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!

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