How to Participate in LinkedIn Discussions (Q&A)
October 3, 2012
by Justine Parsons
A new client signed up with me for LinkedIn assistance which includes optimising her personal profile, identifying and joining ‘best fit’ groups on her behalf and I’m researching a weekly list of discussions I’ve for her to comment on.
This last item has raised excellent questions on her part about how to participate in discussion and got me thinking about those of us a little daunted about LinkedIn group discussions. I hope this helps and if you have your own questions, post a comment below and I’ll do my best to answer.
Q: How do I comment on a discussion?
A: You can add a comment from the main Discussions page or anywhere you see a Comment link.
- Click Groups at the top of your home page.
- Click the group’s name.
- Move your cursor over any discussion to see a list of actions below it.
- Click Comment.
- Enter your comment (4,000 character limit). You’ll receive an email for each new comment unless you uncheck the box below your comment.
- Click Add Comment.
Q: I’m not sure how/where/when to ‘jump’ in? Do I just pick up on the last commentary and build on it?
A: You can join a discussion at any time. Ideally you will contribute to a recent discussion however one of the benefits that LinkedIn has over Facebook and Twitter is the longevity of content. If there is an older discussion that strikes a chord with you, by all means comment on it. This can often spark a new number of comments by other group members.
When commenting, keep the original point of discussion in mind. LinkedIn etiquette is to start a new discussion when comments stray too far from the original post. Respond to recent comments, by name, but keep on topic.
Q: How long (number of words) is appropriate when commenting in a group discussion?
A: The maximum number of characters LinkedIn allows in a comment is 4,000. However the length of your comment depends entirely on what message you want to convey. A sentence is perfectly acceptable as is a number of paragraphs if the discussion calls for detail. Remember to add line breaks if posting multiple paragraphs to break up your text, making it easier for those in a hurry to read!
Q: Is the goal to share a narrative with all the participants or a conversation with the commentator?
A: You will meet the same contributors across groups and build a relationship with these through your comments. Who the narrative is directed at often depends on when you jump into the conversation, you may directly answer a question that someone has raised or comment on the discussion thread itself. If unsure, follow the format of the discussion as they do vary.
Q: Once I start commenting I assume I’m committed? Or do I only have to track it if someone posts a follow up to my comment? (What happens if I drop in and out)
A: It’s perfectly acceptable to drop in and out. You will find after commenting that you get comments back in response before the thread steers onto another comment or point raised, at which stage you can drop out. When you comment the check box for emails for subsequent comments is checked by default. I normally leave this on and a day or so later turn it off (which you can do at any time from the following emails).
Q: What is acceptable LinkedIn etiquette when commenting in group discussions?
A: The most important question of all! We all visit LinkedIn looking to learn from, catch up with and make connections while sharing our views and expertise. The biggest negative I hear from clients is the amount of spam in groups (more about that in another post). Nothing will turn you away from a connection more than self promotion, blasting groups with updates and being transparent in the act of being on LinkedIn to push sales. Here are some commonly accepted rules of etiquette:
- Be helpful and treat LinkedIn as you would a face-to-face meeting.
- Focus on intelligent, meaningful posts that add value to a discussion.
- Share relevant information that benefits other group members.
- Ask thought-provoking questions.
- Demonstrate your expertise by answering questions from other members.
- Respond to personal comments and questions within the discussion.
- Pick your groups carefully.
- Listen to discussions before commenting. Establish what you like, don’t like, what makes you want to know more about the person commenting and what makes you want to put fingers to the keyboard. Replicate this style in your own comments.
- From your list of groups, chose 2-3 that you would like to concentrate on while you gain confidence.
- Identify discussions within these groups in your area of expertise.
- Start commenting. To start with, you may be more comfortable drafting your comment in Word and coming back to it in half an hour before posting. [I often practice this with both comments and draft blog posts, often what makes sense at time of writing needs tweaking when you come back to it].
- Have fun and enjoy. LinkedIn is a wonderful network full of people happy to go out of their way to help you. Reciprocate!