The answer is: it depends.
I’ll come onto why in a moment, but I wrote a post a year or so ago strongly recommending that people leave them visible. However, there is one really good argument for why you wouldn’t.
Both perspectives are set out below so that you can make the choice that’s right for you.
Why leave connections visible?
Social media is about networking isn’t it? That includes introducing those in your network to others they will benefit from meeting. If you look through your connections’ contacts to see who they know and ask for introductions, then you may wish to allow them to do the same.
While I understand people’s concerns about competitors poaching their clients I don’t generally buy them!
Competitors are trying to poach your clients all the time anyway.
Just because you’re connected to someone on LinkedIn, it doesn’t make your competitors’ job any easier. For starters, your connections may not be your clients and, secondly, if you work in professional services hopefully your relationships are built on rapport, experience, trust and client service, which are not easy (and take time) to replicate.
However, there is another reason why you might want to hide your contacts.
Why hide your connections?
It’s something a group of partners were arguing about amongst themselves at a LinkedIn training session I ran in London late last year.
It’s this: if you act for Shell but are connected to a lot of people from BP, how’s that going to look to your client?
This is the best reason I’ve heard from professionals for hiding contacts but it is by no means an issue for all. I mentioned the partners were arguing about it – things got pretty heated. Some didn’t believe it WAS a problem, while others did.
This highlights the fact that professional services firm social media guidelines need to be FLEXIBLE. They need to set out the views of both sides and allow individuals to make the right choice for them.
Ultimately, I may think the concern that competitors will poach your clients simply by seeing you’re connected to them is unfounded but others won’t.
What’s right for one person won’t be for another.
So, if you have any concerns about displaying your connections then by all means hide them.
Do you hide your connections? And if you look at a profile and the person has hidden their connections, does this affect your perception of that person?
Image credit: http://www.dalecarnegiewayindy.com
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