How many online groups do you belong to?
How many online groups do you belong to? 10, 15, 100? They are so popular these days (thanks to Facebook and LinkedIn) and there’s definitely a group for everyone but how on earth can you get the most from them?
I’ll hold my hands up. I belong to too many online groups. I cannot possibly keep up with what’s going on in them all and really, I might as well not be in about half of them. If I was the Group Admin, I’d probably like me to leave because I’m not bringing much to the party! But, it’s hard… when I try to have a cull, I find myself suffering from ‘fomo’ (Fear Of Missing Out!) so in I stay.
If it was an offline group, you know, a real-life group where I had to actually show up, this behaviour would be unacceptable and I’d be quite unpopular! Hanging about, not saying anything, just lurking. It’s not a pleasant way to carry on, is it?
However, there are some online groups where I do engage and guess what? I get more out of them. (No sh1t Sherlock!) Yep, online just as in real-life, we get out what we put in. Let me share what that looks like.
In the online groups where I get truly involved or ‘engaged’ as the jargon goes, this is what I do:
1. Read and abide by the group rules.
The rules for an online group are usually stated in the Group Description, Announcement or in a Pinned Post at the top of the discussion page. I read them and understand what’s expected of me. Then, quite simply, I behave accordingly and try to add value where I can.
2. Remember to visit regularly
I try to visit my online groups on a regular basis; sometimes daily, mostly weekly. I make this easy by creating a shortcut to the group if it’s a facebook group. That’s not so easy on LinkedIn so I make a diary note about visiting my LinkedIn Groups. (Access Groups by clicking the ‘Work’ option in the top right of your LinkedIn homepage.) I also tick the box so that I receive Notifications.
3. Read other members’ posts
I read the other members’ posts to see what I can learn and how I can help. This is akin to listening to other people in an offline group. You wouldn’t rock up to a networking event, shout about yourself and then leave, would you? Of course not, you’re far too polite. You’d listen to other people and engage in conversation. That’s all you need to do in your online groups too.
4. Hit Like if I agree with what I read
Hitting LIKE is an online version of a nod. This is something I do in online groups to encourage and appreciate the writer of the post. I may also make a comment if I feel it’s particularly brilliant or if I have something to add.
5. Avoid arguments!
If I don’t agree with something, my preference is to maintain a dignified silence (just as I would in real life.) I don’t start or join in with arguments; I just don’t need that kind of negativity in my life!
6. Remember that some people just like to be provocative
Some people like to be provocative in online groups. They may be a ‘keyboard warrior’ (braver online than they would ever be in real life) but it may just be that they have a dry sense of humour that doesn’t always come across online as it might in person. Before reacting, it’s a good idea to give them the benefit of the doubt.
7. Ask questions in online groups
If I don’t know something, of course, I’ll Google it or look it up on YouTube but if I want an opinion about something or some advice, I’ll ask in the appropriate online group. It’s so much nicer to get an opinion or recommendation from someone you ‘know’ than to rely on the reviews of strangers.
8. Share information and relevant articles
I share information and relevant articles that I hope will benefit the other members of my online groups. For example, if I see something about working freelance or coworking, I’ll share that in the Laptop Friday facebook group. Articles or news about careers, work/life balance and going self-employed are going to be relevant to the members of Your Dream Job Networking Group on LinkedIn.
9. Promote my business
I will post in an online group to promote my business sometimes but only when it’s allowed and appropriate. Some groups are specifically for that purpose, others are not and will take a dim view of this behaviour!
10. Keep my private life private and offline
I am fortunate to have some great friends and family to whom I can turn when stuff happens. I choose to deal with that offline, in private. For me, my online presence is largely professional and I want you to feel better having read something that I’ve written.
Online groups can be brilliant for all kinds of reasons. I’d love to know what your favourite groups are and why. Perhaps you’d like to share them in the comments below?
Here are a few of my favourite online groups:
- Your Dream Job Networking Group on LinkedIn.
- Laptop Friday on Facebook.
- The Business Network Hub on Facebook.*
(* TBNH is much more than just a facebook group – there is a business directory attached. There is a small cost to join – just £35pa but it’s well worth it and some of the money goes to charity too!)
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Copyright: Louise Jenner, 2020.
This post was published originally in 2017 and has been updated for the new decade.