A practical guide to LinkedIn | Part III: Groups

This is the third in a 4-part series on LinkedIn for investment industry professionals. In our first 2 posts, we talked about strengthening your profile and making connections. Joining a LinkedIn group, the topic of today’s post, can be an easy way to make those connections.

But first this reminder:

These tips are based on what I understand to be the typical social media policy. The policy at your firm may be more restrictive, so. . .

Make sure that you read your firm’s social media policy carefully. If you have any questions about it (or even if you don’t), ask your supervisor to clarify exactly what is and is not permitted – then follow the guidelines to the letter. It’s not worth losing your job over a social media post.

At first glance, it might be hard to understand why anyone would choose to join a LinkedIn group. Most seem to be filled with the kind of blatant promotions that wouldn’t make it through your email spam filter.

Why join groups?

So why is it important that you join LinkedIn groups? For 3 reasons:

  1. Job postings. Employers often post job openings on the LinkedIn groups that are likely to have members with the required skill set. Yes, you can find those job postings through LinkedIn’s search functionality, but you’re more likely to spot something of interest through a group. So, if you’re in an active job search – or if you just want to keep your eye open for opportunities – be sure to join a few appropriate groups.
  2. Expand your network. Join a group, and you can send a message to any other member of the group – giving you more opportunities to connect. (Remember from the previous post that you generally can’t connect with total strangers on LinkedIn. Group membership provides you with the link you need to introduce yourself.) Access to a broader network can be critical if you’re in a job search or in sales.
  3. Discussion content – in some groups. All LinkedIn groups have a virtual bulletin board for the use of group members and managers. For most groups, these are an unfiltered stream of promotional messages – not much different from the bulletin board full of business cards that you see at your local coffee shop. There are, however, a few groups where members post content that helps keep you up to date with industry developments. If I can make a plug for NICSA: we’re working hard to make our group content-driven. Check it out, and read our new posting guidelines.

How do you find groups?

To find groups of interest:

  • LinkedIn recommendations. LinkedIn will suggest groups that appear to be appropriate for you. You can find these recommendations in the upper right-hand corner in the Groups tab.
  • Search for groups. You can use LinkedIn search capabilities to find groups. Use the keywords highlighted in your profile as a starter.
  • Checking connections. Look to see which groups your connections belong to – they’re listed at the bottom of their profiles.

What can you do in groups?

Unfortunately, for professionals in the investment industry, the answer is “not much.”

  • DON’T start or comment on discussions – unless you’re absolutely certain that your firm’s policy allows you to. Odds are that it’s completely forbidden.
  • DON’T “Like” discussions. Neither the SEC nor FINRA is very fond of the Like button – which means your firm’s compliance group probably hates it. It’s so easy to “Like” something – but don’t be tempted, unless you’re sure it’s ok under the social media policy.
  • Do scan for content of interest. Read a few posts with interesting titles. You might find a new source of information that can give you a boost in your career.

Did you think groups were tricky? Just wait until you read about recommendations. That’s the subject of the fourth and final part of this series. Stay tuned.

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