Sample rules for a LinkedIn Group

LinkedIn logo pen (photo by Sheila Scarborough)LinkedIn Groups could be a lot more valuable to their members if there weren’t so many jerks – or genuinely clueless people – showing up who only drop links to their own blog posts, or promote their own webinars.

Call me crazy, but….

There should be discussions in the Discussions.

What is the answer to this problem?

Clear rules and self-policing, before your Group members leave in disgust.

Make Rules Crystal-Clear

I recently gained Manager access to a Group for a professional organization – the Association for Women in Communications – and these are the Rules (or guidelines or whatever you wish to call them) that I’ve created and posted.  I also sent out a Group Announcement email with them, as well.

They’re in plain English; feel free to tailor them to your own Group as needed.

“This is a professional development and discussion group for the AWC (Association for Women in Communications.) You do not have to be an AWC member, or a woman, to participate.

The rules are: be nice. Bring value to the discussions. Be helpful. Encourage one another. Highlight trends. Share case studies and resources.

If all you do is show up and drop links to your own webinars, blog posts or job info, expect to have your items flagged “Promotion” or “Jobs.” ANY Group member can flag items, and should feel free to do so. Self-policing is the most effective way to keep spammers at bay.

Keep self-promoting, and you’ll get a private warning from the Group Manager (currently the AWC HQ staff in Alexandria, VA and Sheila Scarborough, member of the AWC National Board of Directors.)

Keep doing it after a warning, and we’ll block you from the Group.

Obviously, if you roll in here with abusive, sexist, racist or otherwise obnoxious language, you’ll get blocked as well.

We’re professional communicators from around the world. Let’s make this Group worthy of our abilities. Questions? Email or Sheila at   Thanks.”

Hat tip to Liz Strauss for the “be nice” rule – it’s worked well for years on her Successful Blog.

Anyone can “Flag as Promotion” or “Flag as Job”

In most Groups, anyone – not just the Group Manager – can flag a post as “Promotion,” “Job” (either looking for one or announcing one) or “Inappropriate.”

Make sure you enlist the support of all Group members in moving the above items out of Discussions and to the sections where they belong.

Promotion is fine….in the Promotions section.

Job-hunting is fine….in the Jobs section.

Reaction to the Guidelines

Within 30 minutes of posting clear rules and emailing all Group members about them, this arrived:

“THANK YOU!  I  quickly stopped reading the group and stopped notifications because of all the spam. I did not leave because I hoped it would be redeeming itself in the future.  THANK YOU for putting up guidelines.”

Also, this question:

“What about posting notices of purely social networking events? I’m the president of [redacted professional org, not AWC] and from March to October, we hold “Dutch treat” casual get-togethers for people in the Chicago area. No speakers, no recruitment, no business pitches, just an excuse to go out for drinks and appetizers with others in the profession.”

My response was that such announcements still need to go into Promotions, particularly for a non-AWC organization in a city where we don’t have a chapter (yet.) I told the sender that my number one priority right now is fostering discussions, not announcements, however “nice to know” they might be.

Sometimes, you’ve gotta be the hardass. It’s usually worth it.

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12 Responses to Sample rules for a LinkedIn Group

  1. Andy Hayes says:

    Great post Sheila – thanks for the sample rules, I’ve shared these with some admins of my usual hangouts. Unfortunately I’ve noticed a massive drop off in engagement with LinkedIn over the past 12-18 months. I’m not sure if people are just migrating off to other platforms, just overwhelm, or the increase in off topic spam. Unfortunately, I’m at fault too – don’t spend as much time there, since I spend 15 minutes marking items as spam (and by spam, I don’t mean unintentionally spammy posts but totally crap, v*agara and p0rn spam, etc.)

    On occasion I do promote some of my longer, non self-promotional blog posts for the conversation aspects, and used to enjoy the convo, but now, it’s crickets in many of my old favorite handouts. It’s a shame, I don’t know how to fix it since most moderators won’t step up with clarity and ownership like you have.

    Andy Hayes´s last [post] ..8 Common Mistakes Made When Organizing your Website Menu

    • Sheila says:

      You know I’m all about the “clarity and ownership” thing, Andy. Honestly, I think it helps to have some experience as a blogger. You develop a thick skin, and you know how to whack trolls and keep the Comments cats herded. I doubt a lot of LinkedIn Group managers have that background.

  2. Brian says:

    My experience with these linkedin groups has been its always either shameless self promotion (“buy my book”) or looking for a job….good article tho, wish all my group admins would follow.

  3. Sheila says:

    Thanks, Brian, appreciate it!

  4. Matt Brennan says:

    Thanks for sharing these. It’s amazing how rude some people can become on LinkedIn. It’s such a great platform, but I’ve seen people be incredibly rude, and people who can’t post without suggesting that you buy their eBook for 9.95. It’s common sense people!!! Thanks for fighting the battle.

  5. Sheila says:

    Agree, Matt. Group managers have got to either pay more attention, or “grow a pair,” or both.

  6. Harry Lew says:

    Hi, Sheila,

    Thank you for this! You’re right on the money. So much so that I was wondering if I could steal, I mean, “adapt” your policy for the Insurance and Financial Communicators Association LI Group. We suffer from the same abuses you mention and would love to get the cats herded, as it were.

    Thanks again!

    Harry Lew

  7. Sheila says:

    Sure, Harry, adapt away! 🙂

  8. adam says:

    thanks for these. much appreciated.

  9. Gnanaguru says:

    Great post. Much useful for our group in LinkedIn.

    Thank you.


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