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multiple conversationsSo I need to get something off my mind (mini-rant ahead, be warned). I recently joined several groups on LinkedIn, with the intention of meeting other people working within the social media space. I was hoping to learn, connect, and be enriched by belonging to these groups.

Several of the groups required moderator approval to join, which led me to believe that the content would be of high caliber. So far (and I’m about two weeks in) all I see is people using the discussions as a way to push their content out- and not, really, to have any discussions. The couple times I replied to people’s questions or inquiries, the questioner never acknowledged or responded. Someone was asking for assistance with a few business questions, I offered to help connect them with potential resources or referrals- and again, got no response.

What’s the point of reaching out to connect with people and then not ever following through when a connection is begun?

I understand that we’re all busy, and we’re all trying to manage information overload. But social media can be more than just a distribution channel– but hardly anyone is using it as more than a push content mechanism. If you saw my earlier post on gaining attention in social media you will understand what I mean. Most of these people are just yelling into the wind. Even the ones who manage to capture my attention with a great or provocative headline then proceed to push their content on me- the headline pulls me in, because it seems like a provocative or interesting question. But instead of creating a dialogue, they move right into “And the answer is here, in my blog post.”

Now, I wonder if they are doing this to build links as well, and that may be all they are looking for. But here’s the thing- if you’ve written a good enough headline to make me clickthrough, shouldn’t you DO something with my attention while I’m there? Why try to get me to click through again? When you’ve done the hardest part- capturing my attention- why not back it up with some good information, stimulating dialogue- something that makes me want to know more or dig deeper? Give me that, and I’d ultimately click to your blog post on my own.

If the thread is called “Discussions”- shouldn’t we all be discussing something?

Now, I definitely understand that one purpose of business social networking is to promote your business and your services. But the most successful way to do that is by providing relevant and useful information, and making suggestions when people ask. When you are seeking information, it just makes sense to thank the people who responded- even if their information wasn’t exactly what you needed. I mean, here’s the thing- in real (offline) life, don’t you say thank you when someone helps you? Even if their information wasn’t ultimately that useful? I know I do.

Why do online connections warrant any less courtesy?

As for me, I’m going to monitor the groups for another two weeks. If nothing changes, I’ll withdraw from the groups, and try to find another place to make connections, rather than just be overwhelmed by self promotion.