I’ve heard from a few people lately that they are tiring of LinkedIn groups. Too “spammy” they say. Not enough engagement and opportunity to talk to people in an authentic way.
Sometimes it’s hard to tell the good from the bad.
Some LinkedIn groups look like a “must join” group due to their size, location in the search results, and apparent relevance to you or your career.
But there’s work to be done. And it starts the moment you join the group and start looking around. But what do you look for (or look to avoid) to see if a group is worth your time?
Here are five symptoms of a lousy LinkedIn group – one that perhaps had promise in the beginning and has lost its way. Or never had a way to begin with…
1. A disengaged or wrongly-focused group manager
I’ve been running my Tim’s Strategy LinkedIn group since October 2008. We have 3,300 members and remain, as always, a closed group (as voted by the group). I worked really hard early on to create engagement, to force true discussions (vs. just self promotion) and to make sure that there is balance among the content providers (blog posts, etc). At times it has been hard to keep up and to personally welcome new members who introduce themselves. And I haven’t always stayed true to my goals re: engagement when weeks got busy. But I take pride in the group not being a home for spammers. I approve about half the discussions each week because I know that the rest are simply advertisements for webinars, resume writing services, etc.
Here’s the problem – a lot of group managers don’t do any managing at all. The groups are either left to the LIONS (no offense) or are used as a place to amass a big, generic network of people. People who add the group to their profile to max out at 50. People with no intention of ever stepping in and saying hello. Or offering a hand.
2. The group is full of seagulls and vultures
Seagulls are people who join the group, fly over once a week (or more often), drop excrement and fly away. They simply use the group membership as a breeding ground for traffic to their own sites (or the sites of others) and never engage. Strong group managers (see above) are paying attention to the seagulls. They warn them (initially with a smile) re: their practice. And if they don’t start engaging, they ask them to leave the group. This may sound harsh, but like many other group owners, I tire of constantly having to show people the right way to use and engage in a LinkedIn group. So if they don’t comply, it’s OK to show them the door.
Vultures are those who look for people asking questions in the group and pitch them a service or a product without even a first date. There’s a proper way to market your services in a LinkedIn group. In my group, it involves helping first. Offering advice with no strings attached. And letting the receiver decide whether your advice is worth paying for. Another vulture move is to find the most popular discussion and bomb it with promotional messages. This is just bad behavior.
So when you join a new group, look for true engagement, discussions with a good history and a lack of self-serving promos.
3. The group is too big
This one may seem counter-intuitive. Isn’t bigger better and can’t I meet a lot more people via my group affiliation by being in really big groups? For me, big is bad. Even with the invention of sub-groups, there are still too many people to choose from. And the group becomes hard to manage.
So what’s too big? Well, I guess it depends on the group’s focus, the industry or function it serves and the impact of points one and two above. For some groups, “too big” might be 10,000. For others, 1,000 may be too big if no one is paying attention.
So look to join fewer groups. To get a feel for them and truly engage to see if there is a good fit. And then maybe you can add a few more. If you are a member of 50 groups today, here’s my advice: drop 25 of them. You aren’t involved anyway and it will ease your email burden.
Of the 25 you have left, pick the 5 most relevant and best groups (using the criteria above) and do one thing: engage. Ask a question, participate in a poll, respond to the question of someone else with a helpful answer.
Are you a member of the Tim’s Strategy LinkedIn group? Join today.
But whatever you do … do something. Preferably something positive and productive.
Don’t be lazy on LinkedIn.
What do you think? What makes for a lousy LinkedIn group?
Written by: Tim Tyrell-Smith
Tags: career networking | community websites | friendship | great source | groups | helpful advice | Job Search | leads | LinkedIn | linkedin groups | linkedin open networker | new friendship | offering advice | online social networking | social information processing | sources of lead | symptoms | using social media | web 2.0
Categories: Learning And Using Social Media