Use your LinkedIn group to build a tribe, not your ego

It's a LinkedIn group not the Augusta National Golf Club

Groups, and the networking opportunity they provide, should be one of the most valuable features of LinkedIn. But to be so, many group administrators need to relinquish control, or make member service a higher priority.

One of my most popular blogs is a tongue-in-cheek analysis of LinkedIn personality profiles. Taking inspiration from the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, I submit there are 16 personality profiles on LinkedIn.

I christened one of those personality profiles The COADD.

In urban terms, COADDs suffer from ‘Centre of Attention Deficit Disorder’. On LinkedIn, they satisfy their constant need to be noticed and acknowledged by creating interest groups and then holding court as group administrators. COADDs feed off the power that comes from being able to accept or reject group members. If you try to make friends with one, she’ll think you’re pathetic.

Groups are (or should be) one of the most valuable features of LinkedIn. In a world that’s getting noisier, groups can be places where people can congregate and have shared experiences. They’re a way to connect people – and to connect with people – who are like-minded, or who share an interest, discipline, industry or role. In other words, a place to build a tribe.

“One-thousand fans who love you are worth more than one-million who kind of like you. You throw the party and then let people form relationships with each other. That equity will come back to you, and your tribe will rely on you for connecting them” espouses Shaan Puri.

Granted, Puri was at the time speaking about his platform Blab but the same principles apply to LinkedIn groups (or Slack or Twitter or Facebook, for that matter).

A LinkedIn group can be a home for your tribe to go to talk to each other – even when you’re not there.

I respect that some LinkedIn group administrators might need to screen members to protect the integrity of a group. Or to moderate discussions to keep those pesky vendors at bay.

For many others, the time it will take to screen members or moderate threads will far outweigh any real benefit.

It’s a LinkedIn Group, not the Augusta National Golf Club.

We’re living in a society defined by immediate gratification. To be of value to members, group administrators should take a long-term view, and think of themselves as service providers, of sorts. That extends to efficiently approving membership requests, efficiently releasing (or not) conversations. Or, better still, letting the group moderate its own activities.

If, as a group administrator, you’re slow to respond to requests, are slow to approve updates, or are unnecessarily controlling, your members will abandon you. Just as they will any other service provider.

Here’s a real life example:

Among other things, I’m a freelance writer. Recently I was doing some research for a deadline-driven piece of content on the topic of Client Relationship Management systems. I wanted technical input; to draw on subject matter expertise. So I searched, and attempted to join, a couple of relevant LinkedIn groups with a view to posting a callout to members.

I received two automated responses.

The first:

Thank you for requesting to join the CRM Specialist Network Group. Please note that it may take up to five business days to approve your request. As a reminder, the CRM Specialist Network Group is a highly moderated forum with discussions limited to those with a CRM focus…

I can’t think of any business that would get away with a five-day response rate. I withdrew my request.

The second:

Welcome to CRM Experts Group. Your membership request will be evaluated very soon. Please be patient!  Thanks.

Here you have your first benefit from our group: [CRM Buyer’s Guide] Checkpoints and best practices in choosing CRM…

This group immediately delivered value, even before my membership was accepted. Overnight my request to join was approved and I’ve now posted a call-out to group members to share their expertise. Group members are responding – some offering useful advice; others less so. But the point is there’s engagement, interaction, networking and the sharing of ideas. That’s LinkedIn group best practice. And the makings of a tribe.