Discussion Groups

Written by Linda Alexander
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Online groups are great places to discuss common interests, share information, and even network professionally. Before you join a group it's important that you read their FAQ and get a list of their posting rules so you don't upset anybody. A brief introduction in your first message is sufficient to begin posting. It's also smart to lurk on the list for a few days or weeks to get a feel for the people on the list.

If the discussion group that you belong to is email based, don't reply to the entire list when you just want to reply to a few people. Instead, use email. You should also use email when you are requesting very specific information from an individual.

Networking in Groups

Share your knowledge and talents but do not be a commercial for yourself or your products. This will only turn people off. If you want to build relationships, contribute to the group first before you start asking questions. Your signature file will tell enough about you if people are not sure who you are. Before including a signature, make sure the group allows them.

As you probably already know, typing in all capital letters is the equivalent of shouting on a message board or list so don't do it. Also, use plain text. Do not use fancy fonts because many email programs can only read basic text. Avoid attaching large files to your messages. Many people around the world still have low bandwidth connections.

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