Are you being ‘used’ for your connections on LinkedIn?

LinkedIn is an amazing tool and the site that professionals rely on to keep in touch with their connections and maintain that connection throughout your career. It is often frustrating to try and get in touch with someone only to find that they have moved companies and you no longer have their updated details or new phone number.

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With LinkedIn you can maintain the connection easily, staying in touch as each of you move roles and progress across companies, email address and phone number.

Used correctly, LinkedIn is very powerful.

Some connections use the LinkedIn Openlink Network, available to premium subscribers.

This enables connections to connect with and send messages to anyone in their network.

Others might append LION to their display name to indicate that they are a LinkedIn Open Networker and open to connecting.

But LinkedIn is also ruthlessly used by people who use you to mine your connections and get connected to your own business contacts, partners and customers. This can put your own LinkedIn connections at risk – especially if you maintain good relationships with your clients and partners on LinkedIn.

You could lose competitive advantage, and run the risk of losing business, simply by adding a new contact to your LinkedIn network.

You might receive a message to connect in LinkedIn like this. The messages might be from someone you didn’t know and they might say:

“Hi Eileen, We’re both connected to [CONNECTION NAME] and she mentioned that you would be a great person to connect with. I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.
Kind regards [NEW CONNECTION NAME]

If you look at their profile you might find that they work in a similar role or geographical area to you. Their website says that they work with different customers, but they blog about moving into working with the sort of clients that you actually have.

By connecting with the new connection, you might find that they are connecting with all of your hard-won LinkedIn contacts with the aim of doing business with them.

LinkedIn makes it easy to to this by publishing your connections to your contacts by default.  You can turn this setting off in your profile so that no one can see your other connections unless you have mutual connections.

The setting is in the Profile tab of your settings and is accessed by clicking the “Select who can see your connections” link. Change the drop down list box to “Only you”. if you want to protect your connections from being spammed by people they do not know.

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If you want to protect your LinkedIn connections and customers, maintain the business relationships you have the consider changing the privacy of your connections and make sure that your customers stay loyal to you – no matter what social network they use…

Image Credit: pasukaru76

Eileen is a social media strategist and consultant at Amastra, a columnist at ZDNet and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact Eileen to find out how she can elevate your brand and help your business become more social.

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