With lighter trade show attendance, B2B businesses can continue to make connections and network effectively with LinkedIn Groups.

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Facing uncertain economic times, the business world’s reliance on and use of trade show marketing is decreasing.

And while face-to-face networking is still extremely important in the B2B sales world, the ability to do that is becoming more difficult.

Fortunately, LinkedIn Groups offers B2B professionals the chance to interact with one another, network and build and strengthen relationships.

Here is a short video to introduce or reacquaint you with LinkedIn Groups:

Despite the millions of people who belong to LinkedIn Groups, many are either a) not taking advantage of the networking opportunities, or b) not doing it right.

In a post by Anum Hussein on LinkedIn’s blog, she outlines the best practices for using LinkedIn Groups with “7 Ways Marketers Can Benefit from Participating in LinkedIn Groups“…

  1. Join Groups Pertinent to Your Industry
  2. Become a Top Influencer
  3. Start a Poll
  4. Start a Discussion
  5. Share Through Other Social Networks
  6. Measure the Results
  7. Repeat

And to get further up to speed on LinkedIn marketing, you can check out three HubSpot webinars, “How to Master LinkedIn for Marketing” with Scott Engelman, Director of Online Marketing at LinkedIn. The webinars are free and available on demand.

One word of caution about marketing with LinkedIn Groups: Don’t start a new group as a first step. To be a successful group, it takes a lot of work.  In “The B2B Social Media Book” by Kipp Bodnar and Jeffrey L. Cohen, they explain…

“Before starting your own group, spend time in other groups and watch how a well-managed group runs. A new group needs to recruit members, have an active community manager, have an industry focus that is larger than the sponsoring company, and have an editorial calendar, or plan, to keep the group membership active with information to comment on.”

If you already manage a group, or are ready to commit the time and effort to running a new one, Social Media Examiner recommends six steps in “How to Build a Thriving LinkedIn Group“…

  1. Choose a narrow niche and specialty category
  2. Create a group description that includes the name of your target market and your specialty category
  3. Make your group an open group with member pre-approval
  4. Closely manage and monitor your group
  5. Position yourself as the leader of the group
  6. Promote your group to build your membership

Related to that last point (#6) on promoting your group, here is a post from the Content Marketing Institute on advance techniques on getting the word out, “5 LinkedIn Group B2B Content Marketing Tips.”

What do you think? How have you used LinkedIn Groups? Please share your comments below.

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