Joining an online business networking group and private messaging every member about your product or service is spam – no one will do business with you and people will leave the group if the moderators don’t control this.
Similarly joining a group and posting about your services in discussion areas and chat without taking the time to learn the rules and build connections is also seen as spammy.
So how do you approach online business networking groups without spamming everyone?
Here are some approaches that have been proven to work for me over years of marketing through online groups. I am using our Bizmentum online community as an example here, but this will work with LinkedIn or any other online business networking groups.

Choose the Right Network

The first step is to choose the right network for your target audience. There are a lot of specialty networking groups out there. For example, is a forum for people interested in knives and knife collecting. So this would be a perfect group for someone who sells knives or makes custom knives.
Look for online business networking groups that encourage connections, referrals, and doing business together. At Bizmentum, we are building a culture of professionals and business people who are dedicated to helping each other succeed.

Fill Out Your Profile Fully

When people want to find out more about you, they go to your profile. So make sure it is filled out fully with things like:
  • What you do
  • What you are looking for
  • Links to your portfolio, website, and social media
These help you show up when people search. Also, as you engage on the network, people will click on your link to learn more about you.

Monitor Discussion Areas

Sometimes people will post that they are looking for certain services. Replying to these people isn’t spam because they are asking for help and you are offering it.

Ask Questions Publicly

A great way to start in a new online networking group is to ask questions. In the beginning, don’t worry about trying to make the questions lead to your services, instead ask questions about how best to use the service or ask for recommendations for things you are genuinely looking for.
Asking questions:
  • Creates engagement
  • Shows people you are contributing to the community
  • Puts people one click away from your portfolio to learn more about you

Give To The Online Business Networking Group, THEN Receive

Ask not what your community can do for you, ask what YOU can do for your community!
Approach the community with the idea of contributing to the community first, then benefiting yourself in the long run. This comes across as genuine and makes people more likely to want to work with you.
And it gives you a chance to position yourself as an expert on the topic.
I regularly help people in productivity discussion groups and this has come back to me tenfold.

Join Online Events

See if your online business networking group has scheduled events like webinars and meetups. These often give you a chance to talk with other members live and learn more about them.
Some types of events I have seen include:
  • Webinars
  • Member meetups
  • Matching services
  • Discussion circles
  • Brainstorming sessions

Review Other’s Profiles

Years, ago, I read the book “Swim With the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive” by Harvey MacKay.
Mackay was an envelope company CEO. Key points from the book
  • His industry was a mature industry, so their own competitive advantage was being better at sales
  • Salespeople all had to complete the 66 point MacKay profile to get to know customers better so they could sell more

Online networking groups make it easier to get to know people before you approach them. In essence, the profiles and engagements in the group are feeding you the information that McKay’s salespeople used to have to work to find out.

Review their profile, visit their website and social media and you can see what they do and what they are passionate about. This gives you other avenues to approach them.

Connect with Founders and Moderators

The founders and moderators of a group reach a much higher percentage of the community than the average user. So they are in a position to make a lot more referrals to you if they have a good relationship with you.
Help the founders and moderators wherever possible and build relationships with them.

Invite Others to the Community

When you find a community you like, start inviting others to the community. This grows the community for everyone and the people you invite will also eventually invite people. And the founders notice how many people each member invites.
Want to join a free online business networking group that values members and has a culture of referring to each other? Join Bizmentum today.