LinkedIn Groups 101: Design *BEFORE* Sending Invitations

CautionTonight, an invitation to a LinkedIn group set me ablaze.

I came across a tweet inviting all to join a new LinkedIn group about positivity and inspiration. I can always go for some of that so I clicked the link and there I was. No discussions, no content, no group rules, nothing. I took one more step and clicked on the Members tab to see that I was, indeed, the only member other than the group owner. I left the group and I probably won’t return. It seems everyone who thinks (s)he has a good idea also believes (s)he can just create a group, invite people and it will flourish. That’s just not how it works.

How do I know? I created the LinkedIn group Collaborative Women Connect (CWC). At the time I was only familiar with about 15 members from groups I belonged to. I invited those members and they invited others and before we knew it, we were hitting hundreds and hundreds of members. Even more importantly, we were proud to boast zero spam and were later invited by LinkedIn to participate in the beta group that helped shape the new design we’re all accustomed to now. I was invited to co-manage several groups that wanted the same growth and collaboration between members. So consider these tips as I’m not merely suggesting them; I’ve used them and they work.

Consider your group a small business. You need to decide what your angle is, what you’re selling, what your group’s focus will be.

Design your large and small icons. That’s the first thing prospective members will see, so either create or find an image that represents your group well.

Outline your group rules. While you will want to post them within the group, include them in the automated welcome message template, too.

Get some content in your group. Give your new members an example of the content you want to share with your group. I always start a group with a welcome message, a few posts and a couple of subgroups before pulling back the curtains.

Be specific about how you want discussions to be used. I read every single discussion in full and if it wasn’t genuinely geared toward generating conversation among members, it was deleted. Period. Overall it was best for the group because our discussions regularly had 75+ comments. Really.

If you need one, find yourself a good co-manager or two. A popular group will grow quickly and unless you keep an eye on content and comments, you’ll find yourself managing a spam farm. Co-managers can assist by creating weekly announcements, checking flagged content and/or booting problematic posters.

Once you’ve got your group all set and members are joining, keep your content fresh by culling discussions with minimal comments. For CWC we decided discussions with less than 5 comments after a month would be deleted. This is good for your group. First, when new members join, they aren’t left to dig through old posts that generated no interest. Secondly, all members get to see what subjects work and don’t and can follow suit to keep the conversations going.

As I’m sure you can imagine, there’s a lot more to it than this, but that’s a good start. Don’t just name a group and send out a tweet hoping we’ll all rush in. The same way you prepare for a party by decorating, putting out the punch and popping in a Sade CD to set the mood, do the prep work for your group just the same way. Whether you have a business, a hobby or no particular goal in sight yet, everything you do publicly becomes your brand. Do this well and new opportunities may avail themselves to you.

Questions? Just ask!

I welcome your comments! No part of this article may be reproduced in any manner without permission and attribution.

  • Gaurav

    Hello Patricia. Thanks for the extremely informative article – I have a small group on LinkedIn that I hope will grow some day; the topic of the group is rather dry, and it is a challenge to get folks to join it – 🙁

    I tried looking up your group Collaborative Women Connect, and did finally find it – started on 03-Sep-2009 – but, surprisingly, it has only 1 member in it! Also, the other group you started 21-Sep-2010 (SoMe) also has just 1 member in it… Have you changed the name of the original group (CWC) to something else?

    • No. The group names didn’t change – they became very large and very popular and I couldn’t manage them single-handedly while working and living life. As I am sure you’ve found, managing a LinkedIn group is difficult to do *well* if you’re only involved a few days a week. Let me know if you need help with your group!

  • Hi, Yusra and congratulations on your internship. I know you want to make a great impression now, especially if you like the company and might want to be requested back. Nothing beats being in demand! Now onto business.

    You know on LinkedIn (and Facebook and anywhere social) we usually join more than one group with similar themes. For example, in my case, it might have been women business owners or New Jersey entrepreneurs. So whenever I was in other groups and found someone posting or commenting on content in a positive or thoughtful way, I’d regularly send them a private message inviting them to join my group. Ironically, I still have the exact wording of the message in Microsoft Outlook. This was it exactly:
    ~ ~ ~ ~
    I love this topic and I am sure it would receive great feedback in my group. I hope you will consider posting it as a discussion there. We are a very vocal group with ZERO spam and this would stimulate dialogue for certain.

    If you aren’t interested right now, the welcome mat is always out!

    ~ ~ ~ ~

    NOTE: That message, clearly, would be best sent to someone who actually POSTED the discussion, not someone who left a comment on someone else’s. But you can tweak the words as necessary. That was just my template.

    You figure it’s easier to get people already IN LinkedIn with whom you share a group to at least check out your group. They’re already there and rarely get such an invitation. No one does that! (But don’t sign off Cordially – that’s my thing. Use Sincerely. Ha!)

    Initially, a lot of the first members I got were *poached* from other groups and once they were happy they just started bringing other people with them. Seriously. Because you know how LinkedIn is. Very few people have back and forth dialogue at all. So some of the discussions were silly, spirited and all but they were being talked back to – and that’s what you don’t get much of. So that got the ball rolling. Once you have a handful of satisfied and engaged members the rest start rolling in.

    As far as the group that I was referring to, the sad thing is that once you get busy with a project or a business, if you do not have active, dedicated co-moderators your group can quickly lose structure. I’d rather have no group than a poor group so I sent out a goodbye to all the members and closed shop, so to speak.

    BUT the group does still exist. It’s just not published. I keep it for instances like this when someone needs ocular proof of the group rules, discussions that remained, etc.

    Yusra, I don’t want to post either of our email addresses here but if you’ll connect with me on LinkedIn, I’d be glad to invite you to the group so you can see the whole bit – the welcome message you receive, etc. If that would help you’re more than welcome. I’ve got a few other ideas as well but not knowing what kind of company you work for I have no idea if they would help or not. It would help to know what industry the company’s in, what they do.

  • Yusra

    Hi Patricia,

    I am currently working an internship in a small company, i’ve been asked to improve the Linkedin Group of the company. Yours is the blog that by far helped me understand the feel we must give out to help maintain a level of excitement among our followers.
    However, i have questions about how to proceed. The group already exists and has a few discussions (mostly amongst the co-workers in the office). From what i understand, i need to share the content of external people (relevant to the group of course) in order to invite them to participate. What best way would be to do so?

    And lastly, i tried to find your group and failed to find it. I was hoping to look for inspiration on the design and content. Is it still active?

    Thanks a lot,


  • Eric Heenan

    Thank you for kindly sharing your knowledge and personal story. Great idea to instantly delete the SPAM. It is both crazy and scary what people will put out there. Mahalo again, this was great info!

    • You are very welcome, Eric. Glad you dropped in and hope you’ll use some of those tips for your own LinkedIn group. Do you have a group? If so, shout it out here!

      • Eric Heenan

        I am planning to start one for Filipino Leaders (or Professionals) who are working in Japan. It has been a goal for some time and I thought we’d be up and running by year-end, but just as you recommend, I am far from prepared, so will not rush it. Thanks for the encouragement!

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  • Emma

    A great, easy to understand piece for people like me who are still very much learning the LinkedIn ropes. Also love the party prep analogy, it really helps to be able to think of it in such a relatable context.

    • Thank you, Emma! Glad you appreciated that analogy. I hoped people would get the point with that one!

  • I agree with you completely. I work in social media and some of our clients hire us to run their Linkedin campaigns. We wouldn’t DARE promote it unless it was complete and filled with relevant content. Once complete, we do use Twitter as a mechanism to get people into the group. Thanks for the article!

    • You’re welcome and thank you for your comment, Elizabeth. (Love how you put DARE in caps!!)

  • Wow, thanks Patricia!

    That was helpful 🙂


  • Shelley

    Thanks for the post! I’m just starting my Linkedin group and found it helpful.

    Can you explain the reasoning or strategy for creating subgroups?

    Also, based on your experience, do you have suggestions for group rules?

    • NVS

      Hey, Shelley! Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I sure do have some comments regarding group rules.

      For one, seriously, don’t be shy about your group rules being lengthy. I absolutely don’t bother with posting rules in the group at all. It almost makes no sense. Those that are there to really collaborate and dialogue with other professionals won’t need much hand-holding. By now, we all know how LinkedIn groups work and what we all like and don’t like. Those that are going to spam with promotional posts and never communicate otherwise, aren’t going to stop and read rules first. So mine are always in the group template.

      However, instead of sounding like a dictator, I try to make it fun, so that they expect a pleasurable experience. For instance, one of the lines in my group rules was, “Please introduce yourself in the post entitled [whatever your post is] and refrain from starting a discussion just to introduce yourself.” That one discussion post has over 700+ comments alone. In this way, members can scroll through and read about other members and possibly make connections through what they read. Many posted their hobbies and interests outside of their professions which I suggested. You’d be surprised how many conversations that start out about shared interests lead to business connections. My first client came from that LinkedIn group and at the time I’d started the group, I didn’t even own my own business. But she liked my personality and writing ability and I began blogging for some of her clients.

      Also, let your members know what you consider spam. For my group in particular, any discussions that started with, “What do you think of my website?” and just posted a link got deleted. Some would consider that harsh, but those were the rules and majority appreciated it.

      On the other hand, someone who was really looking for feedback regarding a site posted a link to her site and asked for constructive feedback, and told us exactly what she was working on (design, her picture, new graphics, fonts). That member was Georgia Feiste and it was amazing how we all chimed in and assisted. We got to see the changes by the hours as she was working and we were all glad to pitch in and help. That’s real collaboration. Georgia is on Twitter here

      I hope that helps for a start, but please, do ask if there’s anything else I can touch on. I love helping out this way.

  • Paul Castain

    I really enjoyed this post Patricia.

    As someone who also created a Linkedin group (sales playbook) I can appreciate every one of these points.

    This should be required reading prior to starting a group!

    Thank you!

    Paul Castain

  • George Christophe

    Dear Patricia,

    I should have said it is the nicest blog I have seen, barr none! I had said earlier I am more than a little intimidated by your credentials, however I try to always learn from people like you who are a great success!

    Thank you for those kind remarks about my book, it’s wonderful for a person like me to hear nice things, great for the ego! Thank you again!
    I will await your email!

    With great admiration,
    George C.

  • George Christophe

    Hi Patricia,

    I lost all the text I was writing, I mentioned in the previous text that I was pretty slow on the uptake when it comes to all this tech.I think this site is great and I asked earlier if this is a website or a blog? Can you say who built it and what would be the approximate cost if you care to say?

    I’m an older guy who is starting to write at an older age and sometimes I feel like I’m spinning my wheels.

    I have a book published, non-fiction and I have one in the works which is fiction. An accomplished person like yourself must get bombarded with tons of questions, I wouldn’t like to be a bother,but if there is anything you can help me with, I would certainly appreciate it. Thank you!

    Best Regards
    George Christophe
    PS the name of my book is;
    The Jokes On Us/ The innocent Mind you can read some of the text if you have a mind to!

    • NVS

      Sure I’ll answer you. My cat’s name is George and I’ve never met a George I didn’t like!

      First, I appreciate the kudos. I’ve designed the site myself and the blog came first, before the rest of the site. I started out using Google’s Blogspot which is free and very flexible. But over time, I wanted more freedom and control so I purchased a domain and created the blog here.

      I will email you privately with some ideas, however, I have to give you some kudos, too. I just read the feedback that’s been left on Amazon regarding your book. Even though it’s only two responses, they are two heartfelt and passionate endorsements so hopefully you are well on your way. Don’t forget we little people when you’re finally arrived! Wink, wink!

      Stand by for an email and thank you so much for the positive and flattering feedback.