As I mentioned in previous posts, LinkedIn Groups allow you to be virtually connected to a number of people that share the same interest. The largest groups have membership in the millions. If you join a group, you will be able to directly send an E-Mail as well as invite, without knowing the E-Mail address of, anyone in this group! Whether or not you use groups as part of your invite strategy is another story, but the ability to see and be seen, especially in core areas of expertise or interest, is a reason why you should join the maximum of 100 LinkedIn groups allowed.
I won’t answer the question “Should we be limited to only joining 50 Groups?”, but as for which 100 to join, we can use the new Group Search capability, combined with the total number of membership information, to guide us in creating a sound strategy. For instance, I have a variety of expertise and interests, including networking, sales, Japan, Southern California, telecommunications, etc. I simply enter these types of keywords into the group search text box and LinkedIn will tell me which are the most popular one to join in terms of membership in descending order. It cannot get any easier than this. If you start thinking about your objectives in networking and what type of people you want to connect with, you should be able to create your own keyword strategy and start joining appropriately targeted online gatherings.
One word of note is that membership numbers vary from month-to-month…I always check back in every month and do the same search to make sure that my memberships still make sense. For instance, I recently received an invitation for a new local group that I wanted to join, so I went back in and looked at membership numbers and realized that I didn’t need to be in as many networking groups as before. By realigning your group memberships with your current objectives and membership numbers, your group membership will always be optimal. I find that every month I am tweaking my membership in 2 or 3 groups as new ones evolve and old ones don’t fulfill their purpose anymore.