Join as many as you are allowed. Right now, that number is 50. You don’t have to be active in all of those groups, but you should definitely belong to them. Since LinkedIn search is biased by how you’re connected to someone, sharing a group membership is a great way to get an in with someone you don’t otherwise know.
For example, I found out about a group of guys who are launching a new hotel brand that I’m really interested in. I researched each of the key players on LinkedIn; made a list of groups that they’re in; and then joined a few of those groups. When I’m ready to pitch them my ideas, I’ll have an easy way to connect.
Carefully set your email notifications. If you are in 50 LinkedIn groups, you will get bombarded with email updates if you don’t pay attention to how you set up the notifications. You can choose from:
- An email for every discussion. Unless you are super-bored and love to get email spam, never choose this one!
- A daily digest of group activities. I pick this one only for the groups in which I am most active and interested. Also, when I join a new group, I select this one until I get the lay of the land and understand what the group is all about.
- A weekly digest of group activities. Most of my active groups are set to this. I get one email a week that recaps the discussions, job postings, etc. from the group.
- No emails at all. This is the setting I use for 75% of the groups I belong to. Notice I said “active” groups above; I am not active in 50 groups, not by a long shot! I am a member of several groups that I never interact with; these groups just open up more connections for me. For example, my alumni group is far too large to ever allow for meaningful discussion, but it does give me access to thousands of people that I wouldn’t ordinarily be able to reach. I am a member of this group, but I am not active in it.
Be patient about spam. I never thought I’d hear myself say that! But it really is true within LinkedIn groups. Even the most beneficial and interesting groups have spammers that post from time to time, so don’t let the existence of occasional spam posts discourage you from joining or participating.
Have a point of view. Don’t just “me too” every discussion, and don’t be afraid to – respectfully – disagree. Some of my most rewarding and interesting discussions – and subsequent connections – have come from disagreeing with a post. And don’t just jump in to agree. If the topic is a hot one (like charging for wifi in hotels, for instance), many, many people will be reading what you have to say, so have something to say besides “me too!”
Private message the people you’d like to connect with. If you really like what someone has posted in a group discussion, don’t be afraid to privately comment. This is a good way to establish a connection and make the “I agree” point without driving everyone in the conversation up the wall.