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social selling


Leverage Your Connections PAUL CASTAIN


Everyone and their mother (seriously) tells you to join LinkedIn and get involved. They tell you it’s a great place to build your brand and ultimately increase sales. But how? One way is via LinkedIn groups. Here are five types of LinkedIn groups you can leverage for greater sales success – and a few thoughts on how you can leverage each of them.


1. INDUSTRY GROUPS Industry groups are great for keeping up to date with your industry, networking with others (if you’re considering another job opportunity), and bouncing ideas off of your peers. You can also use these types of groups to gather competitive intelligence. Just don’t overindulge. Like that familiar face you cling to at a networking event, it’s “safe” and can become a convenient excuse for you not to branch out. Don’t spend all your time here.


2. VERTICAL GROUPS A vertical group is where you go when you want to hang out with a particular vertical you’re targeting. For example: If I’m targeting printers, I would want to join a group from that vertical. Doing so helps me spot the “hot topics,” learn the lingo, identify influencers, and spot potential “triggers” I can use to warm up that cold call I’m about to make!


3. LOCAL GROUPS AND GROUPS IN AREAS YOU WANT TO BUILD UP For example, I live in New York, so I joined a few local New York groups. At the same time, I travel quite a bit to Hous- ton – hence my membership in the InHouston group. Through this group, I now have additional contacts in the local area I want to build up. Also, when calling a prospect, I check the local LinkedIn group as part of my


pre-call planning research. Because of this, I’ve been able to reference local legislation, rodeos, concerts, networking events, etc.


4. PROFESSIONAL GROUPS THAT HELP YOU HONE YOUR CRAFT As an aspiring sales rock star, I belong to numerous sales, marketing, and social media-type groups. There’s always something new to learn or a contrarian perspec- tive to consider. This helps keep me from becoming the proverbial “Old Dog.” Just be careful not to spend all your time here!


5. PARALLEL GROUPS These are groups that have participants who sell to the same audience as you but they aren’t competitors. For example: I own a sales training business, so I network with recruiters who place high-level senior sales leaders. I benefit from this because my recruiter contacts introduce me to the vice presidents of sales with whom they’re working – and my recruiter friends benefit because I know sales leaders who need sales rock stars. You can do the same in building your network through the various parallel groups!


A final tip: Joining a bunch of LinkedIn groups and then


proceeding to do a whole lotta nothing is pointless. Get off the sidelines and get involved so you can start discus- sions, contribute, and demonstrate your expertise. 


Paul Castain is the vice president of rock star development for Castain Training Systems. He offers more than 1,500 blog posts and 150 free audio sales tips on his blog, Paul Castain’s Sales Playbook. For more information, email ctstrainer@yahoo.com.


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