LinkedIn Groups is a feature of the popular business professional social network that creates a community around a common interest for its members. Groups have grown immensely popular and have provided a forum for LinkedIn members to interact, share ideas and demonstrate thought leadership on various subjects. Like many social networks and forums, there is the potential to misuse the platform in ways it was not intended, such as to pitch products that are unrelated to the topic at hand.
Whether you participate in LinkedIn Groups as a member or administer a Group of your own, there are some general rules of etiquette to follow to make the experience for all who participate (whether they actively comment to discussions or just read posts) a pleasurable one:
- If you join a Group, make sure it is a good fit. Don't join one just for the sake of joining one. If you can add to the discussion and contribute in a meaningful fashion, by all means join. Some Groups require membership approval by an administrator while others automatically register you.
- Ask yourself if the discussion post you have added to the Group you recently joined adds value. Is it keeping with the theme and intention of the Group overall?
- How frequent are you posting discussions to the Group? Sometimes, discussion questions need to "marinate" and settle to allow for people to reflect and build momentum toward an active discussion. If you are a participant in a Group posting frequent discussion questions, perhaps you should start your own Group? Too many discussion questions dominates the Group.
- Observe the rules of etiquette as you would online or offline in the LinkedIn Group environment. Be respectful and courteous. Don't "flame" others if you disagree with their point of view.
- No sales pitches - ever! The best self-promotion in a LinkedIn Groups is simply contributing and being helpful to others. Share your knowledge and expertise. Add value to the discussion. The LinkedIn environment allows others to find out more about you through your Profile. If they think you could be of service to them outside of the Group, they will reach out to you.
Remember, the LinkedIn Group community is a forum to lend support, answer questions and provide guidance to others. Any form of marketing in a Group is generally frowned upon, so if you want to stay relevant in a Group observe the rules of etiquette I've outlined here. If you contribute in a meaningful and respectful manner others will see the value in what you have to offer and perhaps view you as an authority in your respective field.