Thoughts on LinkedIn group membership

A few years ago, I setup and started managing a group on LinkedIn for employees at my current company. The company name was new because it was created after a large acquisition and merger. So in the description field of the group I stated the begin date of the new company as the employment date for group membership. Any current or former employee that was employed on or after the start date is eligible membership in the group.

Throughout the course of the last few years I’ve had a few people request membership that did not fit the stated parameters. This is typically someone that worked for the legacy companies prior to the combined company start date. In this situation, I decline membership but tell them that a group exists for former employees of each legacy company.

That worked well until a few weeks ago when a former consultant for the company applied for membership. I denied the request because this applicant was not an employee as stated in the group description. He took offense to this stating that he had worked with current employees and was paid by the company. So based on his response, I posed a group discussion question asking if the group members wanted to expand the group definition to include contractors and consultants of the company. 100% of the responses indicated they did not want to do this.

Which got me thinking. How is a LinkedIn group membership beneficial?

  1. Contacts. LinkedIn is all about contacts. The group membership becomes a place where  you can find people you may be looking for to make a direct connection. It’s also a place to find people that share your interests or backgrounds based on the group association.
  2. The badge. The logo-badge that shows on your profile makes it easy for someone to scan your profile to see your group affinities and memberships.
  3. Discussions. The discussion board inside a group is a great place to discuss ideas or pose questions to other members within your group association.
  4. Job board. Some groups actively use their job boards to post positions related to the group association.

Making use of the benefits.

I’ve used my memberships for the contacts, badge, and discussions thus far. It’s a useful place for me to post discussion questions or announcements for get-together networking events. I’ll admit, I don’t view group updates on any regular or defined schedule (like email, twitter, RSS). Yet, I do see the benefit and will certainly continue to use the groups in the future.