One of the areas I always do research around, regardless of the type of role or industry, is LinkedIn Groups. I have found the information and candidates through this method for every kind of search.
Searching for LinkedIn Groups can be helpful in a few different ways, but what we will cover in this post is how you can use them to identify LinkedIn profiles via search engines such as Google and Bing. LinkedIn members join groups because of interest or experience in the topic the group is based around. Because of this they can be great ways of targeting your search, similar to what you might do with target companies.
If you haven’t used LinkedIn Groups before you can access the Group Directory through this link – http://www.linkedin.com/groupsDirectory – from here you can search for groups by typing in a couple of key words and/or search by category.
When searching the directory keep your search terms simple and specific. For example, if you’re looking for Auditors you might just try searching by that job title. As I write this that search brings back 161 results, and while not all of them will be relevant, the front page includes links to such groups as “International Register of Certificated Auditors (IRCA)” and “Official – Certified Internal Auditor (CIA)” Combined, these groups have over 6000 members. Now, these are international groups, but they may still have local members, the next step will help identify the people we want.
Armed with these group names lets go to Google (this string will work on Bing too). Here we can use a search string targeted at finding Linkedin profiles that have these group names on them. Such as:
site:au.linkedin.com “International Register of Certificated Auditors (IRCA)” -dir
Let me explain that string. The first bit – site:au.linkedin.com – utilises the site: command. The site command tells the search engine to only search the website at the web address immediately after the command, in this case au.linkedin.com. Note the au in front of linkedin.com, this targets Australian profiles. Next we have the group name, in speech marks, which tells the search engine to search for it as a phrase. Lastly I have added -dir. The – stands for NOT, so we are telling the search engine not to include results with the word dir in them. I have added this because Linkedin has a directory of all profiles, and the word dir appears in the web address of that page, saying -dir gets rid of those results and saves us from sorting through the clutter. What we are left with are Australian Linkedin profiles, of people who belong to the “International Register of Certificated Auditors (IRCA)” group.
How is this useful? Well, Linkedin is great, but the profiles are built by people, and people talk about themselves and their skills in different ways, so the key words you have identified may not appear on some profiles. Also, many profiles have very little information, so by looking at what groups people are part of we know they have at least an interest in that area and warrant further research, either on the internet or over the phone.
So that’s one way to utilise the Groups functionality on Linkedin. We will cover more in future posts, but for now, experiment with this search and if you have any questions feel free to ask in the comments below.