I heard a lady say last week that she and her company had given up on LinkedIn. They started a group and it was going no where. She said the only people who were participating in the group were her competitors and frankly, her company wasn’t there to play with them. While I don’t know the details of her particular situation, I’ve run into this issue before.

Most companies interested in LinkedIn start a group about their company, then maybe a group about what they do. So if you’re an accounting firm, you start a group about accounting. The problem is that your prospective customers probably don’t go to LinkedIn looking for accountants to hang out with. They go looking for people like them.

Image representing LinkedIn as depicted in Cru...

The problem with this approach to LinkedIn groups and conversations is that you’re focused on you, not your customer. Try turning the idea around and taking a different approach to groups.

  • If you’re an accounting firm, start or join groups for or about running a business, being a CEO or a CFO of a corporation.
  • If you’re a jewelry company, start a group focused on fashion.
  • If you’re a car insurance company, start a group focused on travel or road trips.
  • If you’re an internet marketing consultant, start a group focused on small businesses.

Turn the table and spend your time focused on what your customers might be looking for, not what you are. Because if you do, you’ll find what you want.

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About Jason Falls

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is the founder and chief instigator for Social Media Explorer's blog and signature Explore events. He is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for CafePress, one of the world's largest online retailers. His opinions are his, not necessarily theirs. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).

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Comments Policy

Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • http://occamsrazr.com Ike Pigott

    A wise man once said, “The best way to build a network is to be the kind of person other people would want to network with.”

  • Mark W Schaefer

    LinkedIn is the most under-used platform on the social web. So powerful, so mis-understood. Thanks for the relevant post!

  • http://twitter.com/theRotater the Rotater

    Excellent points. It's difficult to realize the need to put the customer/client first in all things….but when you do, the results can be staggering.

  • carlabobka

    If you want to lead a great LinkedIn group take a look at how these 2 groups' moderators operate: Forbes Woman and Success Through Networking. They do a kick-ass job, and the result is a repository of information I come back to consistently.

  • http://twitter.com/HotSpotPromo Darlene Hull

    Great post, Jason. I have heard many a “guru” tell you to follow people according to your keyword list, which creates exactly this scenario. Over and over I tell my people not to find followers based on keywords, but based on the kind of people LOOKING for those keywords. You've done a brilliant job of explaining this in a succinct and practical way. Thanks! I'll be sharing this article often.

  • http://www.arikhanson.com Arik Hanson

    Dead on. I actually recommend clients start by interacting on other groups where there customers are active. There's a bit more credibility in building trust and developing relationships that way. But, it's the same premise–focus on what your customers need, not what you need.

    @arikhanson

  • http://www.sixfigurerenegade.com Peter dunin

    Quality post!thank you for bringing LinkedIn to my attention.

  • http://www.vocus.com Frank Strong

    Second post today I've seen on LinkedIn. LinkedIn definitely requires perseverance. If Brian Solis says Twitter moves fast and has no memory, I like to think of LinkedIn as long form social media. One person I interviewed, who has a very successful group, says it takes about 1,000 members before it reaches the tipping point and takes on a life of it's own. It's tough to elicit interaction — there are so many groups to compete with — but your advice is sage: focus on the customer.

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  • http://www.nopanicmanagement.com Liliana

    My, my, these poor accountants need some marketing help and fast, just basics really. Who wants to listens about you, even in private life, let alone in business? I wish to remind ''accountants'' that everyone cares not about you but what you can do for them. And you better know WHAT it is what they want done. Huh, easier said and done, but at least having this in mind you will save your breath and resources for more important things.
    PS: I am executive coach and management consultant, love the subject, but it bores me to death to hang out only and always with people like me (LinkedIn or not) and recycle the same debates so I don't only go to groups of ''people like me''.
    @carlabobka Thanks for recommendation of those groups.

  • http://twitter.com/garious1 Garious

    Yes, this advice makes perfect sense. I know you have to keep your friends close, your enemies closer and this applies to competition as well — bottom line is that you're on social networking site like LinkedIn to get prospects, even if you enjoy a few socializing activities with colleagues wearing the same hat as you do. Thanks!

  • http://www.puredriven.com Patrick Garmoe

    Jason, great tips here. For the same reason, those who are trying to build an audience on anything, a blog, an online site, a real life group, need to go where the potential pool of “clients” are. For example, I try to write for blogs and trade magazines with audiences of people who don’t already know what I do, and therefore might pay me for my expertise in social media, SEO or whatever. Too often social media types hang out and write for their fellow social media manager friends. But they’re never going to buy your service, because they do the same thing you do. Same with a LinkedIn group. It seems so simple, but it’s so often a rule of thumb disregarded. You’ve got to take your core skill, and make it relevant to your client’s world. So if you’re a social media manager, go and guest post on a realty blog, about how social media can help real estate agents, for example.

  • http://craigdeakin.com/ Craig Deakin

    Great tip Jason.

    I think most people tend to forget that it's not about them, it's about their customers. Ain't that one of the “rules” of social media. I think it's important to approach all social networks that way, engage and participate in conversations rather than just shouting out and hoping someone is going to listen.

  • http://www.brosix.com/ Brosix

    LinkedIn has been a great resource to me. I've received job offers through it and have also done a lot of networking.

  • http://www.wickedinnovations.com/ Jeorge Peter

    Nice idea, thinking in that manner will just make your business be known and not just about you.

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  • http://www.mobilemarketing305.com Joe

    My wife & I have had a good bit of success promoting our own small businesses with mobile ads & social media marketing. I want to branch out and form a service that creates and manages mobile marketing campaigns for local businesses in Miami, so your idea about starting a LinkedIn group for small business inspires me. What are other ways to get to know the local business people and let them know that this style of marketing will be beneficial for them? So many of them could benefit from this! Any advice (and/or words of warning) from more experienced marketers in the field?

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