LinkedIn Groups and Networking: Some People Don’t Get It

by Meg Guiseppi on May 30, 2012

LinkedIn Groups are a good thing, especially for executive job seekers.

Groups help you uncover new networking opportunities, reconnect with your neglected network, demonstrate your subject matter expertise, connect with people at your target companies, and potentially land your next job or business opportunity.

But you know how it goes. Somebody (or some people) always come along and spoil it for the rest of us.

In LinkedIn Groups, those people are the self-promotional predators. The ones who blatantly and repetitively push their products, themselves and their services, instead of truly contributing. They’ve decided, or read somewhere, that this is the main purpose of Groups.

They seem to be unaware that their activities are likely damaging their brands. And they miss the point when it comes to networking. As much as they see Groups as an easy way to broadcast the value they offer to their target audience, they’re forgetting the golden rule of networking – “Give to get”. They jump right to the “do me a favor” part – buy my products or services. That comes later in networking, if at all.

I see this self-promotion problem taking its toll with many LinkedIn Groups.

I manage the Personal Branding LinkedIn Group for Job-Hunt.org, and co-manage the main Job-Hunt Group. The latter is a fairly large Group, with plenty of activity. Too many people post inappropriate information in the “Discussions” area, instead of in “Promotions” or “Jobs” or elsewhere, where they belong.

Sometimes a fine line is crossed. I have no problem with bloggers contributing their relevant posts as discussions. Many career and job search professionals are excellent writers, offering free and invaluable advice on their blogs.

But I have a hard time with those professionals whose so-called discussions are actually outright promotional materials. And job seekers who repetitively post their own career marketing materials are pushing it too far.

Some people are sneaky. There are those who post legitimate discussions about 75% of the time, but every week or so, they’ll slip in their self-promotional materials.

I realize that some members, especially new ones, may not know how Groups work yet, but there are plenty of repeat offenders and plenty of people whose posts are set up automatically, to all their Groups.

Of course, Group managers can choose to move these discussions to their appropriate place, or delete them, or reply to these people privately. And we can slide those offenders into the moderation queue, so that none of their discussions are posted without being moderated and okayed. But with a large, ever-growing Group, keeping up with moderating and weeding out the no-goodniks becomes a big job.

As managers, we do the best we can to keep up, knowing that those who slip through may undermine the integrity of the Group. And it all becomes so annoying to members who appreciate the value of Groups and want to see helpful contributions and discussions.

Members are also able to flag a discussion as promotion, job or inappropriate. But I see this as a major problem in itself. Members may have selfish motives for flagging someone else’s discussions. Or their motives may not be aligned with the focus or rules of the Group. I feel the moving option should remain in the hands of Group managers only.

It’s a dilemma and a shame for those of us who appreciate LinkedIn Groups as an opportunity to learn and share.

Related posts:

Best LinkedIn Tips: Find LinkedIn Groups to Join

LinkedIn Guide for Executive Branding and Job Search

29 Biggest LinkedIn Mistakes

photo by WebWizzard

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