10 things you want to know about Yammer external networks

YammerSome weeks ago I offered a project team to create a Yammer group. It was a team with a lot of externals, so it had to be an external group. Or so I thought.

However, it turned out I had to create a new “child” network off my company network, because external groups were not available at that time. They are now, but your administrator can turn this off, so a child network may still be the only option available to you.

This has been a great learning experience since a child network has some peculiarities: it is different from a group (obviously), and also different from the company network.

So of course I am logging all the interesting things that I find as the project develops; for myself, my colleagues and for anyone else who is involved with external Yammer networks.

For the administrator:

  1. The URL of your new network will be https://www.yammer.com/name  so you are competing with all the world. Your desired name may already been taken, so have a few alternatives ready.
  2. The person who creates the child network is automatically added as the (child) network administrator, with all the trimmings. If you do not like the idea that everyone in your organization can become a network administrator, you may want to limit the options to create child networks, and can decide to make this option available for the parent Yammer administrators only. (If you are a Yammer admin, go to Network Administration > External Networks)
  3. You need to invite everyone with their email address; you can not use the existing network to select from.
  4. Some companies do not allow their employees to join any external Yammer network, but need approval from their Yammer admin. This is a setting that lives in the same place as nr. 2.
  5. This is a separate network, not a group, so people can create groups under this network. You can not turn this off.
  6. The parent network has more administration settings and options than the child network. For instance, the “External Networks”, Ïnvite Guests” and “Account Activity”  options are not available in the child network.
Part of the  parent network admin settings.


For the users of your network:

You may want to inform them about this in a quick user guide. I have logged them in a Yammer Note on the All Company network.

Network Note
Yammer notes are a good way to capture information for the group/network.


  1. The new network will not be visible under My Groups; instead you have to navigate networks via the gear wheel next to your profile pic (bottom left at the moment of writing).
  2. Since this is a separate network, you will have to refollow those people you want to follow.
  3. You will also have to re-set your email notifications for this network
  4. Make sure that you are on the correct page – you enter the default homepage but this is not the same as the All Company stream. (Which does not feel logical to me, but that can be me)

Have you found any other “gotcha’s” for Yammer external networks? Or have I got it wrong on some things? Please share!


13 thoughts on “10 things you want to know about Yammer external networks

  1. harrisxm February 23, 2017 / 5:01 pm

    Thank you for this post. I’m proposing we use an external network to enhance our new hire, pre-arrival experience. So we would be inviting them with their personal email and providing them with information and support until they get their company email and then welcoming them into the parent network. Any ideas on how to efficiently manage this? Any other watch-outs? If this goes well, we could do something similar for M&As.

    • Ellen van Aken February 25, 2017 / 9:02 am

      Sounds like a good plan! Some things to watch out for:
      – Personal email addresses are not always as tightly managed as company email addresses, so make sure you remove all accounts from people who are an employee.
      – Participants will be able to create groups, so monitor the network regularly to avoid any sprawl. I do not think this is very likely but it is good to realize that this is possible.
      – Yammer is not the best place for document management, e.g. you do not have version control etc. But with Yammer changing, and all groups now getting a team site, that may become better.
      I would be interested to learn about your findings when you have set this up!

      • harrisxm February 27, 2017 / 8:18 pm

        Thank you! I’ll let you know how it goes if they approve it 😉 Fingers crossed.

  2. Christopher Sheik March 30, 2017 / 2:54 pm

    We require Admin approval for an employee to join an external network. The approval requests are not reaching our Admins. Can you share an example of a notification and any headers, so that we can check whether a mail transport rule is blocking the join request. Any other potential root causes? Where should join requests appear?

    • Ellen van Aken March 31, 2017 / 6:28 pm

      Hi Christopher, I checked our settings and it appears we do not ask approval, so I am afraid I can not help. However, if you are an admin, you will have a “pending requests” item in your profile gear wheel bottom left, which will show any access requests – however in my case I have only received requests to join groups and external networks I manage.
      So that might be a place to look but I have not the exact experience you are looking for.
      Best regards, Ellen

  3. Christine Stack May 31, 2017 / 7:47 pm

    This is fantastic. I am starting my first External network and it will be very useful. One question – is there any Microsoft reference to External networks becoming 0365 group connected?

    • Ellen van Aken May 31, 2017 / 10:01 pm

      Thanks, Christine, always good to learn it may come in useful. I am afraid I do not know much about O365 groups because we have turned that off at the moment in the company I work for. Good luck with your network!

  4. Xiomara June 3, 2017 / 2:53 am

    I’m doing a small POC before I embark on the New Hire Pre Arrival or M&A Integration pilots. Glad I did because when inviting members I encountered two challenges:

    1. Members of parent network did not receive invites initially – not sure why. I had to resend and eventually they got it.

    2. External partner with yahoo.com email kept getting an error. I had to ask her to create a Gmail account for her to join ;-(

    So needless to say, I will not be piloting any more use cases until I learn more.

  5. Christine June 19, 2017 / 5:07 pm

    I just was asked if there is co-authoring available in documents stored in an External Network. Does anyone know? I did learn that the language translation features did not work with announcements, pools and praise. Just something to be aware of. We will be working with a lot of non-English speakers.

    • Ellen van Aken July 29, 2017 / 9:52 am

      Hi Christine, as far as I know there is no co-authoring for documents in Yammer at the moment. However, when Yammer becomes connected to Groups, you will get a team site with each Yammer group and I expect you will then be able to use SharePoint co-authoring functionalities. If your external users will have access to that site, of course. I have no experience with that yet.

  6. Mark July 28, 2017 / 4:07 am

    Thanks for sharing the above info. I have managed to send an invitation to a gmail account user who can log in to the external Yammer network. However on further testing, when this user logged out of the Yammer network and then tried to go back in they could not. They were prompted for a password that they do not have. Any ideas how to get this to work? Thanks Mark

    • Ellen van Aken August 5, 2017 / 9:23 am

      Hi Mark, I have tried to do that with a gmail account, but upon first entry from the invitation I was prompted to create an account with password, which is as expected. I assume your user had to do that as well. So could they not use the “forgot password” link?

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