I find myself leaning more toward the curious side, because for me, Facebook groups offer the best of all worlds:
- A gathering of people with similar interests
- Access to a group of people with whom I can share ideas
- An uncomplicated platform through which to give and get insights
- A place to promote my work and learn about other people’s offers
- Space to engage in my own time and on my own terms
But what about those groups where everyone simply blasts out what they’re selling, without much regard for true engaging among group members?
Or those groups where no one really communicates with each other?
Or those groups where the same three people talk all the time, and no one else engages?
I know there are some hurdles to finding great groups, but if you use the techniques below, you might find yourself amidst a group of people willing to create mutually beneficial relationships with enterprising business owners like you.
Facebook groups are similar to IRL (in real life) meet-ups in that way: it’s easy to gather people, but true engaging is a skill—one that we as emerging entrepreneurs can benefit from if we make time to learn it.
First, let’s look at the three types of groups:
Open – The group, its members, and group posts are public and visible to all.
Closed – The group (and all its members) is public and visible to all, but only its members can see posts made in the group.
Secret – The group is invisible to the public, and only approved members can see the group, other members, and posts made in the group.
Now, let’s explore three things you can do to maximize your group experiences:
1. Do a bit of group inventory.
If you’re currently a member of multiple groups, consider the reasons why. If you were paying to be a member of each of those groups, would you say you’re getting your money’s worth? If you’re not, then is that group really worth your time? Think of each group like a potential business partner; if she doesn’t offer anything of value to your life or your business experience, perhaps you should move on and make room in your life for more rewarding experiences.
2. Find relevant groups.
If you’re not a member of any Facebook groups, type in a search term relevant to your personal or professional interest in the search box (located at the top of your Facebook home page) and examine the results. Start by reading through the wall posts to see whether the group might be of value to you, then join, engage, and make a mental note to reserve the right to go leave the group if you’re not getting any significant value.
3. Start your own group.
First, go through your friend list and gather the ones with whom you feel a true connection. Then, identify the ones who have particular similarities. For example, can you identify at least 8 of your Facebook friends who sell a tangible product that benefits women? Perhaps they’d be a good fit for a private group where you can share insights on marketing, packaging, and any other aspects of retail. Use this link for instructions on how to start your own group: http://www.wikihow.com/Create-a-New-Facebook-Group
Remember not to get out your digital bullhorn and yell out what you sell, where you’ll be speaking, or any other sales-type information. Instead, try using this acronym:
L.L.E. – LISTEN. LOCATE. ENGAGE.
Listen for the tone of the group by reading through group posts to see what topics are of interest to members of the group, and then respond authentically when you see something that resonates with you. Groups provide a great way to gather data about potential niches that may be filled by something you already offer, or something you can develop using your existing skills and your network.
Locate the leaders for each group. This is valuable because as an entrepreneur, you should be familiar with the voices that people listen to, and the places these voices show up most. Women who are willing to gather their peers and potential clients are often worth knowing and learning from. It’s also important because you can eventually form your own groups by inviting people from larger groups into your (smaller) groups to connect, share ideas, and be heard.
Engage by sharing relevant content (not just your content) in groups, and being of assistance to its members. You can also message particular group members in effort to engage in dialogue about business ideas, professional feedback, and maybe even collaborations.
Overall, Facebook groups offer a great opportunity for women like us to get to know our fellow CEO Mammas. We can use authentic conversation, regular interaction, and good ol’ curiosity to connect with others, grow our networks, and create support for ourselves and for each other as we build our businesses.