Elizabeth Keserauskis

Building relationships and making connections

LinkedIn Group Management and Membership

I am debating myself: to restrict membership or allow anyone to join; to require verification if a restriction is in place or just trust.

The context is primarily within LinkedIn groups. I can understand restricting group membership for associations who provide member-only access to content. And to become a member of the association, one must pay dues. The old adage “why buy the cow if the milk is free” certainly applies.

In the case of an institution of higher education, affiliation with the university can take shape many ways:

  • Current student
  • Alumnus
  • Parent
  • Current employees
  • Past employees
  • Took a few courses or continuing education courses
  • And more I’m sure

Do you allow anyone to join the group? Do you ask that they at least express their affiliation with the university on their LinkedIn profile? How do you verify accuracy? Do we even care about accuracy?

Accuracy would be important to the groups providing content as a membership benefit. An interesting side note—I recently requested to join the LinkedIn group for a membership-driven association. I just received a “no thank you” message indicating the group is restricted to association members only. Hmmmm… guess I’ll have to waste some time trying to demonstrate my membership IF I find the content valuable. I likely will waste that time, given my current debate!

Is accuracy really important if you are just trying to build a community and ultimately discussion around a common theme? Verification of the accuracy becomes not as important as asking the members to identify their affiliation to the group or how they fit in with the common theme. It is important to separate what qualifies you to join the group from what you are hoping to accomplish with the group (or hoping DOESN’T happen).

Ground rules (house rules, group expectations, etc.) will help keep the group focused on the common theme and not abuse the privilege of membership. Nearly all of us have experienced the abuse of the communication tools with the group members by that one or two people who spam the list selling their products or services. Reserving the right to delete content and restrict privileges is critical, and must be made clear to the members.

And to those who keep spamming the members with sales pitches—go read up on the importance of engagement and conversation in a community. And there are still only two letters difference between helping and selling.

I’d love to see examples of “ground rules” in groups, and feedback on whether you require members to display their affiliation on their profile before accepting the request to join.

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January 3, 2012 - Posted by | connecting, engaging, social media | , , ,

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