Participating in Facebook groups can not only shake up your Facebook routine — it can also be a powerful tool to improve your business. But online groups can be tricky to navigate. Proper etiquette and common sense will keep you out of the moderator’s crosshairs and generate positive connections.

I reached out to two individuals who are greasing the wheels of the most popular Facebook groups for agents and asked them for solid advice about how agents can get the most out of participating in groups.

“There is a lot of nuance in group participation, and you cannot learn that nuance without investing time,” said Michael McClure, of the Raise the Bar in Real Estate Facebook group, who offered these six tips for participating in Facebook groups:

1. Pick a few groups and become a regular in each.

2. Every group has a few toxic participants; figure out who they are and avoid them. Be as diplomatic as possible, and never write comments in the heat of the moment.

3. Everything you write is a representation of you; communicate clearly and write well. Always proofread before you post!

4. Stay on topic; nothing derails a thread like someone who changes the subject in the middle of a conversation.

5. The fuel that drives every quality group is great conversation, and great conversation is typically the result of excellent questions. Ask great questions!

6. Figure out who the smartest people are and follow their threads. That’s how I get the most from my group. 

“Raise the Bar” focuses on ethical issues in the real estate industry. Often agents will post questions about how to handle difficult transactions or clients. Sometimes the group dives into hot-button issues by calling out unethical practices by agents who are not “raising the bar.” It’s a great place to find fresh perspective, (and to learn how to keep yourself out of hot water).

Jimmy Mackin, from the Facebook group Tech Support Group for Real Estate Agents, said, “If you can deal with the occasional jerk with a huge ego, you’ll find that the public real estate forums are an amazing place to connect with smart people, share ideas and learn about strategies that are working for agents all across country.”

In Mackin’s group, questions about common technical errors and recommendations for top customer relationship management (CRM) programs are often hot topics. Agents are plagued by numerous technological issues. This group is a good resource for quick and thorough answers to minor tech problems. This is also a place where you can see if other agents are finding success with their recent smartphone or website platform purchase. Comments about which Web services are saving money, wasting money or making money through lead generation can be invaluable information to agents.

Mackin says any agent who wants to get the most out of a Facebook group will need to “become a sponge. You’ll hear success stories, horror stories and everything in between. If you listen with an open ear and a critical mind, you’ll gather the necessary information you need to make better business decisions.”

Remember before participating in any active discussion in any online group that your comments are usually public. It is also important to review the group’s rules before participating. Self-promotion is usually the quickest way to find yourself removed by the moderators.

Groups will often screen those who apply to participate to make sure they are connected with the industry, and they’re a great place to connect with individuals who share your passion for real estate.

By day, Rachael Hite helps agents develop their business. By night, she’s tweeting for

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