How familiar are you with LinkedIn Groups? This section of the social networking site (found on the top navigation bar) is dedicated to communities of professionals based on common interests, experiences, affiliation and goals. Groups can be a great source of industry information and discussions, as well as an effective way to connect with likeminded professionals.
You'll find tens of thousands of LinkedIn Groups to choose from—the challenge is sorting through the noise to find active groups that fit your interests (and even then, the groups' activity and discussions are hidden until your memberships have been approved). We've done the legwork, and below are five groups for anyone interested in the goings on of the social media niche. The discussions posted in these groups are smart, current and frequent (with very few spam messages and advertising posts). If you join any of these groups, be wary of your settings: The default is to receive a daily digest of activity as well as once-a-week group announcements.
[For a collection of LinkedIn tips and tricks, read: "LinkedIn Tips: Getting More from the Social Networking Service."]
Group Description: "A group to connect executives, consultants and other people passionate about the cultural, organizational and business impacts of introducing social media inside companies. Doesn't tolerate product or service advertising."
Group Owner: Emanuele Quintarelli, partner and enterprise 2.0 strategist in Open Knowledge
Recent Discussions: What should your intranet be doing with Twitter, social networks, podcasting, RSS, tagging, online video, wikis and blogs? / How do you plan on creating an information management strategy for the next decade? 2. Intelligent Social Media
Group Description: "This group will be actively managed and moderated. By joining you will be able to identify those areas of interest to you in the social media sphere, network with your peers across all verticals and geographies grappling with the same problems, and more importantly, be inspired by the enormous possibilities offered by the fast-evolving world of social media.
"Whether you want to understand how to create a trust network around your brand, listen to what people are saying about your brand in social spaces, harness the transformational power of enterprise 2.0 in your organization, or just get a handle on where to start, this is the group for you."
Group Owner: Beth Weesner, CEO of Marketing Transformation Services
Recent Discussions: How do you manage your social media activity and which tools do you prefer? / How many hours per week are you currently spending on social media? / Social networking and its impact on our lives. / Location-based social media risks.
Group Description: "The #1 LinkedIn Strategies Group focuses on creating professonal success on LinkedIn. Managed by the best LinkedIn Experts."
Group Owner: Nathan Kievman, founder and CEO at Corporate Social Media Solutions
Recent Discussions: What are some of the best practices to use social media in a niche market? / Is Twitter noise or an effective business tool? / How do you define social media? / How can we use LinkedIn as a coaching tool? / Three new LinkedIn Job Search Tips. 4. Social Media Club
Group Description: "This is the beginning of a global conversation about building an organization and a community where the many diverse groups of people who care about social media can come together to discover, connect, share, and learn."
Group Owner: Chris Wilson, marketer and brand strategist
Recent Discussions: Are you using Twitter to maximize your search engine visibility? / Why I use Twibes and why you might like it, too. / Social Media—concentrate on how, not what. / Have you tried selling social media engagement to an external or internal client? How do you sell and what kinds of questions do you get? 5. Social Media Today
Group Description: "Bloggers, sales pros, marketers, pr and media professionals, students academics. Up your game and hook up with the world best thinkers on social media and Web 2.0."
Group Owner: Unknown
Recent Discussions: What is the best social aggregator? / I want to begin working with someone to handle social media. What are the top five questions I should ask? / Looking for case studies on the successful use of social media to grow a business. / I have a Twitter account but I am not using Twitter the way I should. Do you have any advice on the first few steps I should be taking?