LinkedIn Sub-Groups – Just Like A Group – But Special

Promised myself that I’d get an article out on LinkedIn subgroups before we get snow, and in order to keep that promise, I have to get this article out now!

The concept behind subgroups is probably more sexy than the implementation, but you still want to understand what’s going on…

Exclusive membership

So the concept is simple enough, a subgroup is a group that let’s one create a hierarchy of group membership.

There could be the main group with membership for everyone in the organization.

Then there could be a subgroup for the board of directors.

And maybe a different subgroup for the celebrity ball fundraiser committee.

And in the best of worlds, you’d think that they all sort of worked together…

But LinkedIn’s not like that

So it was probably an easy conversion process for LinkedIn – a “subgroup” is just another group.

And most everything you can do with a group, you can do with a subgroup. News, Discussions, Jobs, contact other group members, etc.

There is no concept of a sub-subgroup, so you can’t do that.

And a group with subgroups has an extra tab that does let you click into the subgroups, but that’s about the only link between them.

Groups with a pre-membership criteria

In order to join a subgroup, you must already be a member of the group.

(But wait – I went to test this to make sure I was giving you the real scoop, and lo and behold – I was able to invite someone who was not a member of the main group to join the subgroup!)

So here’s the corrected statement:

You’d think that in order to be a member of a subgroup you would have to be a member of the group – but that’s not quite the case.  If you attempt to join a subgroup and are not yet a member of the main group, LinkedIn will also have you request membership to the main group.  And the same rules of group membership apply – a group manager can invite whomever they would like, or individuals can request entrance to a group (subject to manager approval).

Be careful what you “show”

For most of my readers this might not be an issue, but given my last post on offering too much information through your profile, I wanted to make sure everyone understood that those rules apply here too.

Let’s say that your organization is the “Consolidated Merger Company”, and you create a company group site on LinkedIn for employees, investors, and officers.  Things are going great – and then a new deal comes in, a bid to take control of a public company.

And some enterprising technology lover comes up with the idea of creating the “CMC – Takeover of Cadbury” subgroup on LinkedIn, and described it as “The group for planning the hostile takeover of this yummy company.”

You might be surprised when you learn that everybody now knows you’re looking to do just that – because the name and description of the group itself gives away information…

Maybe there’s an effort to redo them

So right now, you can see what you get with subgroups – just a little bit.

But remember – they’ve only been out for a short while. I’m sure the folks back in the LinkedIn labs are working on ways to make them even more useful.

And you never know what you’ll find out when you try them out – go ahead, jump in and give it a go.

To your continued success,

Steven Tylock


  1. Good Afternoon,

    I just came across your posting and thought you might be able to help. I recently created a private subgroup from my organization. I pre-approved these people to join our main LinkedIn group but when I try to add them to the subgroup, they do not appear only my personal contacts. If you could assist, I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you!

  2. R,

    It appears to be the same interface for both groups and subgroups. I think you’re finding the “Pre-approve People” area correctly, and noticing the large “Connections:” area.

    You are correct, this allows you to pre-approve your connections easily.

    But just below that, you’ll find this text:
    Start typing the name of a connection
    Add other email addresses… or Upload a file

    Those last two areas are clickable – and take you to a new screen to do just that.

    Try that out and I bet it works great.


  3. Hey Steve,

    I was looking into creating a sub-group on LinkedIn but after reading your article Im not sure its the best solution for my issue. Maybe you can help! I work for a Commercial Real Estate company that offers a marketplace and research solution. Our LinkedIn group does well however we have a problem with members posting their listings on our discussion board. We want to keep the discussion board geared toward commercial real estate issues, trends, etc.

    Do you think it would be best to push all listing to the “Promotions” tab or create a sub-group for networking listings?

    Thanks for any help you can provide!


  4. Jenny,

    Thanks for the question.

    It sounds like other’s promotions are ok for you – if they were segregated into a subgroup or stuck under the promotions tab.

    I think the promotions path is better. Users can flag the promotions in addition to you, and you can move them all to that tab. (and put your own promotions in there as well)

    Then you can police the main group comment area and set a policy that lets it be known that it is for discussions only.

    A sub-group would be much more segregation than you have in mind – who would sign up to get promotions?-)

    Good luck and let us know how it works out.


  5. Hi there,

    I see this is an old blog post, but still hoping you can answer my question. Am I able to invite people to join my subgroup if they do not have a LinkedIn account yet? Also, do they have to be a direct connection with me to join my subgroup? Thank you!

  6. Yvette,

    I run a nice spam filter on comments and it lets me keep these open – glad you found the article;-)

    You must be a LinkedIn member to join a group or sub-group.

    If a group is “public” the data can be seen on the web – look – here’s one:

    Connection is not needed to join any group. In fact – it’s a way to approach people (in the group) without already having a relationship!


  7. Hi,

    If someone is a member of a subgroup, will they receive updates from the main group as well?

    Thank you

  8. Av,

    I don’t think so – they would as a member of the main group, but not if they only are a member of the sub. (and as noted before, it looks like you could just be a member of the sub)

    But hey – try it out and let us know.


  9. Over the last couple of weeks, I have tried posting discussion in our company sub-group page, yet the members are not able to see the post… So, I tried clicking on both Popular and Recent but the result was same. I even tried moving to Promotion and Jobs, yet the results was same.

    Kindly help and guide

  10. Rajesh,

    I’m sorry to admit I don’t have anything to offer at this point.

    It seems likely that LinkedIn has tinkered with the groups and sub-group features, and possibly broken some aspect of it. You should consult LinkedIn support directly.


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