There are groups for nearly every conceivable professional (and some not so professional) interest – school alumni, work current or former associates, professional affiliations, regional professional networking groups, and so on. If you cannot find a group to join based on your professional interest (unlikely), then start one of your own.
There are multiple career management advantages of joining groups:
- Join groups to learn new methods and techniques to do your job better. If you are trying to figure out an answer to an issue for your client or company, check group discussions to see if our issue has been discussed. If not, then post a question and see who responds.
Join groups to show your subject-matter expertise. Answer someone else’s question. Chances are, someone will agree, and someone will challenge. Go with it. Engage in a polite and professional discussion about the merits of your answer. Others are watching, and you are building your brand.
Join groups to follow the discussions of someone you respect, or of someone for whom you might want to work. What is important to them? How do they talk about it? What do they reference?
Join groups to gain access to group members. DO NOT SEND SPAM!! However, if you have been trying to get a phone number or email address for someone at a particular company, find out what groups they belong to. Join those groups. Now, you are allowed via LinkedIn to send them a message. But before you do, see what they are talking about in the group (point 2), and if you have time, begin to set yourself up as a subject matter expert (point 2), to increase your chances that they will respond when you do reach out.
Success doesn’t come to you. You go get it.