Once upon a time, LinkedIn groups were thriving communities of professionals who shared common business interests. There was simply no better place to go on the Internet for industry- related discussions and networking.

Then, seemingly out of nowhere, LinkedIn removed groups from the core features and banished them to a difficult-to-find back page on the site. Now, mostly abandoned by the users and group owners, they have become virtual ghost towns where only the most desperate spammers roam.

Last month, LinkedIn began notifying group owners by sending them a message announcing a renewed focus on groups by re-integrating them into the core user experience during 2018.

Groups will be accessible from the homepage on both desktop and mobile, and content shared in groups will begin appearing in the main news feed. 

The new groups on LinkedIn will feature improved communication tools including the ability to @mention other members in conversations. Whether group owners and admins will have expanded capabilities to monitor conversations remains to be seen.

Expanded content options in groups will also become available, including video.

I'm excited to see LinkedIn bring groups back to life on the site. In the past, I made some of the most valuable connections I've ever made in business from networking in LinkedIn groups. 

What I've found the key to networking within groups on LinkedIn and more recently on Facebook is to provide a ton of value to the discussions where other users are expressing pain points within their business. Doing so helps you come across as a solutions expert within your niche.

Build it and they will come?

LinkedIn is using the age-old tactic of bringing back a legacy product that was popular with customers and giving a sleek new look to try bring users back to the platform. Some of the experts I've talked to are saying that the ones who left LinkedIn's professional groups have found homes on other platforms like Facebook. 

I believe there are enough professionals out there who believe that using Facebook groups for networking is less than ideal.

If LinkedIn delivers on its promise of an enhanced user experience within groups, it will once again become the prominent place for targeted professional networking on social media.