ll be able to provide a platform for some insightful discussion. So put some time into composing the ‘About this group’ box, making sure you include the group’s purpose and relevant industry keywords.

2. Invite interested parties

When it comes to building a group of considerable size, you might be inclined to invite all your connections – but not all your connections are going to be interested in joining. Stick to inviting those who would be able to make a meaningful contribution to the group. To do this, go to your group’s main page and click the ‘Invite Others’ button, where you will be able to type in the name of individual connections who meet your group’s criteria.

3. Leverage your peers’ networks

It might sound a little cheeky, but it’s well worth finding the courage to ask relevant people to promote your group to their members – especially if they have a sizeable database in your target market.

The key is to offer an incentive in return – an offer of promoting their content, for example – and to compose a personal email that gives them the impression that they aren’t one of tens of people to have received the request.

4. Leverage your email database

If you’ve got an engaged email database which is well aligned with your LinkedIn group, create one-on-one emails that are quick in getting to why they would find benefit from joining. While this might not result in a huge surge in membership requests, it should still give your group some extra credibility by driving the numbers up.

5. Create a LinkedIn sponsored ad

If you’re really serious about making the most of your LinkedIn group, consider promoting it through sponsored (or boosted) posts. Sure, it’ll cost you a bit of budget, but boosted posts allow you to target potential group members by their job title and function, industry, company size and level of responsibility.

Numbers aren’t everything, of course. It’s much better to have a group comprising highly engaged members who are reading and contributing to a unique and worthwhile discussion, as opposed to a highly populated group full of self-promotional posts. However, the more members to your name, the more influence you will be seen to have.