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Advance Your Career with LinkedIn Groups

Whether you're employed or unemployed, it is critical to establish your visibility and credibility in your field. LinkedIn Groups is an important way to do this. A great profile is useful, but you can't just sit around waiting for people to notice you. Groups are one of LinkedIn's most powerful tools.

Keep abreast of your field
You Don't have to wait for conferences any more to communicate with thoughtful and stimulating peers. LinkedIn groups give you daily access to thought leaders and other important people in your field. It's a place where you can keep up to date, starting discussions, contributing to them, and gaining key knowledge.

Make connections outside the group
By sharing your ideas, people get to know each other. If someone's post impressed you, you might reach out to them and ask them to get together for coffee to discuss it further (or by phone if a meeting isn't geographically feasible).

A big advantage of being active in groups is that LinkedIn allows you to send emails to group members who are not in your network - making them an extremely valuable connection tool.

Choose good groups for you
Use the group directory to search for relevant groups. There are a LOT of groups in LinkedIn. In fact, a search for "Mechanical Engineer" turns up 800+ groups. Consequently, you may have to try out some groups to find a good fit - or check with colleagues to find good groups in your field. You might also look at the profiles of colleagues in your field to see which groups they belong to. Find groups with a good moderator who keeps out the spam, has stimulating discussions, and (sometimes) cuts off a discussion that strays too far off topic or if it becomes too contentious.

Control the level of activity
Pick the level of activity that's right for you with each group - or you can be overrun with unwanted mail. When I first started using groups, I joined a group with a member who often posted several times in a single day. This grew so annoying that I began to automatically delete anything from that group - until I learned to manage the problem.
On the group's main page, just under the logo, click the tab "More" and on the pull down menu that appears, click "My Settings." Here you can choose to receive notification every time there's a new discussion OR you can get a Digest of the group's activities. You can choose either a daily or weekly digest - or to get nothing from the group, if you prefer.

I Don't have time for this!!
Perhaps you're rolling your eyes and thinking, "I'm already up to my eyeballs in work (or looking for work). I Don't need anything more on my plate." If so, you Don't need to be spending hours and hours at it. Do budget some time once a week and take a half hour. You Don't have to write articles either. It's time consuming. Many people are better off responding to the posts of others.

Start your own group?
This is a great option for some people. You can start a small group, or grow it into a large one. Mary McFarlin started LinkedIn Chicago a few years ago, and it has grown to over 51,000 people. Not only is it an opportunity to network online, but she has made it an in-person networking organization as well. It was a lot of work, but the personal and professional benefits to her are incalculable.

NOTE: Be sure to sign up for Lucrative Careers' free LinkedIn webinars at


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