I recently wrote about Linked Lurkers and how we need to engage with and contribute to communities to avoid being seen as a lurker. Discussions with @dougshaw1 and others revealed that many of us have mixed experiences of LinkedIn especially LinkedIn Groups. I have quite strong feelings on the subject so thought I’d share them with you!
LinkedIn is often compared to a business conference or even a professional networking event. Overall I don’t disagree, but in Discussion Groups I’ve experienced a real division in quality which you’d be unlikely to experience in the real world.
For me these are best described as The Good, The Bad & The Ugly:
In essence communities of practice that provide support, share information and offer perspectives and learning. Often smaller in size, the experience is one of quality not quantity. In these groups not only do you find value in much of the discussion content, you find members of the group becoming part of your professional network, friends even.
The Group purpose might seem appealing but in fact it's very hard to find what attracted you in the first place. Either through scale or poor management you spend a lot of time looking for something useful. Where the membership is in the thousands, the combination of self promotion and irrelevance becomes an almost toxic mix. There may be some nuggets in there but if this was a conference you would have walked out by now.
Discussion is absent & self promotion rules. Any discussions are used as a platform for members to promote their position. Self promotion and even shouting matches are par for the course. If you are looking for a supplier of services then there are plenty here but would you really go to a demented hawkers market to procure expertise for your organisation?
I’ve been actively using LinkedIn since 2004 when it had a little over 1million members. Now 7 years later it has 120m members. To my mind the above 3 types of Discussion Group have always existed. Maybe each serves it’s purpose. For me I’m only interested in The Good where community matters and good things come from good behaviours. When I feel a Group becomes irrelevant, too large or full of spam & self-promotion I leave.
What do you think? What are your experiences?