An Open Letter to LinkedIn Discussion Group Moderators

For those of you tuning in for your (somewhat) regular fix on emergency management and homeland security commentary, I apologize for this quick detour.  I encourage you, however, to read on and provide your thoughts and feedback on a matter which relates to how you are able to view my posts.  There are a few inconvenient practices out there which I feel a need to address.

While I have a humbling and ever growing number of people who follow my blog directly at www.triecker.wordpress.com, many read my posts through a variety of LinkedIn discussion groups.  Some of these groups were created and simply exist publicly, while others are members-only and diligently maintained by moderators who do great work to keep certain posts out of their group, such as those that are largely irrelevant and those which blatantly serve no other purpose than to market products and services.  As a member of several of these discussion groups, I am greatly appreciative of the time and effort these moderators put in.  I do, however, have some important feedback.

As I have been blogging for a few years now and cross posting to several LinkedIn discussion groups, I’ve encountered some practices with moderators with which I disagree.  Most recently, a discussion thread which originated from one of my blog posts was, inexplicably, shut down and closed to further comment.  The discussion in the thread was lively, with several people contributing to an excellent dialogue.  There didn’t appear to be any nastiness or inappropriate behavior, and all comments were on topic.  The thread was shut down with no notice, publicly or privately.  I’m not aware of there being any automatic limits on replies, but if there are, I don’t see a reason why.  This was an unfortunate occurrence which limited productive dialogue of your members.

Second, there are several of these groups that have an anti-spam feature.  On the surface, this is excellent!  In practice, especially for someone who appreciates active dialogue with those who comment, it’s a royal pain in the ass.  Essentially, after I reach some magic number of replies within a discussion thread, my replies will then go off into the ether, awaiting approval by the moderators before they are posted.  This process severely stalls great dialogue.

Lastly, many of these groups have certain rules which disallow posts which include blatant marketing content.  This is a great rule, as many of us have received notice from open groups with posts which are 100% pure marketing – which is not a reason why most people join these groups.  That said, these rules have been applied a bit too strictly and without common sense.  I’ve had moderators contact me (and some who don’t), refusing to post an article, simply because I include the name of my company and a link to our webpage at the bottom of my blog.  I’ve had others refuse to post an article because I include a sentence or two at the end of my blog about the services my company provides.  Allow me to make a few points with this… 1) The vast majority of my blogs run from 500-800 words.  The inclusion of my company name/web address, or a sentence or two at the end of that post related to the services my company provides does not make my post an advertisement.  I’d like to think there is still plenty of intellectual value to what I’m writing about.  2) This is LinkedIn.  It’s a social media platform for professionals.  That means that a certain amount of professional promotion should be expected.  3) Having given plenty of presentations for trade shows and membership groups, their guidelines regularly allow the ‘soft sell’, which means that while the bulk of your presentation is not directly about marketing your business, they usually allow a minute or two at the end to mention what your company does.  This is a pretty fair courtesy which I think is quite reasonable for discussion groups to apply.

Final words – Moderators, I greatly appreciate the time you put in and what you do.  Seriously.  You help keep a lot of crap and spam away from our inboxes and notifications.  I implore you, however, to remember what the intent of LinkedIn is, and with that in mind apply the rules of your discussion groups to maximize dialogue for the benefit of your members.

  • Thank you.

<no marketing message posted here>

Timothy Riecker, CEDP

Speed Networking

Last week our local chamber of commerce, of which my company – Emergency Preparedness Solutions – is a member held an event called speed networking.  Admittedly, prior to the announcements for said event, I had never heard of it.  Of course we’ve all heard of speed dating – and have even seen it on TV and in movies (i.e. Hitch) – where men typically circulate through an orderly room of women, having only a few minutes to ask questions about each other and perhaps make a love connection.  Speed networking is quite similar.

Representatives of various businesses and organizations were arranged opposite each other within a room (sadly, not the swanky, stylish room you witnessed the speed dating occurring in Hitch), having only two minutes to give their elevator speech and another two to listen to the pitch of the person across from them.  You both exchange business cards and any other materials you might have (I had a flyer highlighting our business continuity services).  At the ring of the bell everyone on one side of the table moved down a seat.

It was a pretty neat opportunity.  Two minutes isn’t long, and depending on the level of interaction, sometimes wasn’t long enough.  It was a very fast paced, near exhausting, activity.  In the end, I met with about twenty businesses and organizations.  With some there was clearly interest, with others – not so much.  But that’s how things go in the business world.  I was a bit disappointed that I didn’t get to meet with the other business representatives who were the ‘movers’, as I was.  I’m not sure how they would make that work… likely some complex algorithm of some sort which is well beyond my understanding.  Still, it was an engaging opportunity to meet with these businesses and pitch my services.

I’ve been to quite a few business networking events, all of which seem to be a bit awkward as people tend to gravitate to those they know.  You hate to break into a conversation at the risk of being rude or appearing overly pushy.  Once in a while you’ll get introduced to someone, which is the best opening, but that’s a fairly rare occurence.  The structure of the speed networking forces you to engage with someone new, and you are both there for the same purpose – what a great idea!  There was even someone attending who I have met with several times before to discuss partnering up and making mutual referrals.  Since we already knew what the other did, we took the opportunity to discuss what our next steps would be, which included a meet and greet with their top clients – score!

If you ever have an opportunity to take part in one of these events, I strongly encourage you to do so.  It’s a great deal for small businesses, especially new ones.  They are fun, engaging, and the best bang for your buck in terms of meeting people.  FYI – the chamber charged $10 for the event, which included lunch.  How can you go wrong?