Your LinkedIn Group: Creating Discussion Guidelines

By on April 19, 2011

Creating your first LinkedIn group can be a daunting challenge, so coming up with a ‘code of conduct’ or ‘discussion guidelines’ for each group is essential to effectively manage your discussion pages.

You’ll need to sit down and think about what you will and won’t allow in your group. Here are some important things to consider before drafting that policy document.

1. Brainstorm With Other People in Your Business

To get a complete version of the vision you’d like to instill in your new discussion group, sit down with a few colleagues or your social media manager, and brainstorm. Begin by coming up with a succinct and clear ‘mission’ for your group.

Define its purpose, and everything that it entails. Once you’ve done that, you’ll be able to pick apart the things you don’t want in your discussion group, and list them neatly in your discussion guidelines document.

2. Open a Featured Discussion and Post Your Guidelines

When you have a rough draft of your group preferences, post them on your LinkedIn page as a featured discussion. Encourage your group members to read the guidelines and add to them if they come up with related ideas.

Your goal is get people to read and contribute to this document. As time progresses, you’ll uncover more and more things you didn’t initially think about, for your discussion guidelines. When this happens, your featured post is ready and waiting for your additions.

3. Practice What You Preach

When you appoint a group manager, it’s their job to follow each and every rule you’ve posted in the featured discussion section. It will act as a practical example for your group members, and will help them stick to your guidelines as much as possible. If your group manager goes around breaking your own rules, don’t expect your community to follow the rules either!

4. Don’t Forget to Get Technical

While its very useful adding moral and general guidelines, you’ll also need to think about the presentation and technical aspects of the discussions in your group. Will you allow links in the headlines of your posts?

Can people advertise their business services in a discussion? Do you allow people to post discussions encouraging random connections from strangers? These are considerations that need to be addressed.

5. Your Banned Member Policy

Last but not least, don’t forget to draft part of your policy guidelines that clearly states why and how someone can be removed as a member. You’ll come across new and interesting reasons why you’ll want to kick someone off your discussion board, so make sure you amend this regularly.

There’s nothing worse than not being able to explain why you’ve banned someone from your group. Openly displaying these rules will prevent that from happening.

Work on an average length of about 1000 words, depending on your industry. Before you post them, get someone to review it to ensure that all of your guidelines are clear. Attract quality LinkedIn connections by posting your discussion guidelines, but remember to be lenient – people make mistakes too!

What 1 guideline is an absolute must-have on LinkedIn? Tell us about yours!

About John Souza

John Souza is founder and chief strategist of SMMU and Social Media Impact, and is a bestselling business author. He won the 2011 Tech Marketing Awards ‘Social Media Marketer of the Year’ and most recently the About.com Reader’s Choice Award for Best Online Education Site. John has appeared on The Michael Gerber Show, and his business has been honored at the Mashable Awards, Forbes Business Awards and The Stevie Awards.
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