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