This is a guest blog post written by Kathryn Marr is the co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of Blue Ivory Creative, a digital marketing company based out of Nashville, TN. A graphic and web designer, as well as social media manager, she brings a passion for entrepreneurship and creativity to the table. Kathryn loves helping people pursue their dreams and be successful doing what they love to do. Find Kathryn on Social Media here: Facebook, Instagram.
So you’ve probably heard over and over again: Networking is an important part of owning a business. But if you’re like me, the idea of showing up at a networking group full of people you don’t know is intimidating! I have a solution for you and, honestly, it works a lot better for me than typical networking groups! Facebook Groups are an excellent way to connect with other entrepreneurs and collaborate for a mutual benefit.
Choosing the Right Group
There are a ton of groups on Facebook that are available for you to join. How do you know which one is right for you? Here are a few key factors to think about:
- Number of members. When you’re trying to decide on the right networking group for you, take a look at the number of members. You want a group that has enough members to make it worthwhile. It’s also important to think about whether or not there are too many members (especially in your industry) as well – you may not want to put a ton of effort into a group if you’re going to get lost.
- Amount of engagement. Take a look at the responses and engagement that posts get within the group. How often are people posting? How many comments are there? Are they helpful and related, or do they seem spammy? You don’t want to put your time into a group with very little engagement. Lots of helpful comments show that people are interested in the content in the group and willing to connect with other entrepreneurs.
- Types of members. If you’re a small business owner, you should know all about your target audience. This is critical for all of your marketing, branding, networking and sales efforts. Whatever Facebook Group you choose should contain some members of your target audience. Find out as much information about the members as possible – industries, age groups, gender, etc.
How Do I Find Facebook Groups?
There are a few different ways to find groups that may work well for you. The first is using Facebook’s search box. Search using keywords that relate to the type of group that you’re looking for. I.E. “Entrepreneurs” or “Bloggers”. Once the search results come up, you can filter them by “Groups” and then choose groups you might like to join from there.
Another option is to Google search recommendations for Facebook groups. An example search might be “best Facebook groups for entrepreneurs.” This group list from Melyssa Griffin is targeted towards female entrepreneurs, and has great options for business owners!
Once you join one group, Facebook may also make recommendations for other, related groups for you to join. I would recommend not joining more than 2-3 groups – your time is valuable, and spreading it out between too many groups will most likely not be effective.
Using Facebook Groups Effectively
So you’ve chosen the groups that you want to be a part of. How do you use them effectively? Below are some tips and tricks that I’ve learned from my own experience in Facebook groups.
Follow the rules of the group. This may seem self-explanatory, but I’ve seen plenty of people that ignore this advice. The group admin has established specific rules to promote successful networking within his or her Facebook group. Ignoring these rules are a great way to get banned from the group or to, at the very least, damage your reputation and success within the group.
Don’t be spammy. Facebook networking groups were created for, well, networking. Unless it’s a sales-oriented group, posting advertisements for your products or services (outside of suggested related topics such as promotional threads or providing an answer to a question) is strongly discouraged. This will come across as pushy and may turn people away or get you removed from the group. You also don’t want to post spammy links that go to illegitimate websites or illegal content.
Focus on connecting, not selling. While you may have some opportunities to sell your products or services within your Facebook group, that shouldn’t be your focus. Instead, you should be focused on connecting with other entrepreneurs, and providing beneficial information and resources to the other group members. Approaching your activity within the group with this in mind will make you much more successful.
Balance asking and answering. It’s completely appropriate for you to ask for advice from the other members of your group. That’s what they’re there for! You may ask for advice on dealing with a client, solving a specific problem, or finding tools that will benefit your business. But you also want to balance the questions that you ask with the questions that you answer. Ideally, you should be responding to others’ questions and commenting on their successes more often than you ask for advice yourself. So if you see an opportunity to share your knowledge, take it!
Do take opportunities to appropriately pitch your product/service. Of course, there may be opportunities to share what you have to offer. Take those opportunities! For example, another group members may be looking for a graphic designer. If that describes you, then respond appropriately and take the opportunity for work.
Connect with other group members physically, if appropriate. I’ve made some excellent friends in my own city by networking in Facebook groups. If you see the opportunity for a meetup in your area, I would highly recommend that you take it! Or, if there’s a specific entrepreneur that you might want to connect with, consider reaching out to them, either in person, or over Skype. It does wonders for you mentally and emotionally to be able to chat with someone who understands the struggles and rewards of entrepreneurship. And, who knows? You may be able to collaborate on some projects!
Support your group members. You should view the other members of your group as your friends. And, like your friends, offer support to them as it’s needed. If they share a professional success, congratulate them! If they’re upset about something that happened in their business, offer advice or console them. You’ll receive the same support back!
Respond professionally. All of your posts and comments should be professional, helpful and friendly. Avoid using negative or offensive language, or responding rudely to questions or comments. Groups are also not the place to discuss controversial issues like religion, politics, etc. (unless that’s the topic of the group!).
Use images. Including an image in your post will help it stand out and get noticed much faster. Don’t just throw something up there though; instead, choose high-quality images that are related to your topic.
Work with people in the group, when appropriate. The point of a networking group is to network. Of course, this isn’t required, but if you are looking for a virtual assistant, graphic designer, or product, try asking within your group! The favor will eventually be returned to you.
“Check in” regularly. Don’t just head to your group once a month and then disappear the rest of the time. Get involved and engage regularly to find success. Again, this doesn’t mean posting constantly, but is made up of a combination of posts and comments.
How is This Helpful For Me?
So you may be wondering – what does this all mean? What are the benefits here?
Well, based on my experience in Facebook groups, they’re a great way to form friendships, collaborate on projects, and make sales. I now have colleagues that I meet up with once a month to discuss life and business. A photographer and I promote each other’s services and collaborate on projects. And I’ve increased my business quite a bit!
If you follow the best practices listed above, and treat people with respect and professionalism, Facebook groups are a great way to get you one step closer to meeting your goals!
How do you gals network in Facebook Groups? Any etiquette that we left off?
We would be all ears, comment below and let’s chat!
Bio: Kathryn Marr is the co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of Blue Ivory Creative, a digital marketing company based out of Nashville, TN. A graphic and web designer, as well as social media manager, she brings a passion for entrepreneurship and creativity to the table. Kathryn loves helping people pursue their dreams and be successful doing what they love to do. Find Kathryn on Social Media here: Facebook, Instagram.
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stock photography provided by Haute Chocolate.