What social media network comes to mind when you think business? Facebook? Twitter? Nope, the #1 social media site for doing business is….LinkedIn. Now more than ever people are turning to LinkedIn to make business connections, find new opportunities and expand their professional network. The Business Chattanooga LinkedIn group was started in 2008 and has grown into the largest geographically based group in town. As I write this, we are near 4,000 local members.
As with any large scale adoption the influx of LinkedIn users brings some who see the platform as another avenue to advertise their goods and services, and get their message out to as many as possible. I’ve always said LinkedIn is about business, but the way we connect with others on these networks is so much more dynamic than throwing business cards in peoples faces.
While it may be unintentional by some, the continual posting of advertisements and what many equate as SPAM will (overtime) diminish the value of a social network. That said, I’m laying out some guidelines to ensure the success of the group continues and gives its members a better return on their time investment.
Truth is I’ve been running the group for quite some time by these guidelines, but feel the need to publish them. Why now you ask? The past few months more and more posts are requiring moderation so I thought it best to let everyone know upfront what to expect. The goal is not to stifle the community, but rather free it up to be a place where useful information can be found, and real interaction takes place. Jump into other local groups and you’ll see the same stuff being posted again and again. Business Chattanooga is different, and it will continue to grow and thrive because it is different.
Below are the guidelines that make the up the “Group Rules” which can be viewed in the group. If you aren’t a member, I invite you make a request to join.
Welcome to Business Chattanooga – a LinkedIn group of professionals living and/or working in and around the Scenic City. We strive to be different than any other LI group by remaining free of advertising and SPAM. Instead, the focus is on sharing useful information, having meaningful engagement and discovering valuable insight into Chattanooga’s business community. The goal is to connect local professionals and highlight business opportunities.
You may have noticed that Business Chattanooga is a closed group. What that means is every person requesting entry is screened. The criteria for membership is simple: do you live and/or work in the Southern region surrounding Chattanooga?
The area is comprised of a circle touching Atlanta, Chattanooga, Knoxville, Nashville, Birmingham and all points within. Exceptions may be made for recruiters who fill jobs in the Chattanooga area and people moving to the area wishing to start networking online. After all, the group is focused on making connections and finding new opportunities.
While some use LinkedIn as another platform to push out their advertising messages, the method within Business Chattanooga is different. People don’t spend time on LinkedIn to be solicited. They come here to make connections, find opportunity and network. If that’s why you are on LinkedIn, then welcome. Here you will find an environment for doing just that.
DISCUSSIONS TAB GUIDELINES
Let’s keep conversations local, and focused on what’s happening in and around town. Instead of ads and solicitations, try posting links, events and/or items pertaining to the local business community, and give explanations as to why this is important to the business community.
Instead of listing your website URL with either no explanation or a general statement about how you can save people money, post a link to your blog that highlights something your company has done to help the community and/or customers. Case studies are always a good way to highlight this. Give it a local twist by highlighting benefits to local business.
Posts to the Discussion Tab should focus on business-related topics happening around town. This could be a blog post by your company focused on something local. It could be an upcoming event your company is hosting (the exception is webinars – please post them in the Promotions Tab).
The group is a great platform for letting others know about upcoming business-related events. The event(s) should be local. Once posted, there’s no need to create additional posts about the event – simply make a comment under the post with any updates or changes to the event.
The group is here to spark conversation about things specific to Chattanooga and the business community – not to have people post tiny versions of TV-like commercials to come buy their stuff. Time to think 21st Century. Stop trying to sell. Inform and educate.
PROMOTIONS TAB GUIDELINES
If you absolutely have to tell everyone about some great sales promotion you’ve got coming up, then post it in the Promotions section. This is also where ALL webinars should be posted. Yes, they’re viewed differently than live events.
JOBS TAB GUIDELINES
All jobs should be posted to this section. This goes for both employers seeking new employees, and job seekers. If you are recruiting associates to your downline, this is the section you would post in as well. If you’re new to the group, and posting more of an introduction about yourself and just happen to mention you’re looking for a job, then it’s fine to post in the Discussion Tab.
KEEP IN MIND
The majority of group members are B2B. B2C members may have to get a little more creative with their posts.
Personal attacks on individuals will not be tolerated.
Typing in all caps is like shouting. It’s ineffective, and people usually tune it out.
Posts falling outside the guidelines may be deleted, and the poster may be required to have all future posts moderated.
Posts promoting other LinkedIn groups will be removed.
Don’t post article links about social media. There’s a subgroup for that (SMC Chattanooga)
Don’t ask people to “like” your Facebook page, or start a discussion asking everyone to post links to their other social media profiles asking for likes and follows.
Thank you for being a part of Business Chattanooga. And thank you for being an active member of the Chattanooga business community. I started this group back in 2008 to better connect with local professionals. The time I invested in LinkedIn and Business Chattanooga has truly paid dividends. I hope your experience is equally rewarding.